Why you need LEOSA insurance

Just as you wouldn’t operate a motor vehicle without liability insurance, you don’t want to carry a firearm without insurance either

By Dan Phillips, P1 Contributor

We sometimes hear of civilians who are arrested (and often prosecuted) for what appears to be a legitimate claim of self-defense with a firearm. If you carry, and many retired cops do, having insurance is a must.

While most officers go through an entire career without having to fire their weapon outside the range, those who have been in an officer-involved shooting know the trauma of the aftermath. Interviews with IAD/FID, desk duty, or administrative leave, and the ensuing stress and depression, can cause you to second-guess your actions. Fortunately, legal defense and your guild or union is there to support you emotionally, administratively and financially. However, as a retiree, your actions are your own. There are no “policy” guidelines. The only thing you can fall back on is defense of yourself or immediate defense of the lives of others rising from a disparity of force situation. You only have this as an affirmative defense of your actions. There is no one coming to your aid, unless you have insurance.

What to expect after firing your weapon

If you were to find yourself in a situation in which you had to fire your weapon, you can expect to be detained and perhaps arrested pending investigation. At this point the embarrassment of riding in the back of a patrol car is the least of your worries.

You’re no longer the representative of your department or agency. Prepare for legal action – maybe criminal, maybe civil, probably both. Unless you are independently wealthy, you’re going to need an attorney. Attorneys are not cheap.

If you aren’t prepared, your savings, your pension, your house, your LEOSA status and your freedom are all at risk of loss. Just as you wouldn’t operate a motor vehicle without liability insurance, you don’t want to carry a firearm without insurance either.

Sample LEOSA coverage policies

Fortunately, there are organizations that provide inexpensive LEOSA/HR218 coverage. I’m not endorsing or advocating any particular group. Most have affordable policies with a varying range of coverage and limits. Some offer policies where you use an in-house or plan attorney, while others let you select out-of-network attorneys (sometimes at lessor coverage limits). Some reimburse you after the fact, and some provide immediate coverage and assistance. The choice is up to you, so be sure to shop around.

The information below was obtained from the provider websites and represents minimum coverage plans. This is not an all-inclusive list; other providers have plans explicitly for civilians for firearms liability and are not listed here. Contact the provider for more information and policy details.

  • FEDS Protection: $300 per year, $50,000 Criminal/$25,000 Civil/$100,000 bodily injury and property damage.
  • Fraternal Order of Police: Legal, $50 Annual premium, $25,000 criminal/$25,000 civil (total combined-plan attorney or attorney of choice).
  • *NRA Retired Law Enforcement Self-Defense: $50 per year, $25,000 †criminal/$25,000 civil (†reimbursable, when acquitted of charges).
  • Professional Law Enforcement Association: $59 per year, $5000 criminal/$10,000 civil (plan attorney and non-plan attorney with coverage limits).
  • *USCCA: *$132 per year, $50,000Criminal/$250,000 civil occurrence/$300,00 total, includes bond and daily loss of earnings up to $250 (*discounted for LEOs only).

If you choose to find an attorney on your own, select someone you know, or find an attorney experienced in self-defense cases. While you’re at it, do you have insurance to cover the loss of your firearm if lost or stolen?

When you do get your policy, keep it current. Carry the policy card in your wallet with the attorney’s phone number and your credentials. Make sure your spouse/family have your insurance and attorney information, and know who to call if something happens. 

While having insurance may not relieve all the stress associated with such an event, it may give you and your family the peace of mind that you will have legal resources at your disposal. 

* Not available in WA state.

About the author
Dan Phillips retired as a military criminal investigator after 23 years of service, joined the federal service right after 9/11 and served 16 years working in the security and counterintelligence fields. Today he works for a major defense contractor. Dan serves as the LEOSA program Chair for the Washington state Fraternal Order of Police.

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