MANN: Gun Owners Should Not Be Required to Purchase Liability Insurance


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The most recent mass shootings by weak men with weak ideals has left the nation once more heartbroken. On its heels, another foolish idea on how to prevent such atrocities comes from Democratic Presidential Candidate John Delaney. On August 4th, Delaney tweeted,

“There are many things we need to do on gun safety, including requiring liability insurance to own/purchase a firearm (like we do to own a car). It would probably cost an average hunter $5 a year, but if you have a history of hate crimes it would be cost prohibitive. Commonsense.”

Not only would this idea be an insurance nightmare, it is both unconstitutional and tyrannical.

Impossible to Fund

To begin, the liability would be impossible to underwrite, the process of assigning a price at which an insurance carrier is willing to take on your risk. The more claim experience a policyholder has, the easier it is to underwrite. For instance, if I am your health insurance carrier and I know you get sick and require hospital visits twice a year, it’s pretty easy for me to predict your yearly risk. In Workers’ Compensation, you see enough low-cost claims like sore backs and smashed fingers to build a financial hedge against more catastrophic events. However, most gun claims would certainly be more catastrophic than the average auto claim and would not endure the claim frequency to adequately predict the exposure for the insurance carrier. 

Life Insurance is similar to a proposed liability insurance for guns. Both claims are catastrophic in nature as death comes at a serious financial burden, and both claims suffer from a low occurrence rate as a life insurance policyholder can only die once. However, even leveraging from life insurance would be a mistake because the life insurance carrier “knows” the liability at the time of policy inception. I elect as much life insurance as I want, the same couldn’t be said for a gun policy. A policy holder could not apply for a policy that covers shooting x number of people for example. Furthermore, everyone dies, but not everyone experiences gun violence making a gun liability policy even harder to predict as the policyholder may never issue a claim. 

A Confusion of Terms

This brings into question another integral facet of funding a policy of this nature—who is the liability? Delaney presents it just like car insurance, so presumably he means the insurance carrier pays for the victim’s healthcare. 

This proposal creates a problem for the actuaries like myself assessing the risk as the pool of exposure extends from the policyholder to his environment. This is not as hard with other insurance lines because we generally know that 16 year-olds with sports cars carry a higher liability, and that those who smoke are a greater risk to life insurance carriers. How does one assess the likelihood of being shot, though? Would my premium change based on my proximity to other people, metropolitan areas, high schools, shopping malls? The answer is yes, which would be a headache to insurance carriers and gun owners alike. 

The Necessity of a Registry

The most detrimental effect of Delany’s policy would be its necessity of a pseudo gun registry. If it is true that owning a gun increases your chances of being shot, then presumably the more guns you own the greater the risk. This would require an inventory of all of your guns. The insurance carrier would need to know the number of guns you own, the types of guns you own, whether you carry one on your person or not, etc. in order to properly assess your premium. 

It does not take a rocket scientist to see how tyrannical this process would become. As soon as the government wants to come for your guns, they will know exactly who to call upon for a detailed list of all owned firearms by weapons’ class. 

Even worse for Delaney, my argument is based on the false premise that people will actually adhere to this law, when the opposite is true. Australia’s gun buyback program still left 16 guns per 100 people free on the streets as of 2018. The mirroring program in New Zealand has only collected a handful of guns from the populace at large. The reality is that nobody will sign up for a gun insurance policy. With minimal premium coming in and inherently catastrophic claims, you would have to be a fool to underwrite any gun policy.

The last words of the Second Amendment are “shall not be infringed.” This means every infringement, no matter how small, on American gun liberties is unconstitutional. What I call a logistical nightmare rife with violations of our right to protect our life and property, Delaney calls “commonsense.” It is rather a dumb idea proposed by a candidate with no hope of reaching power anyways. 


Tanner is a born-and-raised West Virginian. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from West Virginia University and currently works as an Actuary. His interests include politics, physical fitness, professional soccer, and corgis.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Tanner Mann

West Virginia University

Tanner is a born-and-raised West Virginian. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from West Virginia University and currently works as an Actuary. His interests include politics, physical fitness, professional soccer, and corgis.

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