You buy insurance for your car and your home, but what about insurance for your gun?
Self-defense gun insurance is a policy that can cover criminal and civil defense fees if you shoot someone in self-defense.
Scott Rosenblum, a St. Louis criminal defense attorney, had a man charged with first-degree murder use the policy. Until then, Rosenblum had never heard of it.
“I was a little bit skeptical but it certainly existed and it certainly worked,” he said.
Rosenblum couldn’t go into details regarding the pending case but said the man shot and killed someone in self-defense.
“They covered the entire defense," Rosenblum said. "It was budgeted for that, plus the cost for investigation.”
The National Rifle Association just started offering the policy, Carry Guard, in April. The United States Concealed Carry Association(USCCA) and few other companies offer it as well.
There are three different tiers of coverage. For the top tier, you pay about $30 a month for up to $150,000 in criminal defense bills and up to $1,000,000 in civil defense bills. The plans also include money for bond, missed work while in court, training materials, and access to a 24/7 emergency hotline.
There is also plenty of fine print. Just to give one example, according to the NRA’s website the policyholder is reimbursed for the costs if they are found not guilty or charges are dropped.
According to the USCCA’s website, the insurance plan will pay for the attorney’s retainer up front and the criminal funds don’t need to be repaid regardless of the verdict in court. There are many other areas of fine print.
“The hope, of course, would be that somebody who is insured by a policy like this doesn’t decide to play a little fast and loose with the rules,” said St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar. “Although I don’t see that as a problem, given the majority of gun owners in this state.”
Yet, the laws in Missouri are much different as of January 1. A gun owner no longer needs a permit, background check or firearms training to carry a concealed weapon.
Also, the “Stand Your Ground” law is enhanced. A person used to have to retreat if they felt their life was in danger. Now, someone can shoot as a first line of defense.
“Unfortunately, how that comes out in practice is that it creates a self-defense standard for pretty much any shooting,” said Democratic Missouri Representative Peter Merideth.
Merideth filed a bill in the Missouri House to repeal those new state laws. Yet, even he thinks this type of insurance could have an upside.
“I think taking the active step of getting an insurance policy may be an indication of a person who is a more responsible gun owner in the first place,” said Merideth.
One Missouri firearms expert disagrees. Matt Canovi is a former Marine who owns a gun training school and is the host of “The Gun Show” on Springfield’s 104.1 FM.
He says a gun owner needs three things to stay as safe as possible: know the law, get gun training and then get gun insurance.
“If you don’t get specific training on how to win a gun fight, no amount of insurance is going to bring you back to life,” Canovi said.
The Missouri man mentioned earlier in this story who was charged with first-degree murder is still in jail. His top-tier policy offered up to $25,000 in bond money but he’s being held on more than $1,000,000 bail.
“In most instances, that’s not going to go very far if you’re charged with a homicide,” his attorney said.
See more information on the NRA and USCCA policies below.