5 self defense myths that can destroy you financially!

There are many myths about the aftermath of a self defense shooting, especially when it comes to insurance, financial consequences, and law. Here are five of the most common misunderstandings that could prove devastating.

Homeowners Policies

One of the most widespread myths about self defense "coverage" is that your homeowners policy will protect you after you use a firearm for self defense. However, most homeowner liability policies contain a provision that excludes coverage for injury or damage intentionally caused by the insured. This is sometimes called the "intentional injury exclusion."

A few policies include language for a "reasonable force" exception for "bodily injury resulting from the use of reasonable force to protect persons or property." But this only protects you for "liability," meaning damages in a civil case and apply only after you are acquitted or the charges are dismissed.

By law, none of these policies can provide immediate assistance for an attorney retainer, bond money, lost wages, criminal defense fees, and other potentially devastating expenses. Back to List

Self Defense Insurance

Very few insurance companies are willing to provide any kind of insurance for using a firearm, even if it is justifiable self defense. Those who claim to provide such insurance may promise to cover you after a shooting, but the reality may not match the promise. After an extensive study of available policies across the U.S., we have found that these policies …

  • May not pay anything until after an expensive trial and you are found not guilty.
  • May have low limits on payments, sometimes as low as $5,000 total (which may barely cover a lawyer's retainer fee).
  • Offer no coverage for bail, so you may have to pay this yourself or spend considerable time in jail.
  • Offer no reimbursement for lost wages, so you may find it difficult to pay bills while you're in court defending yourself.
  • May be a rider on another expensive policy you are forced to buy before you get any coverage.
  • May have language in the fine print that prevents any support at all because the underwriter has no experience with the realities of firearms or criminal defense law. Back to List

Umbrella Coverage

Many people think that if they buy generic liability coverage, often called an "umbrella" policy, they will be protected if they use a gun in self defense. However, it is against the law for any insurance company to insure you against illegal actions you may commit.

So if you are charged with a crime, your umbrella policy will not protect you unless charges are dropped or you are acquitted. It is possible that an umbrella policy may provide some coverage for civil liability, but since civil suits generally follow criminal suits, you are unlikely to have coverage when you need it. Back to List

Savings and Retirement

Unless you are a multimillionaire, it is unlikely that you have enough ready cash available to cover all the potential costs of criminal or civil action against you. And even if you do have IRAs or savings to dip into, will it cover all your costs?

Will it cover a huge civil damage award? Will you lose your house? What will you do if all your assets are taken from you? How will you retire? Is it right to put such a burden on your family if they must support you when you're penniless? And to make matters worse, withdrawing funds from a retirement account can trigger IRS penalties and taxes.

For most people, relying on savings or retirement cash is a huge financial risk. Back to List

Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground

Legal principles put into place in recent years have made using lethal force easier to defend. But they do not remove the need to hire an attorney or give you a "get out jail free" card.

Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground provide a way for police and prosecutors to think about self defense that favors you, the defender, rather than your attacker. But no matter how justified you may be in using lethal force, the police will show up to investigate your use of a firearm. If you are in a jurisdiction that is "anti-gun," you can still face arrest and prosecution requiring a robust legal defense that can cost thousands of dollars. Back to List

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