A Wisconsin-based company has been fined $100,000 and barred from selling insurance policies in Washington after it sold policies to gun owners promising to pay legal costs if they were involved in a shooting, according to the Washington state insurance commissioner.
United States Concealed Carry Association, Inc. (USCCA) bundled the insurance product with membership in its organization, according to a news statement released Monday by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. The plan was advertised as immediately paying criminal defense costs if a member was charged with a crime related to the intentional use of a firearm or other weapon.
The problem: It is illegal in Washington state to insure criminal activity. And there was no clear way for policyholders to pay the insurance company back for legal costs if they were convicted, said Kara Klotz, a spokesperson for the insurance commissioner’s office.
USCCA sold insurance to 1,675 Washingtonians between Dec. 1, 2018 and Jan. 30, 2019, collecting $241,000 in premiums, before voluntarily ceasing sales in the state, according to Kreidler’s office. It has paid no claims in Washington state, according to Kreidler’s office.
Insurance companies must be authorized to sell policies in Washington state, and their policies must be reviewed and approved by Kreidler’s office.
“We made two things very clear to USCCA: Insurers must be authorized to sell in our state, and policies can’t cover illegal activity,” Kreidler said in Monday’s statement. “These law violations are fixable, if the company wishes to do business in Washington state.”
The company said in an emailed statement that it is working on a membership delivery structure that will be acceptable to the insurance commissioner’s office.
Meanwhile, USCCA is not currently selling premiums for its insurance in Washington, New York or New Jersey.
USCCA agreed to pay the $100,000 fine and $5,457 in unpaid premium taxes, penalties and interest, which will be deposited in the state’s general fund.
At the beginning of this year, Kreidler’s office fined an insurer and an insurance agency a total of $177,000 for selling similar illegal liability policies in Washington state under the National Rifle Association’s Carry Guard program, the statement said.