The worth of carrying a concealed carry weapons insurance policy is probably among the most often asked questions by new CCW license holders. The answers range across the board as well. Some believe that the whole industry is a scam. On the far side of the spectrum are those who purchase as much coverage as possible, often spending hundreds of dollars a month on their policies.
In truth, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, carrying some form of concealed carry insurance is a wise decision. However, how much and which form of concealed carry insurance you purchase depends a lot on your habits, needs, and financial situation.
Understanding your situation before making any decision is the best approach. Doing your research on the companies with which you feel comfortable doing business is also a good idea.
In the end, you may never know whether purchasing concealed carry insurance is a good financial plan. If you never have to use your concealed carry weapon in self-defense, you may never see the real value of the policy.
The Realities of CCW Insurance – What It Is and What It Isn’t
We must make one thing clear before we go any further. Concealed carry insurance isn’t insurance at all. The use of the word insurance is a misnomer. In most instances, you are not buying an insurance contract. Most of the companies in the concealed carry insurance business are selling pre-paid legal plans or membership in an organization that provides some form of legal representation as a membership benefit.
Some similarities across the industry characterize these membership plans
- Most of these plans are tiered. The more you pay a month, the more benefits you accrue.
- Caps and limits for legal representation are common.
- These plans often distinguish between criminal defense representation and civil liability defense representation with different caps and limits on each
- Other benefits are immediate bail payments, immediate retainer fee funds, and loss of work or job benefits.
- Some plans require you to use a network attorney. A few plans allow you to choose your attorney, but the organization retains the right to approve or disapprove your choice.
- Training, education, gun-related news via email, and member newsletters fill out these packages.
Are the Odds with You or Against you?
Just what are the chances you will draw and fire your gun in a self-defense situation? It turns out that it is a hard number to find. There are lots of opinions but little real data. One study by Harvard University based on the National Crime Victimization Survey estimated that less than 1 percent of people involved in a crime defended themselves with a gun.
On the other hand, Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz published statistics that purported the number of self-defense gun incidents in the United States to be as high as 200,000 per year in the United States. Determining a reasonable number on which to base your decision can be tricky. To be honest, the chances you will ever need to draw your weapon in self-defense are probably slim.
Bit Is It About the Odds or the Aftermath?
Let’s look at some other instances where insurance comes into play.
- According to the University of Chicago, the odds of your house being struck by lightning are about 0.5% per year.
- According to the National Fire Protection Association, losing your home to a house fire is about 1 in 3,000.
- Estimates of the chances of your house being hit by a tornado are about 1 in ten million.
These statistics tell me that the odds are long that you will face a catastrophic loss to your home in your lifetime. Yet, we all still purchase homeowners insurance. Why?
We buy homeowners insurance to mitigate the financial ramifications of suffering such a huge loss. Very few of us can afford to absorb the cost of rebuilding our home in the event of a disaster. So, we buy homeowners insurance to protect against that loss.
The Financial Truths of a Self-Defense Shooting
In the unlikely event that you do draw your concealed carry weapon and use it to defend yourself or your family, the odds are that you are about to face a financial calamity not unlike losing your home to a fire or tornado.
There are a few things you can almost certainly count on in most places if you use your concealed carry gun in self-defense.
- Expect to be put into handcuffs and possibly taken to police headquarters for interrogation.
- You may be arrested and charged with a variety of crimes.
- A judge will eventually hear your arraignment and set bail.
- Until someone can arrange to pay the bail or find a bail bond agent who will pay the bail, you will remain in jail.
Finding and Hiring A Criminal Attorney
Most attorneys advise that you be respectful and cooperative with the police. However, respect and cooperation don’t include talking. Politely inform the police that you will be glad to cooperate with them, but you wish to remain silent until your attorney is present.
Now you need an attorney, and the financial commitments begin. Attorneys are not inexpensive. Most will want a retainer fee to begin work on the case. Someone working on your behalf will need to make the attorney’s arrangements and pay any retainer fees required. Making these arrangements is hard to do from jail, where access to a telephone may be limited.
You also don’t want just any attorney. You want an attorney with experience in handling criminal trials. Most attorneys have no experience in criminal court. Their experience and practice are geared toward routine civil matters.
Getting Out of Jail – Bail and Bail Bondsman
If you want to get out of jail, someone must arrange to pay the bond or negotiate with a bond agent to pay the bond. In most instances, the bond agent will want 10 or 20 percent of the total bond in cash to provide the bond to the appropriate court.
