The risk of being hurt or killed in an “Active Shooter” situation is the focus of the third week of National Safety Month, June 2017. For details, check out our previous post, “June is National Safety Month: Week 3; Prepare for Active Shooter.”
Next week, the National Safety Council , the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) along with agencies and organizations across the country will be joining together to work towards preventing serious injuries and deaths caused by Active Shooters.
FBI Report on Active Shooters as Growing Risk
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) studied the danger of Active Shooters in the United States and published its findings in a free report for the general public. The FBI’s research discovered a growing trend in Active Shooters.
By 2014, there were 20 mass shootings a year in this country, and 70% of all Active Shooting events happened at commercial locations or on educational premises. Blair, John P., and Katherine W. Schweit. A study of active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013. 2014.
According to the FBI, almost half of all Active Shooter events happen at a business location. Around a quarter of these incidents happen in an educational setting.
An Active Shooter event happens in this country at least once every three weeks. The FBI expects the number of Active Shooter incidents to increase. There will be more, and not less, in the next few years.
2017 Insurance Market: Policies to Cover Active Shooter Liability
In response to this national trend, the American insurance industry has recognized the “Active Shooter” as a viable insurance market niche.
In 2016, insurance carriers began offering a variety of policies providing coverage to insureds that may be held liable for the harm resulting from an Active Shooter event.
From the perspective of the insurance company, the best way to address a question of risk coverage is to provide a policy that is specific to that risk. Then there’s no question about whether or not an existing liability policy will provide coverage to the company or school that is being held liable for the Active Shooter harm.
Who Is Being Covered in the Active Shooter Insurance Coverage?
Who is the intended insured of these new Active Shooter policies? They are being sold to all sorts of businesses, from hospitals and clinics to hotels, restaurants, and bars. Public and private schools are buying policies. So are colleges and universities.
Coverage is available for things that range from primary liability to Active Shooting victims (up to $20M), to loss of business income; property damage; cost for counselors; and funeral expenses. The carriers are offering specific coverage for lawsuits expected to be filed by victims of these Active Shooter events.
And the insurance is being marketing to all sorts of organizations, from small mom-and-pop enterprises to multi-national corporations.
For instance, GDP is marketing its Active Shooter Insurance to “educational facilities, churches, sports facilities and other public venues where there is a gathering of people are at risk every day for a life-changing mass shooter incident to occur.” They are providing strategic risk management consulting that includes “… assist in providing resources and walking you through elements that may affect your policy such as number of locations, size, distance to emergency services, current security in place and social media monitoring.”
Bottom line, any public or private organization with a general liability insurance policy may be investing in additional Active Shooter coverage to protect against the risk of an Active Shooter event on premises they own or control.
Active Shooter Insurance Policies Because There is a Duty of Care
Why are all these insurance policies being marketed and sold? It’s because these carriers understand liability laws in Indiana, Illinois, and other states exist to protect victims of Active Shooters.
Both at the workplace and at school or on fields of play or places of entertainment, there exists a “duty of care.”
Both Indiana and Illinois state law imposes a legal “duty of care” on businesses and organizations that invite clients, customers, patients, students, etc., onto their premises.
This duty of care means the invitations to members of the public to enter their premises comes with a responsibility to keep those invitees safe and secure from harm while they are there. It applies to non-profit entities as well as for-profit businesses.
It is called “premises liability law.” And while it may be more familiar in situations like unexpected calamities like the Indiana State Fair Tragedy, it applies as well to the danger of an Active Shooter on the organization’s property. See, “Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse.”
Even Higher Duty of Care in Some Situations
Depending upon the situation, there may be an even higher duty imposed by state or federal law upon the organization.
- Some industries, like the hospitality industry, can be held to an even higher standard of care than other kinds of operations for their customers and clientele.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act holds some workplaces to a higher standard as well for workers in known zones of danger like liquor stores and banks.
Injury Claims and Wrongful Death Lawsuits Based on Active Shooter and Breach of Duty
Sadly, the predictions of the FBI regarding an increasing risk of violence and death from Active Shooter events are part of today’s reality here in Indiana and Illinois. The Active Shooter is a real danger, recognized by the insurance industry as well as law enforcement.
As discussed in our last post, the Department of Homeland Security recommends that we all be individually prepared for the danger of an Active Shooter by being alert 24/7/365. We are to know at all times where at least two exits are in any location as potential escape routes, for instance.
Moreover, the law expects business owners and operators as well as those managing non-profit efforts like schools and hospitals, to extend their duty of care to the Active Shooter possibility. If this duty of care is breached, the failure to meet that responsibility can result in a premises liability or wrongful death claim against the hotel, restaurant, university, bus company, hospital, workplace, etc.
Active Shooters are now a danger we must all address, just like the risk of motor vehicle accidents, or head trauma while playing sports. While there are laws on the books to bring justice for Active Shooter victims, of course the better result is to avoid the harm of an Active Shooter in the first place. Let’s be careful out there!