A while back, we reported on how the state of New York was investigating the NRA’s Carry Guard insurance. It seems that investigation is now complete, and while the NRA is clear, the underwriter was fined to the tune of $7 million for unlawfully providing liability insurance to residents of New York who purchased the plans through the NRA.
In Wednesday’s statement, state superintendent of financial services, Maria Vullo, called the company’s conduct “an egregious violation of public policy.”
Vullo explained Lockton, which served as the administrator for the NRA-branded Carry Guard insurance, agreed to the pay the fine as part of a consent order with the Department of Financial Services for violating New York insurance law.
According to the announcement, a DFS investigation revealed that the NRA did not have a license to run an insurance business in the state, but actively marketed the product anyway. The NRA advertised Carry Guard policies as covering legal expenses for individuals charged with a crime after a self-defense shooting.
The state licensed Lockton Affinity as an excess line insurance broker, which allows the company to offer policy holders insurance options unavailable from licensed insurers in the state. However, Lockton failed to comply with state law and misrepresented its compliance record.
State law requires brokers to approach three separate authorized insurers to see if one of them will write coverage for the risk, but all three must decline the request before the broker pursues another option. Lockton “relied upon the single annual declination with respect to all other insureds who received policies under the programs,” the announcement says.
The investigation found Lockton issued 680 Carry Guard policies to New York residents between April and November in 2017, but their relationship goes back nearly two decades. Between January 2000 and March 2018, Lockton and the NRA offered at least 11 insurance programs in New York, which generated more than $12 million in premiums and $758,460 in admin fees.
As part of the agreement, Lockton will agree not to cover any New Yorkers through the NRA program.
Make no mistake, though. I fully expect anyone else who works with the NRA will get this same treatment. It’s not like the governor there hasn’t been openly hostile to the organization or anything.
However, it’s also worth noting that $7 million isn’t really much of a burden on companies like this. Oh, they’d rather not pay it, but it’s not about to stop them from doing business. It might not even be enough to keep them from trying to do business in New York through the NRA again, truth be told.
Then again, Lockton had already severed ties with the NRA following Parkland, which may be why regulators took it relatively easy on the company. After all, they’ve already signaled their virtue.
Carry Guard insurance has been on uncertain ground since then, as both Lockton and another underwriter jumped ship. Sounds like a hell of an excuse to drop that money on the insurance plan if you haven’t already, which happens to still be through Lockton apparently. So, maybe they haven’t completely jumped ship?
Sign up for the insurance to signal that there are still a lot of us here. If underwriters know there’s a lot more to lose than to gain, they’ll stick around. We just need to make sure they know that.