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Memorial crosses for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Picture: REUTERS/VERONICA CARDENAS
Memorial crosses for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Picture: REUTERS/VERONICA CARDENAS

The cost of buying insurance protection against mass shootings has increased by more than 10% in the US in 2022 after a string of deadly events, insurers said.

The US has witnessed 293 mass shootings so far in 2022, according to a report by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) that defines them as any event involving the shooting of four or more people other than the assailant. That compares with 309 the same period in 2021, but is sharply up from 240 in 2020.

Demand for such insurance has risen after recent shootings, including the murder of 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school in May, the US’s worst school shooting in nearly a decade.

Active shooter insurance typically covers victim lawsuits, building repairs, legal fees, medical expenses and trauma counselling.

“The number of inquiries we’ve been receiving over the last few weeks have definitely spiked ... we haven’t been as busy as this ever before,” said Chris Parker, head of political violence and deadly weapons protection at Lloyd’s of London insurer Beazley.

Parker said the insurer had seen a 25% jump in revenue so far this year for its deadly weapon policy, with a 30-35% jump in inquiries and a 10%-15% increase in rates, driven by the rising number and severity of gun attacks.

He said clients were now buying insurance to cover themselves for $5m-$10m in losses, compared with $1m-$3m four years ago.

Policyholders typically can pay tens of thousands of dollars for $1m in coverage. Beazley’s clients include schools, municipalities, houses of worship, bars and restaurants.

We haven’t been as busy as this ever before.
Chris Parker, head of political violence and deadly weapons protection at Beazley

Other buyers include organisers of events such as marathons, rodeos, livestock shows, concerts, Fourth-of-July parties and Pride marches. Beazley is one of the biggest players in the space along with other Lloyd’s of London insurers, sources said.

There has been an uptick in violent attacks at hospitals and healthcare institutions as families of people who lost their lives to the pandemic look for someone to blame, insurers said.

Inflation is also seen as a driver of violent acts as the cost of living rises.

Chris Kirby, head of political violence coverage at insurer Optio, said demand for the insurance typically rises after major attacks.

“This was the case post 9/11, and was the same after the rioting and violent civil disturbances that have taken place over the last few years in the US, and we are seeing the same increase in demand after the recent spate of mass shootings.”

Church Mutual, a leading insurer of religious organisations in the US, said it had seen a 10-15% rise in inquiries about armed intruder and mass shootings and an increase in requests for services.

Church Mutual has seen more demand for its “pull-for-police device,” which allows a customer to pull a tab, triggering a signal to law enforcement that there’s an armed intruder event.

Church Mutual clients also include food banks and childcare centres.

‘More exorbitant’

The price of an active-shooter insurance policy varies according to location, safety protocols and the gun laws of the state of residence, insurers say.

Insurers are already charging schools, healthcare institutions and retail establishments more for cover and prices in general are 5%-10% higher than last year, said Tarique Nageer, MD, terrorism and political violence at insurance broker Marsh.

However, the majority of organisations do not have insurance against such attacks.

“The increase could get more exorbitant if any of the institutions that may have had experiences of active shooter losses or claims had insurance,” Nageer said.

Insurance buyers said they need to argue hard to keep a lid on rates.

“You can generally aim to minimise rate increases through thorough and pointed negotiations, and reminding underwriters that this is a competitive market,” said Scott Feltham, group insurance manager for catering group Compass.

Reuters

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