5 Things You Must Know About Concealed Carry Insurance Before You Buy
What is concealed carry insurance or coverage?
CCW Insurance is an insurance policy or membership intended to help cover your legal fees in the case of you drawing your firearm in self defense.
These fees can include attorney fees, bail, expert witnesses, investigators, trial exhibits, and other related expenses.
Even if you are 100% innocent you can still be arrested and charged with a crime when using your firearm in self defense. It happens more often than you might think.
Who needs concealed carry insurance?
That’s like asking who needs medical insurance or car insurance or life insurance. You don’t need it until you need it.
Ultimately this is a personal question that you have to answer but in my opinion if you are going to carry concealed every day then YES…
YOU Need CCW Coverage.
What does CCW Insurance actually cover?
That depends on the provider and coverage you choose. Every provider is different and offers a different basket of services.
There are some critical things to look for that we will cover below.
Will CCW Insurance cover me if I’m convicted?
Again that depends on the insurance provider you choose. Some providers will cover your legal expenses regardless of the outcome of the case (all of them that I found require your use of a firearm to be in self defense before accepting your claim. They will not provide assistance if you murder someone in cold blood or during the commission of a crime obviously).
Some providers only cover your fees after the trial and only if you are not convicted.
This is a major issue if you don’t have money to fight your case in court to begin with. If the most you can come up with is $20,000 to fight your case you’re not going to have much of a defense especially in a murder trial.
The “reimbursement” model is not a good model for coverage so beware of policies that operate on this model.
How much coverage do I really need?
This is a big one. When I started my research I had no idea how much a case can cost. Even a small case that ends up getting dropped without ever going to trial can cost $10,000 between bail, attorney fees, etc.
A murder charge that goes to trial can easily cost over $500,000.
While doing research I learned about the case of North Carolina vs. Steve Maddox.
Mr. Maddox was at a party and was attacked multiple times by a 300lb man before he finally fired in self defense killing his attacker.
He immediately reported the shooting by calling 911. He cooperated with police. But at the end of the day Mr. Maddox was charged with first degree murder.
After being arrested Mr. Maddox was held without bond. The attorneys who were hired to represent him petitioned the court and overturned that ruling. His bond was set at $500,000 (it cost him $37,000 or 6% of his bond just to get out of jail).
After word of the shooting spread he was promptly fired from his job. He had bills to pay. He did not have the kind of money that would be required to fight a murder trial.
CCW Safe immediately deployed their critical response team to North Carolina where Mr. Maddox was charged. The team helped find a local self defense attorney who knew his way around the local legal system.
They worked with a local bond agent and got him out on just 6% of his $500,000 bond ($37,000). Then they went to work on his defense.
His attorneys worked with the police department and prosecutors to prove his innocence and get the charges dropped. Everyone on Mr. Maddox’s team was confident the charges would be dropped without having to go to trial.
But they were wrong, the prosecutor did not drop the charges and Mr. Maddox and his legal team had to go to trial.
Mr. Maddox managed to survive a fight for his life using his firearm, but now he faced another fight for his life in court.
During the trial Mr. Maddox’s legal team brought in expert witnesses. They also brought in attorney Don West as a consultant to the attorney’s fighting the case (Don West is one of the attorneys who successfully defended George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin).
In the end the system worked and the jury fully acquitted Mr. Maddox of all charges, including lesser charges, after just 2 hours of deliberation. (apparently it was clear to the jury that Mr. Maddox was innocent. Why didn't the prosecutor see it?)
Mr. Maddox would not have been able to afford that type of legal defense on his own. Thanks to his legal service membership with CCW Safe he was able to properly fight this case to the end.
In total his case cost more than $350,000. The trial lasted just two weeks.
Had Mr. Maddox not had coverage things could have turned out differently. He was facing life in prison.
This is a scary example but a true example of how our legal system works. You are not innocent until proven guilty, especially in a self defense case.
You can be arrested, charged, and your life can be ruined before you are ever proven innocent in a court of law.
So to circle back to the question of “How much coverage do I really need?” the answer is, it depends on the situation.
Maybe $10,000 will cover it if it's not a murder case. Maybe $100,000 is what it takes. Maybe $500,000. You won’t know until you’re there.
I’ve been told by several attorneys that a murder case that goes to trial will cost between $250,000 - $500,000 generally but can go above that depending on the circumstances.
Image provided by CCW Safe
There are several major companies providing coverage for concealed carry. The big 5 are CCW Safe, USCCA, Second Call Defense, NRA Carry Guard, and US Law Shield.
It is virtually impossible to do an apples to apples comparison of these 5 providers for the simple reason that the basket of coverage and services offered are different for each provider.
The best way to go about this is to just tell you who I chose and why.
The Defender Plan starts at just $14.92 per month or $179 per year and provides unlimited attorney fees, investigators fees, expert witness fees, and all trial costs covered 100% up front.
As far as concealed carry coverage goes their prices are directly in line with the other providers out there.
The coverage CCW Safe provides is much better than its competitors which I’ll get into below.
As of this writing (3-5-2019), CCW Safe is the ONLY company in this class to have defended a member through a complete murder 1 trial and successfully achieved a not guilty verdict with no lesser charges.
