With careful consideration, insureds can implement security measures that best meet their needs and facilitate the right insurance coverage.
An organization needs to be confident that its security team has the training and experience to respond appropriately and handle weapons safely.
As organizations resume normal operations post-pandemic — with more people in their facilities and on their property — many are re-evaluating and updating their safety program.
It follows that your insurance customers may be considering whether to introduce or continue using armed security as part of their overall safety strategy. It’s a complex question, particularly when you add in policies around concealed carry.
Now is a good time to have conversations with customers about the type of security that best meets their needs and the implications for their insurance coverage. Here are a few key areas to cover in those conversations.
Armed security and liability
It is important for policyholders to understand the risks that can come with the use of a volunteer armed security team. When an organization asks or allows individuals to carry weapons on its behalf, much of the responsibility and liability for those individuals’ actions transfer to the organization.
That’s why it is strongly recommended that policyholders use off-duty law enforcement officers or a contracted security service. Only highly trained individuals, with a military or law enforcement background, for example, should be allowed to carry weapons as part of a formalized security team. In high-stress situations, an organization needs to be confident that its security team has the training and experience to respond appropriately and handle weapons safely. An armed security team of untrained volunteers often lacks this level of preparation and experience, creating an additional layer of potential risk.
Impact on coverage
Insurers may exclude coverage for a volunteer armed security team, as it creates an additional exposure that may not be contemplated in an organization’s policy. Insureds that have begun using volunteers for armed security or are considering doing so need to meet with their insurer to review all security policies and procedures and determine acceptability. If the organization does not meet best practices, an exclusion may be added. Organizations with an armed security team must be sure they have addressed this additional exposure with their insurer before an event takes place.
It is an organization’s choice to either allow or prohibit weapons on its property. It is imperative, however, that the organization and individuals carrying weapons comply with local and state laws. Organizations also need to document their decision about concealed carry in the form of policies, procedures and/or signage.
Candidly, this is the best practice for concealed carry in terms of an organization’s level of liability and responsibility: Only members of a formalized armed security team should carry weapons on behalf of the organization or while serving the organization.
If the organization chooses to allow concealed carry, those individuals should be carrying on their own behalf and in the interest of self-defense, bearing responsibility for their own actions. However, it’s important to note that if an organization allows a concealed carry holder to serve in a non-security-related function, the organization may still be liable.
At Church Mutual®, we recommend that an organization choose not to allow concealed carry on its property if the organization has an armed security team (volunteer or otherwise). If an event should occur, having an armed security team as well as other armed parties may cause confusion and unintended safety risks.
Implementing several best practices in the planning and onboarding stages of a volunteer armed security team can help an organization develop an acceptable exposure — and potentially improve insurance pricing. Examples include:
- Establish clear policies/procedures and formalize a written security plan.
- Require all security team members to be over the age of 21.
- Conduct mandatory background checks on all security team members.
- Provide comprehensive training for all security team members (in addition to any previous training provided by other organizations).
- Share response plans with local law enforcement to create awareness of the armed security team and allow for better coordination and training opportunities.
For anyone working through the complexities of armed security, Church Mutual offers free resources on the website. We provide a summary of armed vs. unarmed security considerations, insights on the 10 essentials of a security plan, a security assessment for organizations, and many other relevant documents.
With careful consideration and collaboration, organizations can implement the security measures that best meet their needs and facilitate the right insurance coverage.