By: Joe Warta
Disclaimer: The following is for informational purposes only. For advice or opinions, contact an attorney or insurance agent for qualified help.
The world of carry insurance is vast and confusing. Even the name of the products vary. Colloquially, it is generally referred to as “carry insurance,” but some call it “concealed carry insurance,” some, “self-defense liability insurance,” and still others use the phrase “legal defense membership.” But they all boil down to the same thing: insurance that covers you in the event of a self-defense shooting.
The basic necessity of carry insurance is that most regular insurance policies do not cover “criminal acts,” meaning that if you are involved in a self-defense shooting, your homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, or even general liability policy won’t cover your legal costs, or other costs related to the case, even if you’re completely justified. Because it’s a criminal matter, most insurance companies don't like to shell out for those.
In the world of firearm self-defense, heavy emphasis is placed on training, the proper set-up for your everyday carry, what gun you should keep in your home, and a myriad of other issues. Alarmingly limited attention is paid, though, to the aftermath of a self-defense shooting.
Unfortunately, when you’re involved in a self-defense shooting, even if you make it out alive, your battle may have just begun. Regardless of if you do everything perfectly, after a shooting, you are liable to be brought before a criminal court to determine whether you performed a permitted act of self-defense or a criminal murder.
Additionally, going to trial can be time-consuming and costly. Depending on the jurisdiction, the prosecutor, judge, and many other factors, it is unlikely to be a cheap experience. So even if you are 100 percent in the clear, an overzealous prosecutor may still entangle you in a lengthy trial. In the legal world, time is money. Every hour a trial goes on is another hour that your attorney is billing to defend you. This can easily rack up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees.
After the criminal trial, there’s also the possibility of a civil trial. The person you shot, or the family of the deceased, may have standing to sue you civilly as well. The likelihood of all of this happening is slim, as it would really constitute a perfect storm of liability… but it does happen. For example, in Gerald Ung’s case: he was attacked, shot his attacker in self-defense, was completely exonerated in a criminal court, and then was hit with a civil suit. But just as we have insurance for our car, our home, our lives, and even liability in general, so, too, can we insure the possibility of a self-defense shooting.
As previously stated, the following are simply listings of information directly from the sources. They are in no way legal or insurance advice. In fact, none of the following information is even presented with opinion -- the companies are listed in random order. It is simply to provide information and help gun owners to be a little more informed. For advice or opinions, contact an attorney or insurance agent for qualified help.
I will be providing information based on several criteria:
Cost: What is the monthly premium? This number is important to consider for your monthly budget. Though, should you ever use it, it may not be as important to you at that time.
A per diem: A per diem is a salary replacement that will cover your living expenses while you are unable to work. If you’re in a trial, not only are you racking up mind-boggling legal fees, but you will also be unlikely to work during that time, so a per diemto cover your expenses can be vital.
Defense budget: If there is a maximum that the policy is willing to pay out for your defense, what is it? Does it differ between civil and criminal? You don’t want to be in the middle of a trial and suddenly be told that your limit has been reached, and your insurance will no longer cover your defense.
The four insurance options I will be covering are the four most popular programs. There are smaller, less popular programs, and programs straight from insurance companies, but for brevity I’ll be sticking with these. (One thing to note: the NRA previously had the popular Carry Guard insurance program, however, this program has been discontinued.)
The table below shows the lowest level coverage; for more details on how each of the coverages compare, keep reading.
● Cost: (Note that I am in North Carolina, so prices may vary by state.) Plans start at $10.95/month and go up from there. For example, you can add bail coverage up to $50,000 and Expert Witness fee protection for $2.95/month, or Gun Owner Identity Theft Protection for $6.95/month. There is also no co-payment, no deductible, or any similar costs.
● Per diem: does not provide a per diem.
● Defense budget: No limit. They will pay whatever it takes.
● Bond coverage: $50,000 for a $2.95/month added fee. So if your bail is set at Kyle Rittenhouse levels, you’re out of luck.
● Cost: comes in three tiers: Gold for $29/month or $299/year, Platinum for $39/month or $399/year, and Elite for $49/month or $499/year.
● Per diem: $750/day.
● Defense budget: This one is a bit more complicated. They will cover $2,000,000 in liability claims, $250,000 for your legal defense, and $6,000 in incidental expense.
● Bond coverage: $50,000
The US Concealed Carry Association’s coverage is probably the most popular coverage out there, partially because it’s not really an insurance policy at all. It’s simply a membership with the USCCA, with insurance included as an added benefit. So the pricing is a little more difficult to decide, simply because you’re getting a whole package. The USCCA provides a lot with their policy; it’s not just insurance. Included is access to training, discounts in their store, a subscription to Concealed Carry magazine, and more. There’s a reason it’s so popular.
● Cost: Coverage comes in two levels, with three different prices: Defender Plan: $19/month or $209/year, Protector Plan (same as Defender, just for active or retired law enforcement or military): $16/month or $179/year, and Ultimate: $47/month or $519/year.
● Per diem: $250/day for the Defender or Protector plan or $350/day for the Ultimate plan.
● Defense budget: Unlimited under both plans.
● Bond coverage: $500,000 under the Defender or Protector plan, and $1,000,000 under the Ultimate plan.
This plan comes with a special Extreme Risk Protective Order (Red Flag gun law) defense attorney plan, for either $5,000 for the Defender or Protector plan or $10,000 for the Ultimate plan.
● Cost: Coverage comes in three tiers: Entry Level for $9.95/month, Full Protection for $14.95/month, and Elite Protection for $34.95/month.
● Per diem: $250/day under the Full plan, and $500/day under the Elite plan.
● Defense budget: $100,000 for criminal defense but nothing for civil defense under Entry; $100,000 for criminal defense, $500,000 for civil defense, and $50,000 for civil damages under the Full plan; and $100,000 for criminal defense, $1,000,000 for civil defense, and $250,000 for civil damages under the Elite plan.
● Bond coverage: $1,000 at the Entry level, $5,000 at the Full level, and $25,000 at the Elite level.
The criminal defense plan covers Red Flag confiscation defense. It also covers accidental shooting protection, for $10,000 at the Entry level, $50,000 at the Full level, and $250,000 at the Elite level. The attorney retainer is $1,000 at Entry level, $5,000 at the Full level, and $10,000 at the Elite level.
This policy is interesting because it covers accidental shootings, which is statistically far more likely to happen than a self-defense shooting. According to Emory University, for every justifiable use of a firearm, there were four unintentional shootings. So while the criminal defense budget is the lowestof the plans, and the bond coverage is also low, it’s actually technically more likely that this plan would be of the most use to the average gun owner.
Overall, comparing different carry insurance policies is a difficult task, because they differ so heavily. Unlike a home or auto policy, there isn’t a standard across the industry; so while some coverage is a strong point of one policy, it may be entirely nonexistent in another. When making as important of a decision as insurance, it is vital to be informed and make the most responsible decision possible and pray you never have to use it.