Washington state weighs further legal action against NRA-branded insurance program

Washington state weighs further legal action against NRA-branded insurance program
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Washington state is considering taking further legal action against a National Rifle Association–branded insurance program after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) encouraged other states to consider banning the insurance.

Washington’s insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a statement Wednesday that the state will take a second look at the "Carry Guard" program, which offers liability coverage to people who fire a gun. Kreidler issued a cease-and-desist order in April against four of the program's insurance products.

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The state issued the order earlier this year after finding the policies were offered by the NRA without an insurance producer license, which violates state law.

“I am extremely concerned that the NRA continues to promote what appears to be a misleading product that may not provide consumers the protection it promises,” Kreidler said in a statement.

“Consumers deserve to understand what they’re buying,” he continued. “If they’re being misled, I will take immediate action to protect them.” 

NRA counsel William Brewer defended the group in a statement to The Hill, saying it has "acted appropriately at all times" and that it had relied on the firm offering the insurance, Lockton, to comply with state regulations.

He said that the NRA had made changes to the Carry Guard program after discussing it with Kreidler's office last year, and were "subsequently assured by the Commissioner’s staff that the program complies fully with the laws and regulations of the State of Washington – where Carry Guard insurance continues to be sold."

"Against that backdrop, today’s announcement comes as a total surprise," Brewer said. "Nonetheless, the NRA will continue to cooperate with all lawful inquiries.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) said in a statement Wednesday that they support Kreidler's actions, calling the insurance program "potentially misleading and illegal."

"We must do whatever we can to protect Washingtonians and ensure nothing sold in our state would facilitate gun violence," they said.

Financial regulators in New York found earlier this year that the Carry Guard program violated state law by offering coverage to gun owners who fired a weapon in cases of “intentional wrongdoing.” 

Cuomo said Saturday that he is calling on other states “to join New York to outlaw this absurd program that insures intentional criminal conduct" if they determine the program also violates their state's laws.

The NRA alleged last month in an amended complaint against New York state officials that it is facing severe financial difficulties.

The gun group claims that it was unable to obtain insurance after Cuomo urged businesses in the state to reconsider their ties to the NRA.

Cuomo, who has been highly critical of the NRA, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Friday and said that he welcomes the legal challenge.

—Updated at 6:02 p.m.