Friday, October 27, 2017

Self-Defense Gun Owner Insurance Programs - are they any good?


Miss D. and I recently took a Texas concealed handgun license class.  While it was in progress, the instructors allowed a representative for Texas Law Shield to make a sales pitch for that company's insurance product.  I was angry about that - we, the students, had already paid for the class time, so there's no way it could be called ethical for the instructors to allow a salesperson to make a pitch like that on our dime - but there was nothing I could do about it.  I was also aware of a 2015 class action lawsuit affecting Texas Law Shield, which makes me hesitant to buy into their program.  (If anyone has an update on the current status of that lawsuit, please let us know in Comments - I haven't been able to locate anything through a quick Internet search.)

A variety of similar insurance products are available to gun owners.  You'll find a chart comparing them here.  It was last updated only a few days ago, so the information it contains should be current.

I think the basic idea is sound, but I've no idea how well such programs work in practice.  I'm therefore opening the floor to you, dear readers.  Do you have any personal experience with these programs, either as a subscriber, or as one who needed their services after a defensive shooting?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.  Please tell us what happened in Comments, and in particular let us know whether you've been satisfied with the level of service offered by the insurance program you chose.  I think all of us would benefit by learning more about them before making a decision as to where to spend our hard-earned money.

Thanks.

Peter

17 comments:

Aeropundit said...

While I don't know which program is best or most economical, I do believe you should make sure that you have some insurance that provides you quick access to a lawyer with a clue.That is what you are really buying, someone to answer your S.O.S. with the knowledge to help.
If you shoot someone, you will most likely be arrested, justified shoot or not. Not a good time for Cousin Vinnie and his law school class mates.Which ever you choose make sure you do chose one. Just Sayin'

rogue14 said...

Best is of course relative, but with the board members present on ACLDN that was the easy choice for me.

Miguel GFZ said...

Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network.
You get to pick lawyers on your area plus cash for immediate legal expenses.
And expert witnesses like Massad Ayoob.
The book and the videos are major cherry on top.

Father of 10 said...

I agree with Miguel, it isn't insurance. You get a basic benefit guaranteed, but full coverage is after a board approves.

LindaG said...

An off topic reply. Congress just passed language that would disallow the public to join together for a class action lawsuit saying it only benefits lawyers. I disagree; but who am I to say? Would this lawsuit be affected, too?

We had a similar thing happen to us. We were eating dinner at a local restaurant and the manager allowed someone to come in who was selling things for a local drug halfway house. I have donated before; but not during dinner. Very poor thinking. Won't be back.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

I was wondering about this subject, I have seen the advertisements in Facebook and in the NRA rag and other gun venue's. I am not sure which is worth the bang for the buck and which is snake oil.

Jim Meehan said...

I agree that one needs to protect oneself and this includes insurance. My choice was USCCA. I took advantage of their training DVDs. When I was researching my choices, I looked at the local and national support resource.

Anonymous said...

The subject of the class action suit was the claim that TLS violated Texas laws for how lawyers sell their services. Essentially the violation claimed was that TLS was paying a non-lawyer to refer a client for a retainer. There was no issue in the suit regarding the services TLS was selling.

The plaintiffs secured determination of class action status, meaning that the lawyers bring suit could claim to represent everyone who had signed up for TLS under similar circumstances. If this suit had reached a settlement, most likely only the lawyers would get any money amounts over one dollar.

The class action determination was overturned on appeal, see the appeal judgment.

As for the value of the coverage, I am not a lawyer, but I like having one in my pocket when I need one. Several attorneys I know, including my brother, have signed up for this service based on the idea that even a single short consultation with this sort of subject matter expert will repair years of dues.

Your opinion my differ.

Anonymous said...

It might just be possible that the instructor felt strongly that having insurance was a good thing, and when Texas Law Shield requested the opportunity to present, it seemed like a good idea for the benefit of the students.

When I first got my CHL in Texas, my instructor did not do this. However, Texas Law Shield presented to our shooting range club meeting at a later date. We did some research and signed up. We now live in Pa, but still have stayed with them. They provide continual learning opportunities and have have always provided personal contact.

Note- all of this positive experience is based on never having needed their legal services.

Anonymous said...

"They provide continual learning opportunities and have have always provided personal contact.

Note- all of this positive experience is based on never having needed their legal services."

I'll second these statements. I like their occasional newsletters with useful info and case study videos. I like their informational coffee nights, which ARE a chance for them to pimp their services, but also have good refresher info, and I'm a member already.

I just took their sponsored 3 hour gunshot wound first aid class, and I found it to be well worth the $40. And it turns out they'll be extending their coverage to include any legal issue you have if you have to use the first aid training from the class. The class itself aligned well with other initiatives from .gov and police agencies that are pushing the idea of basic lifesaving training for everyone as a way to build resilience. Google "Stop the bleed" for example.

nick

added- most people sitting thru a CHL class in the old days (8hr requirement) were probably glad of the interruption and break provided by TLS... and I had no idea such a service existed and I signed up within a few days of learning about it.

Tom in NC said...

