Shots Fired – Active Shooter / Assailant Coverage: A Critical Need in Emergency Response Plans, Part 1November 9, 2018
Kelsey Moore, Senior Associate Broker, Worldwide Facilities – Los Angeles
Brooke Leadbetter, Associate Broker, Worldwide Facilities – Los Angeles
Shani Stewart, Associate Broker, Worldwide Facilities – Los Angeles
Public mass shootings are deadlier than ever in the United States. The first modern-day mass shooting occurred in 1966 at the University of Texas in Austin when an architectural engineering student took guns into a campus tower and killed 13 people while wounding more than 31. With deadly accuracy, he killed victims as far as two blocks from the tower. As recently as June 2018, a lone gunman killed five and injured two at the Capital Gazette in Maryland. The gunman allegedly was upset about the newspaper’s portrayal of him in their news coverage.
Active shootings are a frequent occurrence in the United States. We know what has occurred immediately when we see the breaking news. After the Newtown massacre, Congress defined mass killings as three or more killed in a single incident.
In the United States, 2017 saw more mass shootings than days. So pervasive is this risk in our society that many executives now inquire about the availability of insurance coverage for a mass shooting. Likely, however, many of your insureds are unaware of this coverage. They could benefit from its pre-event planning and may be impressed with its ratio of premium to value.
Active shooting is a risk that every school district, entertainment venue, hotel and organization must consider and aggressively work to prevent. The randomness of these events is what makes them virtually impossible to defend against. Every organization is vulnerable. Increasingly, proactive risk managers are buying insurance coverage for such events. Rather than wait for an incident to occur, they evaluate their organizations, look for weaknesses and use this coverage to preplan for an active shooter event.
Today’s active shooter coverage goes far beyond pure insurance, however, by offering a proactive approach to prevention and response. Active shooter coverage allows organizations to holistically plan for the worst type of event before it happens.
By offering this coverage, agents and brokers can reduce the possibility of an errors and omissions claim and help clients protect their people and property.
This three-part article will provide a brief history of mass shootings, discuss how the insurance industry pioneered coverage for these critical events and examine what the future holds in terms of coverage. It will also familiarize retail agents with active shooter coverage basics.
A Historical Look at Mass Shootings
School shootings are not a new phenomenon. The 1990s, however, saw a sharp rise in gun violence in our nation’s schools. In response, architects began to design schools with interior playgrounds surrounded by buildings to prevent drive-by shootings.
With the number of mass shootings continuing to rise, however, architects started viewing environmental design with more emphasis on “crime prevention through environmental design.” Rebuilding Sandy Hook Elementary School was one challenge undertaken by architects, who designed a “hardened entrance” where administrators can observe visitors as they approach. This new design included classroom deadbolts that lock automatically and windows coated with glaze that prevent them from being opened enough to crawl through for up to 15 minutes after breached by a gunshot. New building designs may now come complete with planned escape routes. This is chilling, but an increasingly vital step in contemporary urban planning.
Insight into the Response to Violence
Mass shootings can happen anywhere. School bullying can trigger shootings, but the concern is not isolated to school shootings. Consider the Mandalay Bay hotel gunman who killed more than 50 and injured hundreds. This random act turned a concert event into a killing field. Authorities now train special response teams and better arm their officers. However, organizations must make their own preparations since police response may not stop the active shooter for some time, especially in rural areas.
Police departments are increasing their training efforts to provide a rapid and skillful response to these events.
In many active shooting events, officers encounter perpetrators with multiple weapons and long firearms, such as assault weapons. In a small number of cases, the attackers wear body armor and bring explosive devices. Smaller police departments lack the intense training of urban officers. When officers went in solo, gunmen wounded one-third of the first responding officers according to one study. Today’s police officers who are taught the risk of solo entry may gather on-scene intelligence and await backup. However prudent this action, it can increase fatalities and the possibility of negative press.
These events are highly complex and evolving. Business owners and risk managers are seeking solutions. Organizations are turning to event policies, for occasions like parades, or to annual policies that offer year-round active shooter insurance coverage.
Workplace Violence Versus Mass Casualty Events
Casualties arise from workplace violence, but there is a difference between events with one or two casualties and an active shooting. The difference is the number of victims. Workplace violence often results from a domestic violence issue or a perceived unjust termination. In these cases, the perpetrator may seek a single or a few victims believed at fault. In active shooting incidents, the perpetrators often select victims at random and the event typically occurs without warning. Active shooters intend to express hatred or rage. Since many of the events end in suicide, this makes containment of the shooter more difficult. Wherever the violence occurs and whatever it results from, organizations must move to a more preventative approach and understand that no organization, despite its size or purpose, is immune.
In our next post, we will look at how the insurance industry pioneered coverage to meet the growing threat of active-shooter violence and the available insurance coverage for these types of events.
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