NRA-Branded Insurance Program Is Unlawful, N.Y. Regulators Say

(Bloomberg) -- A National Rifle Association-branded insurance program unlawfully provided liability coverage to gun owners in the event they were charged with a crime involving their firearms, according to New York state regulators.

Lockton Cos., which administered the insurance, and an affiliate were fined $7 million by New York’s Department of Financial Services and will no longer participate in the NRA’s “Carry Guard” program in the state of New York, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

Lockton said it will continue to cooperate with regulators. The company announced after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February that it would stop providing brokerage services for all NRA-endorsed insurance programs.

“It is our responsibility to ensure we are fully compliant,” company spokesman Dean Davison said in an emailed statement. “We believe this settlement is the best way to resolve these issues.” 

The NRA acted appropriately at all times and relied on Lockton and its assurances that the program complied with state regulations, according to William Brewer, a lawyer for the NRA.

Firearms Insurance

The group advertises Carry Guard as the nation’s “most complete self-defense membership program” on its website, referring to Lockton’s plan as “comprehensive personal firearms liability insurance.” Regulators said the insurance unlawfully offered protection for certain acts of intentional wrongdoing and improperly provided coverage for acts of self defense. Gun control advocates have criticized the program, referring to it as “murder insurance.”

Lockton issued 680 Carry Guard policies to New York residents between April and November of last year, the DFS determined. Between 2000 and March 2018, Lockton and the NRA offered at least 11 other insurance programs. The company collected $12 million in premiums and $785,460 in administrative fees related to these programs during that time, according to the DFS. 

An investigation by the DFS found the program was actively advertised in New York by the NRA both online and through traditional mail. The firearms lobby doesn’t have a license to conduct insurance business in New York, according to the DFS, which oversees insurers and banks chartered in the state.

“Today’s action is part of the Department’s continuing investigation into this matter to uphold and preserve the integrity of New York law,” Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said in the DFS statement.  

The NRA said it will continue to cooperate with DFS.

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