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News and notes on guns in America

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NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch appears in promotional material for the group's Carry Guard program. [NRA]

Following New York’s Lead, Washington State Will Investigate the NRA’s Controversial Insurance Products

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has happily thrown himself into a feud with the National Rifle Association over its sideline selling controversial insurance products. Now, at least one and perhaps two more states are following his lead.

On August 8, Mike Kreidler, Washington State’s insurance commissioner, announced he was investigating the NRA for selling its Carry Guard insurance to residents of his jurisdiction. Kreidler is looking into whether the NRA committed a violation in Washington similar to the one that caught the eye of New York regulators: selling insurance without a license, which both states consider a violation of law.

Back in April, after his office received a consumer complaint, Kreidler sent the NRA a cease-and-desist letter to stop marketing Carry Guard or any other insurance policy in Washington. His office found that the NRA was only licensed to market insurance in one state, Georgia.

As of this writing, the NRA has not complied with Kreidler’s request. The Carry Guard website lists only one state, New York, where the policies aren’t available.

Now, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner is considering whether Carry Guard policies cover illegal acts, a violation of state law, or if marketing materials misled customers. In a statement announcing the investigation, Kreidler’s office said it may propose legislation to ban the sorts of self-defense liability insurance policies that the NRA sells. Spokeswoman Kara Klotz said in an email that the commissioner can impose fines like those levied by New York if his office finds violations.

Elsewhere on the West Coast, NBC News reports that California’s Department of Insurance is also investigating whether Carry Guard violates any laws. California has not confirmed its inquiry via an official statement, however.

Carry Guard offers members potential reimbursement for legal costs should they face prosecution for shooting another person while claiming self-defense. Insiders familiar with its development have told The Trace’s Mike Spies that the NRA saw the product as a potential financial boon while member dues and donations sagged with Republicans running Washington and the group hard pressed to raise the spectre of new federal gun restrictions.

Instead, Carry Guard has been a source of grief. Critics have slammed it as “murder insurance,” and the scrutiny of state regulators has disrupted the NRA’s entire line of insurance products. New York’s fines alone cost the NRA’s partners Chubb and Lockton a combined $8.3 million, and the terms of the consent agreements interrupted an estimated $7 million in annual payments to the gun group.

Now, the prospect of financial sanctions from other states looms.