To my knowledge no other concealed carry insurer has done this.
Up To $1 Mil. Bond
CCW Safe offers the highest bond bail coverage up to $1 Mil bond covered in their Ultimate Plan (Note that on a $1 Mil bond you typically pay 10% of that or $100,000. So $1 Mil coverage means they will pay up to $100,000 to bond you out.)
Many other providers offer much less as low as $25K coverage or $2,500 towards bond.
No Cap On Criminal Defense Fund
CCW Safe has no cap on the criminal defense fund, retainer fee for attorney, or up front costs.
Most other providers have a capped limit of criminal defense coverage of between $150-$250K.
A provider might advertise $1 Mil coverage but you must READ THE FINE PRINT…
They typically break that coverage down to 80/20, 20% or $200,000 is allotted for a criminal defense and 80% or $800,000 for a civil defense.
What good is $800,000 in coverage for a civil defense if you end up in prison on a criminal charge?
Having the money up front is key because it costs money at every step.
If you are involved in a self defense shooting it is highly likely that you will be arrested and taken in for questioning. If you are not released and end up being charged for a crime you will need to find a bail bondsman to bail you out.
The fee is typically 10% of your bond. So, if your bond is $100,000 you need to come up with $10,000 to get out of jail.
Then the real fees begin when you have to retain an attorney and start the judicial process.
In a murder case an attorney might want as much as $250,000 or more up front just to take your case.
CCW Safe provides all funds 100% up front.
Beware of providers who operate on a reimbursement model as this model requires YOU to pay your legal fees up front and then they typically will only reimburse you if you are found not guilty.
If you don’t have the money to put together a solid legal defense up front this type of insurance is useless.
No Cap On Civil Defense Fund & $1 Mil. Coverage For Civil Damages
Beating a criminal charge might just be the first step. The spouse or family of the person you shot may file a civil suit against you. Also, if an innocent bystander is hit they may file a lawsuit against you.
CCW Safe provides no cap on legal fees on your civil defense and provides up to $1 million dollars of coverage for civil damages if it is determined by the court that you are liable for damages.
Critical Response Team With "Boots On The Ground"
Every concealed carry insurer that I found claims to offer a “critical response team”. But CCW Safe is the only provider that I found that actually deploys boots on the ground. Their critical defense team will immediately fly to your location to start providing support.
The CCW Safe staff is made up of mostly retired police officers who know how the system works and will be there for you in person to help you through the process. Most other providers offer nothing more than 24hr access to their “critical response team” via phone and they do not have a team who will actually show up to help you fight your case.
No Cap On Investigator’s Fees & Expenses
If an investigator is needed in your case he or she will be flown to your location. The investigator will incur living expenses, meal expenses, etc while working on your case.
CCW Safe covers all of that with no cap. No other providers that I looked at offered any coverage for these fees at all.
Appeals & Criminal Record Expungement Covered
CCW Safe provides coverage for appeals and criminal record expungement at no additional cost to its members.
Most other providers do not offer any coverage on appeals or criminal record expungement.
Choose Your Own Attorney
CCW Safe allows you to choose your own attorney and they will even vet them for you. This allows you to work with an attorney local to the area you are charged.
Having an attorney who knows the lay of the land in the local area is critical. Imagine the difference of a “hired gun” attorney who fly's in from out of state and tries to navigate a judicial system where nobody knows them.
I don’t know about you but I don’t think that’s the best approach.
Most insurance policies require you to work with an attorney in their network. If it happens that they do not have a local attorney in your area they will need to fly in someone from out of town or possibly even out of state.
There are many reasons people do not opt to buy concealed carry coverage. Most people will say the reason they don’t have concealed carry insurance is because of budget (ie. I can’t afford it).
The reality is that this coverage is very reasonably priced and if you are serious about being covered you’ll find a way to afford it.
The second biggest reason I hear from people that don’t get coverage is that they feel like they’re protected by the 2nd amendment. In other words, they feel that because they are licensed to carry that the 2nd amendment will protect them.
But the fact is, this is not a 2nd amendment issue. There are many reasons you could be charged with a crime when using your firearm in self defense.
Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe you said the wrong thing to the police when they showed up. Maybe you were wearing a “Kill’em All & Let God Sort’em Out” shirt. Maybe your gun had modifications that triggered the police to believe you had bad intentions. Maybe the witnesses had a different story than you. Maybe there is a political agenda in the local area where the shooting occurred.
Remember prosecutors are elected officials and they absolutely feel pressure from the voters to handle situations like this differently in different regions of the US.
The list goes on and on. Innocent people are charged for crimes and forced to defend themselves all the time. To think that “it won’t happen to me” is not accurate thinking.
Remember in a self defense shooting you are claiming Affirmative Defense.
In other words you are not stating that you did not shoot your attacker, that wouldn’t make any sense. You are admitting that you shot your attacker, but you are stating that it was justified.
As far as the prosecuting attorney is concerned you have already proven his case. Therefore, it will be up to you and your legal team to prove that what you did was in self defense and therefore should be excused.