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 are 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 the 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. Your immediate actions before help arrive are to make any reasonable lifesaving efforts. It's generally OK to give general information to responding officers regarding the location of suspects and victims. Don't talk facts until speaking with an attorney (well-meaning statements will be scrutinized). Call your attorney. Emphasize to investigators you want to cooperate but want to speak to an attorney before talking.
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-$400 per year depending on plan coverage, $25,000-$50,000 criminal/up to $250,000 civil-bodily injury and property damage.
- FOP Retired Law Enforcement Concealed Carry Legal Defense Coverage (CCC): $75 per year for members. The FOP has expanded its plan to unlimited legal defense for civil and criminal claims. All reasonable and necessary legal defense costs are now covered in full when using a plan attorney.
- CCW SAFE: $18 per month, unlimited criminal and civil coverage, $500K toward bail and $250 court time.
- Professional Law Enforcement Association: $59 per year, $5000 criminal/$10,000 civil (plan attorney and non-plan attorney with coverage limits).
- *USCCA: *$25-42 per month, $50,000 criminal/$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 has 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.
This article, which was posted 03/06/2019, has been updated with current information.
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.