Should your Properties Have Active Shooter Insurance?

Content Warning: this article contains language about active shooter situations and death that some readers may find upsetting.

Active shooter insurance, also known as active assailant coverage, has been a growing interest from businesses across America. This insurance aims to provide relief for all expenses relating to a shooting, from victim aid to crisis management services. The question is, what’s included in active shooter insurance, and does the multifamily housing industry need it?

What defines an active shooter incident?

The FBI defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area”. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security notes that incidents are “often unpredictable and evolve quickly”.


Active Shooter

Mass Shooter

An active shooter is an individual who attempts to kill or actively engages in killing people in a populated area.

An active shooter assailant becomes a mass shooter once the number of injured and/or dead reaches 4.

While an active shooter is pretty clearly defined, it’s important to note that how active shooter incidents are recorded vary widely, which can make the total number of active shooter incidents a touchy subject. Some organizations stick close to the active shooter definition, while others do not factor in active shooter incidents that are gang related or related to another crime in their total number.

What is typically included in active shooter insurance?

Depending on your current insurance coverage, the standard liability coverage might not apply in an active shooter crisis. This is where active shooter insurance or active assailant coverage for multifamily properties comes in. As a stand-alone policy, this coverage type would supplement your current general liability coverage, and could aid with some of the following:

  • Crisis management services or emergency response teams, costs for business interruption/extra expenses, and public relations
  • Legal liability expenses like defense costs, indemnity, judgements, or settlements
  • Physical damages to the property and future prevention (security)
  • Job retraining or relocation
  • Victim expenses, like medical and/or dental, victim counseling and psychiatric care, & death, funeral and burial expenses
  • Workers’ compensation for rehabilitation, vision loss, hearing loss, or permanent disablement

Active shooter exclusions (also known as terrorism exclusions)

If you’re considering active assailant coverage for your properties, you’ll need to be wary of terrorism exclusions. Some policies define terrorism differently, which can prohibit you from redeeming coverage after an incident if it does not meet their precise definition of terrorism. This can include casualty thresholds or define the act based on the weapon(s) used.

If you decide to take on active shooter insurance, you should consider the following:

1. Employees and Casualty Thresholds

Be wary of coverage that only includes residents and their guests but not your employees – or vice versa. Additionally, some available policies only apply after a certain number of people have been injured or killed. You want your coverage to apply to any and all victims.

2. Weapons and Vehicles

Some active shooter insurance policies define their coverage as an attack made with only a firearm or bladed weapon. This doesn’t cover incidents where explosives or ordinary, improvised weapons might have been used. It also might not cover attacks or damages where a vehicle was used (such as if there was an incident where a vehicle drove through a property’s community event).

3. Crisis Management

In an event of an active shooter incident, you want to make sure you have professionals help you navigate what to do afterwards. Crisis management services are especially important if your staff have been affected, so you’ll want to look for a coverage that offers this.

Should your rental property have active shooter insurance?

Deciding to get active shooter insurance or active assailant coverage for your rental properties is a difficult decision, that frankly doesn’t have an easy answer.

Workplace violence is nothing new. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), acts of violence and other injuries is the 3rd leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. While active shooter incidents (thankfully) don’t all result in injury or death, it’s undeniable that this form of violence has been slowly increasing, with ten more active shooter incidents from 2016 to 2017 than its prior two-year period. And, having that coverage could provide some relief if necessary. This is especially important in the case of victim counselling, which could apply after an active shooter incident (regardless if an injury or death took place).

That being said, by nature, these incidents happen spontaneously. If you take a look at the FBI’s list of active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2018, you’ll see that incidents have happened in a myriad of locations… at schools and universities, dental offices and clinics, restaurants, construction sites, churches and temples, and yes, even apartments. Incidents can happen anywhere and at any time, and like with most industries, the need for active shooter insurance in the multifamily housing industry is still up in the air. Should you choose to equip yourself with active shooter insurance, you may not ever need it.

Like with all supplemental insurance policies, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The cost involved with supplemental plans like active assailant coverage can easily deter the savviest rental property owner. However, if you are faced with an active shooter incident, the costs involved are easily far greater. Do you think your properties, or the multifamily housing industry, should have active shooter coverage?

For More Resources on Active Shooter Preparedness, Visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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