Healthcare News & Insights

Why hospitals need active shooter insurance

With the unfortunate rise in mass shooting incidents in the United States, hospitals are constantly practicing simulation drills, ensuring hospital personnel – doctors, nurses, counselors, administration, etc. – know how to respond to a rapid influx of patients with serious gunshot injuries. But what if a mass shooting takes place at the hospital? Are they prepared for the aftermath? In this guest post, Burns Parker, a VP of an independent insurance agency, details where active shooter insurance comes into play.


Many standard coverage insurance policies don’t provide coverage for an active shooter event, so things like an event crisis response team, victim counseling, funeral expenses or increased security wouldn’t be covered, and costs can quickly add up.

There’s also an abundance of factors that determine whether a standard insurance policy will cover an active shooter incident, including whether the insured is deemed liable for the attack and if there’s significant damage to the hospital building or its contents that prevents it from reopening. Active shooter insurance eliminates these gray areas.

Questions to ask

So, what questions should hospital management ask of insurance agents when selecting active shooter insurance?

  • What exactly does the policy cover?
    Make sure your active shooter insurance policy covers liability expenses, such as damages, monetary awards and settlements. Even with standard security measures in place, hospitals are still responsible for the safety of every person working and visiting, and can be sued successfully should a mass shooting take place.
  • How is an active shooter event defined within the policy?
    Does there need to be a certain amount of damage or a specific number of people affected to be considered an event? Some policies require a specific number of casualties (three or more, or under 50) for a claim to be made. Talk it through with your advisor to ensure you’re covered for all possibilities.
  • What crisis response services are provided?
    Make sure the policy includes coverage for victim counseling, a public relations consultant, extra security and, in some cases, funeral expenses. You want to make sure all victims are properly cared for.
  • When does the coverage kick in?
    Confirm any outside services are pre-contracted, clearly defined and spelled out in the policy. Crisis management and crisis response services should be available 24/7/365 and should begin immediately, without any delay.
  • Does the policy contain any terrorism exclusions?
    Because “terrorism” may be defined differently depending on the insurance provider, it’s best if the policy doesn’t contain any terrorism exclusions. Some may consider the act terrorism based on how many lives are taken, while others relate a terrorist act to religion or ideology. A policy without exclusions will ensure the event is covered no matter the circumstances.
  • How does the policy define a deadly weapon?
    Some policies define the term specifically (e.g., firearm, explosive device, knife, liquid acid, etc.), while others are broader (e.g., an instrument used to injure or kill a person). It’s smart to talk through any potential limitations so you know you’re covered adequately.

With the potential for out-of-pocket fees and settlements to reach millions of dollars, such as the $58 million sought by a victim’s family from the 2015 San Bernardino shooting at the Inland Regional Center, it’s extremely important for hospitals to protect themselves, their patients and their bottom lines.

Burns Parker is a VP of Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance Inc., an independent insurance agency and a subsidiary of Trustmark National, based in Birmingham, AL.



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