(I searched on "insurance" and didn't find this topic covered so I'm starting a new thread. I hope I didn't miss an already established thread.)
As a public service I am sharing the fruits of my personal efforts to develop a responsible personal fiscal strategy for dealing with self-defense incidents. The insurance descriptions below are personal summaries and may not be accurate: read the full policies before making any decisions. I am not a laywer or other relevant professional. I am not offering legal or fiscal advice. I do not offer any guarantees in conjuction with this information. This information is offered as-is. Any use of this information is at your own risk. I am simply sharing my personal thoughts and learnings about a topic I hope will be of interest and use to many on this forum. If you don't like what I share, understand it, believe it, etc. then ignore it.
OK, enough of that. I hope the following proves useful to folks on this forum.
ABOUT SELF DEFENSE INSURANCE
My concealed carry instructor warned us that residents of our state (New Mexico) are VERY litigious, that if we used our guns in self defense we WOULD be sued, and that a competent CRIMINAL defense would cost at least $100,000. He also recommended the NRA endorsed self defense insurance as "the cheapest on the planet".
I purchased the NRA self defense insurance ($264/year), then when I found out about it joined the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network (ACLDN, $89/year, www.armedcitizensnetwork.org). Then after the first year of NRA-endorsed insurance I switched to a similar policy offered by MMD Brokers which I feel better fits my needs ($340/year).
In the case of a self-defense incident by one of its members the ACLDN (as of mid-2010) provides $5,000 to act as a retainer for a lawyer, and is also building up a legal defense fund in the hope of being able fund the defense of any member whom their board judges to have a legitimate self-defense case. (There's more to the ACLDN, but these are the essential fiscal details.)
On the other hand, the NRA insurance will reimburse you up to $50,000 for the cost of your criminal defense once you have successfully been acquitted or had the changes dismissed. And it will mount for you a civil defense, and pay any damages for which you may be held liable, up to the policy limit of $250,000 minus any reimbursements for your criminal defense.
The MMD Brokers insurance is similar, but lets you use any portion of the $250,000 limit for your criminal defense.
In the case of a self-defense incident, my fiscal strategy is to: (1) Use the $5,000 from the ACLDN to hire a criminal defense lawyer, (2) Hope the ACLDN will judge my case to be worthy and will have enough funds to fund my defense(s), (3) Hope that I'm eventually cleared of any crime so that I can get reimbursed by my insurance and then to reimburse the ACLDN in turn, (4) then use ACLDN or insurance funds if needed for a civil defense.
I don't know how well this strategy will work, and I realize it includes elements of hope, and I understand the aphorism that "hope is not a strategy", but it's the best I've been able to come up with in the two years I've been studying the legal system and trying to figure out how to cover as many bases as possible. If anyone knows how to fill in the holes of "hope" with patches of certainty I'd be glad to hear it.
NRA ENDORSED INSURANCE
The NRA is not licensed to sell insurance. Instead, they endorse certain insurance policies and advertise them through their website. To get self-defense insurance you must buy the "Voluntary Excess Personal Liability Insurance" and add "Self Defense Coverage". Both together are very reasonably priced. Both policies are underwritten by Lloyds of London.
The PERSONAL LIABILITY insurance applies if you use a firearm, airgun, bow and arrow or trapping equipment while hunting or trapping, or while shooting at a club or range.
Under this insurance, if you are sued for "bodily injury" or "property damage" the underwriters will defend the suit, make any settlement they feel is expedient, and will pay up to $250,000 in damages.
The SELF DEFENSE insurance only applies if YOU use a LEGALLY-POSESSED FIREARM in defense of YOURSELF. It requires you to pay the cost of any criminal suit, then if the charges are dismissed or you're aquitted they'll reimburse you up to $50,000 for any charges they feel are "reasonable".
Once you've been cleared of any criminal charges, then they'll defend you against any subsequent civil suit, make any settlement they feel is expedient, and will pay for damages of up to $250,000 minus any amount they reimbursed you for criminal defense.
In all cases the insurance will only pay the EXCESS beyond what is covered by ANY OTHER valid and collectible insurance you may have.
There are many exclusions. For example the policy doesn't pay for: damage done to any property you own, rent or control; acts done by or to any resident of your household; acts you do under the influence of drugs or alcohol; anything related to your job or occupation; and more.
MMD BROKERS FIREARMS LIABILITY INSURANCE (www.mmdbrokers.com)
Tow of the principles of Desert Specialty Underwriters, a commercial wholesale insurance brokerage, are avid gun owners who wanted to do something meaningful about the lack of firearms self-defense insurance. They have put together a policy underwritten by Lloyds of London and set up new company named MMD Brokers to sell it.
The insured party must have a concealed carry permit before buying the insurance, and must maintain that same permit for the duration of the policy.
The insurance applies to the use of a legally posessed firearm by the insured party (anywhere in the coverage territory), or by his/her relatives or children while at his/her residence.
For criminal and/or civil lawsuits you must choose your own lawyer(s) and mount your own defense(s), but they must approve of your lawyer(s), expenses and any settlement. The policy states that consent will not be unreasonably withheld.
After you have been cleared of any criminal charges, they will reimburse you for any previously approved criminal defense expenses, and pay approved expenses for any subsequent civil suit.
Exclusions include: damage done to any property you own, rent or control; acts you do under the influence of drugs or alcohol; anything related to your job or occupation; and more.
The upper limit for all payments related to both criminal and civil defenses is $250,000.
In addition to the above, the policy will pay medical expenses of up to $2,500 to each person (up to a total of $10,000) directly affected by the incident (except for the isured or anyone the insured shot at in self defense) up to three years after the event.
COMMON ELEMENTS OF BOTH POLICIES
The covered territory includes: The USA, its territories and possessions, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Canada.
Self defense coverage only applies to the use of a FIREARM. (So if you defend yourself with a knife, bat, pepper spray, etc. you get no coverage.)
You must be in legal posession of the firearm in the location where you use it for self defense.
If you face criminal charges, you must pay for the defense yourself then apply for reimbursement.
If you are convicted of ANY criminal charges arising out of your use of a firearm, no coverage of any kind will be provided.
CONTRASTS BETWEEN POLICIES
The MMD policy requires you to hold a concealed carry permit. The NRA policy requires you to be an NRA member.
The SELF DEFENSE coverage of the NRA policy only applies if YOU defend YOURSELF. The MMD policy allows YOU to defend YOURSELF or OTHERS, and for your RELATIVES and DEPENDENTS to use a firearm in self defense at YOUR residence.
The civil defense coverage of the NRA policy applies only to hunting, trapping, competing or recreational shooting (both of the latter at a club or range). The MMD policy appears to apply to ANY LAWFUL USE of a legally possessed firearm by the insured.
The MMD policy requires that for both criminal and cival suits they consent to your choice of lawyer, defense expenses and any settlement. It claims these consents will not be "unreasonably" withheld. The NRA policy does not require pre-approval.
The NRA policy says that they SHALL MOUNT a CIVIL defense for you. The MMD policy says they MAY PARTICIPATE in a civil defense.
The NRA policy limits reimbursements for CRIMINAL defense to $50,000. The MMD policy lets you use as much of the total ($100K or $250K) limit for criminal defense as needed.
The NRA policy (personal liability plus self defense) costs $264/year nationwide for a $250,000 limit. With the MMD policy you can by a $100,000 or $250,000 limit. The costs vary a bit across the country, but in New Mexico the cost of the higher limit is $340/year.
The MMD policy allows you to insure a spouse (who also must have a concealed carry permit) for an additional $75/year.