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Washington state shuts down NRA-branded insurance sales

Washington state shuts down NRA-branded insurance sales

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler on Wednesday banned the sale of “illegal” insurance policies branded by the National Rifle Association and will fine two companies involved in underwriting and selling them in the state.

Mr. Kreidler ordered Illinois Union Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Chubb Ltd., to stop underwriting the policies, branded under the NRA as self-defense policies. They are illegal in Washington state because they insure unlawful activity, insurance commissioner’s office said in a statement.

The policies were sold through the NRA’s Carry Guard program and give upfront money to policyholders for covered costs and expenses related to criminal defense for gun owners, even if the insured subsequently pleads guilty to or is convicted of a crime, according to the statement, which added “Washington state law prohibits insurance that covers criminal activity.”

Illinois Union has indicated it will stop selling the liability policies nationwide in October 2019, the commissioner’s statement said.

“Chubb confirms that we have received the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s proposed consent order and will stop selling policies in the state in accordance with the cease and desist order,” the company responded in a statement.

“As previously disclosed, Chubb provided notice in October 2017 that it was voluntarily terminating its participation nationally in the Carry Guard program. Under the terms of our contract with Lockton, our participation ends no later than 2019,” Chubb added.

This is not the first time policies linked to the controversial organization have encountered problems and resistance. Several insurers were caught up in litigation involving the NRA in 2018.

Mr. Kreidler also seeks to fine the company $102,000 for selling 811 of the NRA-branded policies to Washington state consumers, the statement said.

Lockton Affinity LLC, a unit of insurance brokerage Lockton Cos. LLC that sold the policies on behalf of the NRA, also faces a $75,000 fine from the insurance commissioner’s office.

Lockton declined to comment.

The companies have until Feb. 14 to agree to the terms of the fines or demand a hearing, the statement said.

“When it comes to insurance products associated with the NRA, it’s buyer beware,” Mr. Kreidler said. “The attempt to insure a criminal act is a rip-off for consumers. The policies sold are deceptive and dishonest. I would be remiss as the state’s insurance regulator if I didn’t shut them down.”

Since the product became available in April 2017, the policies sold in Washington have generated $260,000 in premiums. Of those policies, 255 consumers canceled their policies and no claims have been made in the state, the statement said, noting: “Nationally, the insurer has paid less than 1 cent in claims for every dollar collected in premiums in 2017 and 2018, according to figures provided to Kreidler’s office.”

In April, Mr. Kreidler’s office ordered the NRA to cease and desist from selling four Carry Guard liability insurance products through its website, the statement said, adding that the NRA solicited the policies in Washington state without an insurance producer license, a violation of state law.

Fines assessed against insurance companies, agents and brokers are deposited in the state's general fund to pay for state services, the statement said.



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