The FBI defines an active shooter as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” Per this definition, the bureau reported there were 27 active shootings across 16 states in 2018 that led to 85 fatalities and 128 injuries, excluding the shooters. The FBI’s data also determined that 10 of the 27 aforementioned active shootings met the parameters for the federal definition of a mass killing, or, “three or more killings in a single incident.”
The effects of these acts of violence are far-reaching and their implications serious for every person and place impacted, whether directly or indirectly. A deeper dive into the FBI's 2018 data reveals how the consistent stream of active shootings in the U.S. plays out in our public spaces, too—16 of the 27 incidents in 2018 occurred in areas of commerce, resulting in 41 killed and 61 wounded.
Based on this data, it’s clear that brands with any sort of retail footprint need to be prepared in the event of an active shooter on their premises. Doug Groves, president of leading franchise insurance monitoring company EZ CERT, said pointedly, “It’s clear this is a very real problem brands need to be prepared for, yet the existing insurance many have to protect themselves from these catastrophes is woefully lacking.”
Amid the tragedy of the unthinkable, the financial ramifications for the businesses, theaters, concert venues and other public spaces where these acts of violence occur understandably fall second to the central question: What recourse do brands have to help customers threatened by gun violence?
The answer to this question, Groves said, is one many brands haven’t spent adequate time pondering, which is why EZ CERT feels a particular duty to educate its partners on the subject.
As active shooter situations continue to occur on a consistent basis—on the weekend of Aug. 3 and Aug. 4, 22 people died in a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, while nine were killed at a dining and entertainment area in Dayton, Ohio—the insurance market has responded. The limitations of general liability and workers’ compensation coverage have produced active shooter coverage, an offering that has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, Groves noted. Standalone active shooter coverage, he explained, covers items outside of the parameters of general liability insurance such as emergency response team costs, crisis management in the form of counseling services and funeral expenses, property damage, business interruption expenses, and settlements.
“Active shooter coverage is no longer an option; it’s a risk-management necessity,” Groves said. “Companies may not be aware of the gaps in their existing coverage and there’s no telling how big some of these claims could be, which could prove extremely tough for a business of any size to withstand—even Walmart.”
As brands begin to explore active shooter insurance policy options, they must make it a point to thoroughly investigate how each policy option defines terrorism, deadly force, weaponry and the types of crisis management that are included in order to ensure they are receiving the protection they seek. A variety of different policies currently exist on the market with varying coverage limits and premiums, and many often require a security review and vulnerability assessment to identify and mitigate potential risk areas within a business.
“In our work with many franchise brands, we feel it’s our responsibility to bring awareness to this potential solution to a growing problem in our country,” Groves said. “Shedding light on the potential gaps in our partners’ existing coverage and providing them with the growing list of options available to them helps prepare businesses of all kinds for the unthinkable, with the hope they’ll never need to utilize the investment."