The shooting in Dayton, Ohio, August 4, became the 247th mass shooting in the U.S. in 2019. At an average of more than one mass shooting per day, statistics highlight the need for awareness among organizations of all sizes about how to protect people and assets and, where possible, reduce risks of an attack.
While some perpetrators of mass shootings publicize their motive, often using social media to espouse extreme beliefs or identify targets, such media-grabbing behavior is not typical. (As defined by gunviolencearchive.org, a mass shooting incident is considered an event where four or more people are shot or killed, excluding the assailant.)
Terrorism has changed in terms of perpetrators and their beliefs. The frequency and methods of attack have also changed. This makes risk more complex and emphasizes the importance of organizations being prepared. Failure to handle a situation professionally and with due care can have consequences for individuals’ safety and cause damage to an organization’s reputation. Ensuring staff are educated on the risks and having a clear risk management and crisis response plan could make the difference in an incident and in dealing with the aftermath.
For these reasons, insurance products have developed to combine traditional risk transfer with crisis response and risk management provided by experts in the field. Today, the market offers deadly weapon protection policies that also combine crisis response services. Through service-led policies, response experts will audit organizations’ premises and crisis planning, and offer educational training and resources that can be shared with employees. Should an attack take place, they will provide security as well as services including crisis PR and counseling for victims and families. In a live crisis, one of the first things the response team will do is identify who the stakeholders are, what communications need to go to them, who is responsible for communication and through which channels.
By combining these crisis management services with a strong insurance indemnification pillar, carriers have created robust offerings designed to respond to incidents involving deadly weapons on a primary basis. Coverage can be purchased for third-party liability as well as first-party property damage and business interruption. The definition of a deadly weapon is at times deliberately broad, and in response to the increase in incidents involving vehicles and other items that have been repurposed as weapons. Policies can be triggered merely by a weapon being brandished. Today, coverage can be adapted depending on the insured’s need, with extensions including loss of attraction, loss of tuition fees for schools, and demolition, clearance and memorialization.
As risks become more complex, it is important for the broker and client to be aware of the availability of specialist products and the limitations of a general liability policy. GL policies were not designed to respond to shootings and, for clients, having the correct coverage is becoming an issue of good corporate governance.
As we have seen in recent months, these incidents can occur anywhere at any time, and it is vital that risk managers and business owners have a clear plan in place and are aware of how their insurance will respond should they fall victim to an attack.
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