There are many myths about the aftermath of a self defense incident, especially when it comes to insurance, financial consequences, and law. Here are five of the most common misunderstandings that could prove devastating.
1. Homeowners Policies
One of the most widespread myths about self defense “coverage” is that your homeowners policy will protect you after you use a weapon 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 in the criminal case.
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, the way Second Call Defense can.
2. Self Defense Insurance
Very few insurance companies are willing to provide any kind of insurance for intentionally using a weapon, even if it is justifiable self defense. Those who claim to provide such insurance may promise to cover you after an incident, 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.
3. Umbrella Coverage
Many people think that if they buy generic liability coverage, often called an “umbrella” policy, they will be protected if they use lethal force 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.
4. 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.
5. Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground
Recent Changes in self-defense laws and general firearms regulations have eased restrictions, if not eliminated some pertaining to the use of lethal force in self-defense. However, these changes have given some a false sense of security when it comes to defending their use of lethal force after the smoke clears. Make no mistake, after you use lethal force whether it’s “brandishing” your firearm or pressing the trigger, you need immediate legal protection from a qualified Attorney, immediate protection, tomorrow is too late.
Admittedly, these well publicized changes to self-defense laws do favor the true victim that uses lethal force in self-defense. Changes including the removal of the duty to retreat, sometimes referred as “stand your ground;” castle doctrine laws that protect the defender homeowner; and a general favorable shift in the mindset of law enforcement that recognizes the value of an armed civilian, all tend to favor the defender. But, make no mistake, based upon my experience in dealing with hundreds of self-defense incidents over many years, there will be an in depth police investigation; your version of things will be questioned; you may be handcuffed; detained in the back of a police car; separated from your loved ones; taken to the police station to be interviewed by homicide detectives; and even face a hostile antigun prosecutor who takes your “case” to the grand jury to decide your fate. The “immediate legal protection” you must have does not come cheap, and even if money is no issue, where do you find the Attorney you need, immediately, 24 hours a day anywhere in the United States?