If the judge has set your bond at $100,000, someone must deposit ten or twenty thousand dollars with the bond agent before posting the bond with the court. In the first 24 hours, you may already need tens of thousands of dollars. For many families, this is almost impossible.
Beyond the First 24 Hours – The Long Haul
If the District Attorney does decide to proceed with criminal charges, the road can get long and expensive. Mounting a criminal defense is not what you see on TV and in the movies. The costs are high. Attorney’s fees are just the beginning.
Some of the additional costs you may incur include
- Discovery and Investigation costs
- Expert witnesses
- Loss of income to meet court dates and meetings with attorneys
- Your employer may well not want the attention of the press and you may find yourself out of work.
The cost of defending yourself in criminal court can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are not many concealed carry holders who can absorb that kind of financial drain without facing total financial ruin.
And That is Only Half the Story
If the use of your weapon in self-defense resulted in the loss of human life, you can almost bet on a wrongful death civil suit. Now you need another attorney specializing in civil litigation, and the same sorts of expenses begin to mount.
With the double whammy of a criminal and civil legal battle, you may be facing financial ruin in short order. Everything you have worked for your entire life may be threatened.
The Need for Protection for Your Family
Just like protecting your family by purchasing homeowners insurance for those unlikely situations that could destroy your home, purchasing a concealed carry insurance policy protects your family from financial disaster in the unlikely event you need to use that weapon.
How Does Concealed Carry Insurance Work?
When you purchase a concealed carry legal policy, you aren’t purchasing insurance. You will probably join a membership organization or a cooperative that offers some legal defense level as part of the membership plan. There are several things to consider about any concealed carry legal plan.
- Consider the Coverage – Most organizations have tiered plans. The higher the coverage, the most it costs. Look for plans that offer both civil and criminal legal coverage. Things like money for bail bonds, clean up services, psychological counseling, gun replacement, and others are important as well. You want to get as much for your membership dollar as possible.
- Caps on Legal Expenses – Most plans set caps on how much the plan will pay for any single incident. Remember that legal representation is expensive. My advice is to buy the highest level of capped coverage you can reasonably afford.
- Who Chooses the Attorney – Some organizations require that you use a network attorney or an attorney that the organization chooses locally. A few of these organizations allow you to choose your attorney. Which is better is a toss-up. Most of us don’t deal with criminal attorneys regularly. Presumably, the organization you choose will vet the attorneys, and you will be represented by someone with experience in the criminal defense field.
- How do You Get the Money? = Do you have to fund the first expenses out of your pocket, or does the organization provide the necessary funds for retainers and bail bonds immediately? The way the money is disbursed can make a big difference in how fast things begin to move.
- What Other Financial Benefits are Included – They may not seem like much, but other financial benefits can be just as important as the criminal and civil defense funds. You will be required to attend court and meet with your attorney regularly. Loss of wages can be catastrophic for some families. A plan that provides loss of wage benefits is important. Things that affect your family are also important. These things can include psychological counseling, cleanup services, and even temporary relocation expenses if media attention at your home becomes an issue.
- Ancillary Benefits That Can Benefit a Criminal Defense – Most organizations that offer legal defense funds also offer training opportunities and materials. Participating in regular training can be positive in your legal defense.
What to Consider – Look at Your Situation
When you consider what type of concealed carry legal plan to purchase, you should begin by looking at your situation and needs. These considerations should include:
- Your financial situation – Your financial situation can dictate how much additional financial help you may need. Some people can absorb the financial hit of an attorney retaining, bail bond, and other out of pocket expenses. Most of us are not that lucky, but your ability to cover some of these immediate needs can affect which levels of coverage you choose.
- Your Lifestyle and Location – You must consider your lifestyle and your location. Does your job take you to areas that are more likely to get you involved in self-defense situations? So, you participate in risky behaviors? Do you live, work, and play in a location with a low incidence of crime? All of these can influence what type or level of concealed carry legal plan you should consider.
- What Can You Afford – The bottom line is to get the most for your money. Judge your needs for coverage and benefits first. With that knowledge, search for the plan that fits your budget and most nearly meets your needs.
My Advice – If you Choose to Carry Concealed, You Owe it to Your Family to Cover Yourself
Most of us maintain the position that we choose to carry concealed to protect ourselves, our families, and others. You should not forget that protecting your family’s well-being can have financial ramifications as well. Protecting your family includes looking down the road and anticipating how they may be affected long-term.
My recommendation for anyone who routinely carries a concealed weapon is that you have behind your concealed carry permit in your wallet or purse the membership card from a reputable organization the offers concealed carry legal services. You owe it to yourself and the ones you love.