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NRA Ordered to Stop Selling 'Self-Defense Insurance' in California

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has ordered the National Rifle Association to stop selling liability insurance in the state without a license.

By Lauren Hernandez

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has ordered the National Rifle Association to stop selling liability insurance in the state without a license.

Jones issued the cease-and-desist order on Tuesday after officials with the California Department of Insurance, the agency that processes licenses and reviews insurers in the state, alleged that the NRA marketed the "Carry Guard Personal Firearms Liability Including Self-Defense Insurance Policy" via email to a mailing list of subscribers in June 2017.

The policy states it provides "comprehensive training" and coverage for gun owners or a "resident family member of the policy holder" for bodily injury or property damage with a legally possessed firearm while engaged in "an act of self-defense," according to the order.

California's insurance code prohibits a person from marketing insurance policies or negotiating insurance policies in the state without a license.

The NRA does not have an insurance license in the state, according to the Department of Insurance. As of July 26, roughly 2,397 California residents were active NRA policy holders despite the NRA's unlicensed standing, according to the order.

Officials with the NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. The association's website outlining the insurance policy was still live Tuesday.

Emails sent to the NRA's mailing list include statements from chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre and spokesperson Dana Loesch asking subscribers to sign up for the policy.

The order alleges Loesch said in marketing emails that the policy would protect gun owners and their families "for just pennies a day."

LaPierre told NRA subscribers via email the policy would "close a critical gap" in their insurance coverage and that he looked "forward to hearing that you've secured this important protection for you and your family."

"The California Department of Insurance insists on full compliance with California law that requires persons soliciting the purchase of insurance in California must be appropriately licensed to do so," said Dave Jones, the insurance commissioner. "Because the NRA allegedly failed to comply with this California legal requirement, it became necessary for the department to take this action against the NRA to end this illegal conduct in California."

The policy reportedly also covers damage from the use of a firearm, air gun, bow and arrow, or trapping equipment by a resident family member of the policyholder "in an act of self-defense" at the holder's residence, during shooting competitions, at recreational hunting clubs, gun clubs or at "supervised commercial or private ranges," according to the order.

Policy holders could set their insurance limit from $250,000 to $1,000,000, which also includes reimbursement of costs related to criminal proceedings that don't result in a guilty plea or conviction, the order states.

NRA officials can request an administrative hearing to review the order, according to the California Department of Insurance.

(c)2018 the San Francisco Chronicle

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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