September 25, 2018

Active shooter insurance: Sadly, it's needed

Workplace violence in the form of active shooter incidents has emerged as a threat that cannot be ignored. Although it’s a difficult subject, it is important for businesses to consider active shooter/ workplace violence insurance to cover gaps in standard coverage insurance. Here’s why . . .

According to 2017 data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), America is averaging almost one mass shooting a day. GVA considers a mass shooting any incident in which a gunman shoots or kills four or more people in the same general time and location. It recorded 345 mass shootings in 2017 and, as of the date of this article, 329 in 2018.

Even when using the narrower mass shooting definition from the Congressional Research Service – the gunman kills four or more people in a public place and the victims were selected randomly – the average is an astounding one mass shooting a month.

Active shooter incidents are most common in commercial enterprises open to pedestrian traffic (43%). Retailers and offices open to the public are at the highest risk of an active shooting and liability for both civil and regulatory action.

Active shooter & workplace violence insurance

There is a misconception among organizations that their general liability insurance policy covers an active shooter event. The reality is that standard coverage – even terrorism insurance – cannot be depended on to respond to active shooter situations.

Many incident-generated expenses can be anticipated; however, many are often unforeseen, including independent crisis management and security, employee counseling, public relations, salaries for victim employees and replacement employees, and medical care and/or rest and rehabilitation for employees.

While a number of underwriters offer active shooter or workplace violence insurance, programs may differ widely. For example, you will want to compare triggering events, third-party liability coverage, first-party coverage for losses, as well as expenses and post-event services.

In addition to premium cost, consider the following when deciding what is best for your business:

  • Limit amount
  • Claims expense coverage (damages, monetary awards, settlements)
  • Crisis response service
  • Funeral expense reimbursement
  • Security review audit and vulnerability testing

Additionally, carefully read the policy to determine if there is anything that may restrict coverage. Some common issues involve:

  • Coverage triggers: Does the policy require a specific number of casualties before it will kick in?
  • Terrorism: The best protection is for the policy to include terrorism.
  • Weapons: Make sure the firearms or deadly weapons definition is clear and understandable as to the type of weapons covered.

Crisis management services

One thing to pay specific attention to in relation to crisis management services is any policy wording that states prior approval or review is required. Because post-incident crisis management is a crucial step in protecting the organization’s reputation and mitigating future claims, make sure the company can respond immediately.

Additional items that should be provided by your coverage include:

  • Investigation: Conduct an independent investigation into the active shooter event. The results can help drive crisis response planning, as well as identify possible third-party liability exposures.
  • Crisis management support: Advice and support on managing the issue, including a response hotline, crisis counseling, public relations and other crisis communications.
  • Temporary security measures: If needed, armed or unarmed security personnel to enhance security.

Risk management – Not solely insurance

A true insurance partner will provide value-added risk management services such as a security review. This should include a risk assessment to identify any security gaps followed up with a risk management plan to address those gaps. The risk advisor should also have a variety of resources available to help prevent and mitigate risk instances, as well as to help educate and train personnel.


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