Human behavior is complex and often irrational. It can be difficult to predict and the negative effects can wreak havoc on your organization and reputation. An incursion of an armed assailant intent on inflicting harm can have potentially disastrous consequences for an affected organization.
Although shootings are all too often in the headlines, experience reminds us that devastation can also be wrought using seemingly everyday items such as knives and road vehicles. If an institution gets things wrong the liability on the owners and management for a non-staff member harmed in an attack can be significant. Beazley is an expert in liability insurance and in 2016 we created the Deadly Weapons Protection policy specifically to assist institutions that are at risk. Drawing on our well of experience in this risk space we’ve compiled some informative content to help debunk some common misconceptions regarding this area of risk and the available cover.
Deadly Weapons Protection insurance is designed to help insureds respond solely to mass shooting events
While mass casualty shooting events are an all too regular feature in the news, these events represent just the most extreme and horrible instances of a regrettable trend of increasing everyday violence experienced by many organizations across America. These acts of violence, perpetrated with a range of weapons, are unfortunately more commonplace than you may think and do not always make the news.
Every organization, regardless of size or industry, has an exposure which poses a threat to the safety to its people and those on its premises. There are many potential sources of tension which could lead to violence. National and local political issues, redundancies, gang violence, COVID-19, the economy, race relations, workplace disputes, personal finances, mental health, domestic abuse, and terrorism could all be a trigger.
To help create safer environments, Deadly Weapons Protection provides effective risk management services to help organizations reduce their potential exposure to violence and to protect their people and their customers.
There is nothing organizations can do to prevent violence
Total immunity from risk is impossible, but effective risk management can reduce your exposure and reinforce your commitment to the highest standards of safety. Your employees, customers and those entrusted to your care expect you to provide a safe environment free from hazards.
While some organizations may feel there are no or limited practicable steps they can take to eliminate the risk of a violent assailant inflicting harm, experience shows us that those who spend time addressing the risks are best placed to manage through a crisis.
From a legal standpoint, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)1 includes a general duty clause requiring employers to take feasible measures to provide employees with a workplace environment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm”. With deadly weapon events on the increase employers should therefore consider violence prevention and response as a key component of their risk management strategy.
The cover is triggered when violence occurs
Helping organizations prevent violence is at the heart of Deadly Weapons Protection. Our experience tells us that warning signs often precede acts of violence. This may include threats from an angry customer; overhearing a student discussing access to weapons with friends; an employee raising fears about an ex-partner; or the receipt of threatening communication from a recently terminated employee.
Identifying and acting upon these warning signs is vital. We have therefore designed our policy to provide the support organizations need to help prevent acts of violence if they feel one is reasonably likely to occur.
In the policy language we refer to this situation as a “circumstance” and our crisis responders are available to offer advice and support 24x7 with any circumstance which concerns our insureds.
Moreover, we recognize that the brandishing of a weapon or a threat to do so, even where no one is harmed, can have a serious impact on those who witness it. Our crisis management services are available the moment a weapon is brandished, regardless of whether it is used or whether anyone is harmed as a result.
It is just a liability policy
What makes our Deadly Weapons Protection product effective is the breadth of cover and services offered. While Beazley is an expert in liability insurance the product offers a range of carefully designed services and first party coverages in addition to third party liability and services.
At inception all clients receive a telephone consultation from our service provider to analyze the security and risk management precautions currently in place. Every insured receives a full written report and follow up call to help discuss the findings and recommendations. Our Deadly Weapons Protection portal is also a great source of useful information on risk prevention.
After a deadly weapon event, qualified professionals will be on hand to provide guidance to insureds through the heat of a crisis and help their investigation.
Our crisis responders can help the insured reach out to the local community and provide counselling services to those affected by the event. They will also be on hand to assist the insured with media management, crisis counselling, public relations and brand rehabilitation. Other services available include emergency travel and accommodation, as well as child care for employees of the insured and immediate family members. Site security, remediation and recovery, and restoration services are also available where required.
First party coverage includes a physical damage sublimit alongside funeral costs, memorialization, and an optional business interruption extension.
My commercial general liability (CGL) policy provides coverage
Coverage for a deadly weapon attack is a grey area with many CGL policies remaining silent on coverage or excluding it outright. Certain high profile claims have highlighted the reluctance of some CGL insurers to provide cover for deadly weapon events. Moreover, if there is cover it may only be triggered on the presentation of a third party claim for which the insured is liable and is often subject to a high self-insured retention (SIR).
Owing to deteriorating claims environment some CGL carriers are now explicitly excluding violent acts including assault with a deadly weapon or limiting cover to a much lower sublimit.
Unlike Beazley Deadly Weapons Protection, CGL policies were not typically designed to cover these type of events. Our Deadly Weapons Protection policy offers affirmative, primary liability coverage, regardless of the attacker’s motive, alongside prevention and crisis management services.
If a client is confident of the coverage under their CGL, they may still purchase cover – and secure access to our risk management and crisis response services – as a deductible buy back.
The product was designed solely for K-12 schools and higher education
While 23% of our book is in the education sector, organizations across a wide range of sectors can benefit from the services and insurance protection offered. We have seen significant interest from organizations who own or manage portfolios of commercial property including multi occupancy office blocks and industrial sites. These organizations are often responsible for coordinating security for multiple occupants with significant numbers of people entering and leaving the site at all times during the day. We have also provided cover to hotel chains, casinos, cinemas, theme parks, nightclubs, bowling alleys, restaurants, retail, offices, sporting events, conferences, political events, festivals and government entities, as well as healthcare providers and religious institutions.
Every organization, regardless of size or industry, has an exposure which poses a threat to the safety to its people and those on its premises. With events of violence increasing, risk management and insurance for the threat of assault with deadly weapons should be a core consideration for all organizations.