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Gun owner liability insurance would be mandatory under proposed laws

Posted Feb 22, 2013 7:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Proposed laws in at least six states would require gun owners to buy liability insurance for their weapons.

Backers of the legislation hope insurance would encourage responsible behavior, the New York Times reports. Advocates say accidental shootings could be reduced if insurers set lower premiums for weapons deemed less dangerous or for measures such as safety locks.

One bill in New York goes further, proposing a coverage requirement for willful acts as well as negligence, the story says. No state currently has a mandatory gun insurance law on the books.

Homeowner policies often cover negligence, but intentional shootings are excluded, including use of a gun in self-defense, experts told the Times. Some umbrella policies, however, will pay for self-defense coverage. And some courts have required coverage for intentional shootings even when policies did not cover illegal acts.

One gun group, the United States Concealed Carry Association, is offering expanded coverage as a member benefit. Its policy is called the Self-Defense Shield. The policy will reimburse legal defense expenses following an acquittal when the policy holder justifiably uses a gun in self-defense.

“Use your gun in self-defense, and you’ll need a wheelbarrow full of cash to pay a competent lawyer,” the group’s website says.

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