I recently signed up with ACLDN - mainly based on their association with some folks I have a lot of respect for and who have a LOT of experience in firearms and self defense related cases. If you want to get a good idea what they are about, go to their website and read the back issues of their monthly newsletter, freely available. Their DVD's that come with membership are excellent. Of course, the best way to deal with this sort of thing is to never have to use your firearm in self defense ("don't go to stupid places with stupid people and/or do stupid things"), second best is to thoroughly educate yourself on legal matters before you might need them. The referenced videos are good for that, and I also recommend Mas Ayoob's and Andrew Branca's books and courses on that subject. One thing from those I'll emphasize - the vast Majority of attorneys have no experience with and little idea how to defend an innocent armed citizen in a self defense case. Find one in your area that does BEFORE you need one.

Jon said...

So initially I signed up with CCW-SAFE *AND* Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. I'm only continuing the ACLDN. They are very straightforward in what they will and will not do, but more importantly, they provide a lot of educational materials.

I know a man who needed to avail themselves of there service. Immediately after the shooting he had his wife call his lawyer and ACLDN. Their response was textbook perfect.

Here is what happened here:

https://blog.hsoi.com/2016/01/06/regarding-the-events-of-january-5-2015/

Here is Mas Ayoob's discussion with John on his blog.

https://americanhandgunner.com/home-invader-the-john-daub-incident/

Full Disclosure. John was one of the instructors at a defensive pistol class I took.

I will not go without this kind of backup ever.

Will Brown said...

Texas/US Law Shield is NOT insurance. They offer their clients the opportunity to retain gun-law specialized attorney(s) in advance of need for such representation in a legal action (and the representation isn't confined to only gun usage - any weapon, to include bare hands, became specifically included when Texas changed the laws regarding bladed weapons a couple years ago). I have been a member of TLS for several years, and chose them as they were the only such law office offering legal representation to private citizen gun owners/carriers in any US jurisdiction at the time (this particular circumstance has almost certainly changed in the interim).

TLS has arrangements with local attorneys throughout the state of Texas (and likely does so in other states - do your own homework :)) in addition to the staff attorneys in the Houston office. Should a client call the emergency phone number listed on the membership card, the attorney who answers will immediately contact the nearest local attorney they have a contract with to proceed to the location of the client until additional representation can be organized (as needed). All direct attorney fees are included in the membership fee, but any additional expenses pursuant to a clients legal defense are extra (which is made very clear in the sales pitch and on the TLS website).

I regard TLS as my mechanism for not talking myself into a prosecution anywhere in the US ("I wish to withhold making a statement until my legal representation is present"), and an easy-to-use resource for keeping myself educated about firearm usage and transportation requirements in the jurisdictions I live in or plan to travel to/through. If I want gun-related insurance, I'm an NRA member and start my market research for that product there (I haven't looked - and can't be sussed right now - but TLS might have gotten into referring their members to resources in the insurance market too; in any event, they are lawyers not insurance agents).

As to your gun license/safety class instructor inviting TLS to participate in "your" class; I can only note that having a subject matter expert provide instruction/information on a critical - and more than a little arcane - aspect of self defense law doesn't strike me as being the least bit suspect or out of line. Presumably, s/he is a shooting instructor, not a lawyer specializing in criminal and civil defense in a gun usage prosecution. I wouldn't expect my shooting instructor to advise me on medical treatment of gunshot wounds either (he also being a pastor, he does suffer my calling him "padre" in public with admirable patience though :)). I presume your sense of offense is due to your misunderstanding of what TLS is selling.

David Splaine said...

ACLDN here too

Anonymous said...

Jon,

With no criticism of your decision intended, why did you deselect CCW-SAFE as opposed to ACLDN?

Thank you

Jon said...

I think they are both good. I am going to stick with just one to save money. At the end of the day they were both going to provide what I needed. But ACLDN provides me more choice and more training. CCW follows a police union model. They select the lawyers, they make all the decisions. ACLDN I have access to their network but I can choose the best lawyer for me. Also the quality of their advisory board means access to some of the top flight self defense experts are looking at my case and are available as expert witnesses. Mas Ayoob, Tom Givens, and Dennis Teuller are names I remember from the website, but there are others. Finally, with ACLDN *I KNOW* how much they are willing to cover for my defense. Up to half their defense fund. They are the most above board, in that they tell you each month how much is in the fund (25% of your dues go into the fund, the other half cover operating expenses).

They were the only ones I was interested in. Texas Law shield looked interesting, but I too had some questions about their sales techniques. And the ones that are a pure insurance model (Like NRA's Carry Guard) only pay out if you win and at the end of the case. ACLDN will get the process started (up to $25K in bail fees and up to a $25K retainer to your attorney IIRC) and *THEN* review the case for further funding.

I don't see it as insurance as much as I see it as participating in a legal defense cooperative. I pray I never need it, but if I do I know it is there.

Even if you don't join ACLDN I recommend that you read their journal every month. It is full of useful information and knowledge.

Divemedic said...

I went with CCW Safe for a few reasons. The largest reason was the attorneys on the advisory board. I live in Florida, and two of the attorneys on the board are Don West (one of George Zimmerman's attorneys) and Jon Gutmacher, who literally wrote the book on Florida firearms and self defense law. His book is on the shelf in most Florida judges' chambers.

They also have an option for getting coverage for up to $1 million bonds. In Florida, a charge involving a shooting is a minimum of a $100,000 bond. None of the others had anything close to that.

Both of those reasons were state specific, and I imagine that people in other states will have different requirements.

The price was right as well. It is costing $300 a year for me and my wife together.