Matt Gaetz Bill Would Protect Gun Owners from Insurance Discrimination

By: William Patrick FloridaWatchdog.org | Posted: February 24, 2014 3:55 AM
Gun Ownership

It’s illegal for property and auto insurance companies to discriminate against Floridians who lawfully exercise their constitutional right to own a firearm.

But if it did happen, there’s not a whole lot a gun owner could do about it.

Hiring an attorney, picking a fight with a powerful insurance company and hoping for the best is what Florida law allows. Many residents would be hard pressed to spare the time and money.

Even if they did go down that road, the law lacks enforcement authority because gun owners are not protected under Florida’s unfair insurance trade laws.

A new bill advancing through the Florida Legislature would change that.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, offers gun owners the same protections afforded to those who suffer more widely recognized discriminatory abuses.

If passed, gun owners would have a clear path to sue if they’re denied coverage or their premium rates are unfairly raised. Without legal recourse, only the state Office of Insurance Regulation can enforce penalties against insurers.

“The law that we have on the books only allows the government to stop an insurance company from discriminating against someone for exercising their constitutional right,” said Gaetz.

Critics say examples of insurance discrimination are too few and far between to warrant a change.

Marion Hammer, the first female president of the National Rifle Association and founder of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, is having none of it.

“Most insurance companies know that other insurance companies are discriminating,” Hammer told a Civil Justice Subcommittee last week.

“Why would they oppose a bill that says you can’t do something that (they) claim (they’re) not doing?” she asked.

According to OIR, a Florida insurance company is on record as having asked an applicant what kind of firearm they owned before they would issue a policy.

Gaetz cites other examples, including a Plantation man who was unable to renew his policy with Castle Key Insurance because it became known he possessed gun ammunition.

Insurance companies operating in Florida, like State Farm, have been known to discriminate against gun owners in other states.

Most notably, Citizens Insurance Clearinghouse, a state-backed property insurance company, asked applicants on its website whether they own guns. The question has since been scrapped.

Gaetz, son of state Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, also wants to keep property and auto insurance companies from sharing gun ownership information with outside groups.

“The passage of this bill will transfer power from the hands of the government to the people where they can actually have a remedy, whereas now they would be blocked on the courthouse steps,” he said.

Watchdog.org contacted Gaetz’s office for comment but didn’t receive an immediate response.

Contact William Patrick at wpatrick@watchdog.org or follow Florida Watchdog on Twitter at @watchdogfla

Tags: News, Politics

Comments (10)

John Paul Jones
7:49PM FEB 25TH 2014
If it were all about fairly assigning risk that would be fine. But its not and the progressives know that. The state mandates that low risk citizens subsidize all sorts of high risk folks. Yet not one progressive ever opens their mouth to complain about it. Its just more utopian redistribution of wealth. Firearms ownership does not create any additional risk. High risk people are more likely to suffer or cause a loss regardless of whether they have a firearm or a hammer or a car or a knife of dozens of other things that insurance companies never ask if you own. Oh, and firearms ownership is a Constitutionally protected right. The idea of insurance companies charging higher premiums for legal firearm ownership is just one more way for progressives to increase the burden on exercising that right and perhaps even gain a back door way to develop a de facto gun registry. Next the insurance commissioner would "require" insurance companies to collect gun ownership data that no government agency is authorized to collect. If you are progressive and you think guns are so risky, then by all means do not own one. And don't come to my house!
Tom Harvey
4:02PM FEB 24TH 2014
This bill will have the general public subsidizing the risks of gun owners. Insurers will water down everyone's insurance to cover these risks and no one will benefit.
8:57AM FEB 24TH 2014
The evidence is ovrwhelming. Guns in the home equal more accidental shootings and deaths. Insurance companies basic business is to assign risk and cost it appropiately.
What happened to let the market decide? Thought that was the key to all thing Republican.
Highr rates for guns and especially certain types of guns may serve as motivation for gun makers to make their weopons safer and more diffficult to use inappropiately.
Oh, that is right, the NRA, an organization that exists solely to fear monger and maximize gun sales while making its officers and management very, very wealthy has already succedded ininsulating gun makers and distributers from civil liability for the failure or misuse of their products.
Plus making it illegal for Federal funds to be used and recrds to be kept about gun misuse.
Fran k
9:55AM FEB 24TH 2014
Wow! True liberal speak!!!

Sure, allowing the government to control everything one does can certainly appear to make things safer but at the expense of one's freedom.

I for one do not want the government forcing me to do anything. There are many factors that go into these insurance rate determinations. I agree that if one has an accident with a gun at home, their insurance should be permitted to increase their rates. But I disagree that due to something that conflicts with our rights, they cannot impead that fact even if it puts them at increased risk.

We are either a free people or we are not.

Honestly! Liberals are PATHETIC!!!
11:49AM FEB 24TH 2014
And here we were convinced you were a true FREE MARKET advocate (i.e. no government interference). . . . I guess that's just another inconveniently exposed, hypocritical lie on your part . . . . once again, simply . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Fran k
9:12AM FEB 25TH 2014
Liberal idiotspeak!!!
1:44PM FEB 25TH 2014
Great . . . once again reinforcing that you really only know two words . . . all the rest, like your mentor . . . must be clearly ghostwriters . . . . after all, you've previously tried to make your SSN mark indulging in attempted plagiarism . . . . . glad I can get on your nerves . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
10:48AM FEB 24TH 2014
Why do facts in appropiate contex so offend many self styled conservatives?
Fran k
9:13AM FEB 25TH 2014
...more liberal idiotspeak!!!
1:46PM FEB 25TH 2014
A true one-trick SSN wunderkid . . . . well, at least childish . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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