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Florida Lawmakers Would Stiffen Penalties On Insurers Discriminating Against Gun Owners

| February 5, 2014

Home-owner's insurance at the next table. (M. Glasgow)

Home-owner’s insurance at the next table. (M. Glasgow)

Insurance companies could face tougher penalties if they impose higher rates, refuse to issue or cancel auto or homeowner policies due to gun ownership, under a measure backed by a House committee Tuesday.

Florida law already prohibits such action, but Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said his proposal (HB 255) would provide a remedy other than with the state Office of Insurance Regulation by allowing a policyholder to sue if an insurer took such an action.

“It just gives greater access to courts,” Gaetz said. “It’s unlawful now, but the only entity that has the ability to enforce it right now is OIR.”

A staff analysis of the bill notes that “an issue with the current law is that it lacks specific authority to take action against any insurers which violate the proscribed behavior.”

Gaetz added that while such actions by insurers haven’t been seen in Florida, cases have been tracked in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

“In Florida that has not been a circumstance, but this is a prophylactic in the event that events we’ve seen in other parts of the country proliferate here,” Gaetz said.

Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, an insurance agent, cast the lone vote on the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee against the measure. He called the measure “unnecessary.”

“If an insurance company wants to exclude assault-type weapons, it seems to me that it is good to exclude if they desire to,” Rader said. “Certainly I know on animal exclusions they exclude Doberman pinschers and rottweilers.”

Gaetz said insurance companies wouldn’t be prohibited from asking potential policy holders about gun ownership, nor would they face state scrutiny if they lowered rates for a gun owner based on an actuarial determination that gun ownership reduced the risk of burglaries.

Insurers also wouldn’t be prohibited from charging a supplemental premium, as long as it’s not deemed unfairly discriminatory, to insure a firearm or firearm collection.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said the issue was raise due as Citizens Property Insurance Corp. had included a question in its new policy clearinghouse regarding gun ownership.

“The only reason for insurance companies to start asking you about what guns you want is so they can discriminate against gun owners,” Hammer said. “They have no right to ask those questions.”

A spokesman for Citizens said the question is no longer a part of the clearinghouse questionnaire.

The question was included in early testing of the site, as one of the four private companies currently set up to potentially receive new policies, United Property & Casualty Insurance Co., has been allowed by OIR since 2005 to consider firearms when underwriting policies.

Sandra Starnes, OIR director of property and casualty product review, said United is allowed to exclude homeowners if they are “in possession of dangerous firearms.”

Assault and rapid fire weapons could be classified as “dangerous,” but game hunting rifles and shot guns would be excluded from the prohibition, she said.

The measure must still get through the Civil Justice Subcommittee and Regulatory Affairs Committee.

The Senate companion (SB 424) has already been backed by the Banking and Insurance and the Criminal Justice committees, and has only to clear the Appropriations Committee before reaching the Senate floor.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “Florida Lawmakers Would Stiffen Penalties On Insurers Discriminating Against Gun Owners”

  1. american citizen says:

    What about cops who discriminate against gun owners? Can they be sued as well?

  2. Geezer says:

    Insurance companies have a little too much influence in our lives.
    Heck they have the police as enforcers for auto coverage.
    Boy I’d like to have people fined if they didn’t buy my product! …my overpriced product.
    What a racket.

    I’ll never side with an insurance company. NEVER.

  3. confidential says:

    The insurance companies are correct charging more to gun owners…look what some irresponsible or disturbed gun owners do! Same as home owners that have pit bulls (because some are trained to attack
    , rightfully they are refused insurance. Why should I pay with my insurance the outrageous losses inflicted by nutty gun owners like the Lanza’s and all the others?

  4. Really? says:


    really, cops enforcers of the auto insurance industry? yes you might get a ticket for not providing proof of insurance but can you honestly say that you wouldn’t care if you were the victim of a vehicle crash and when the bill collectors start knocking at your door because the other person didn’t have insurance and you have medical bills to pay? granted insurance premiums are overpriced but i think you will agree there has to be vehicle insurance in this example i stated.
    secondly, what about cops who were issued assault type weapons are they going to be discriminated against for having job related equipment?

  5. Really? says:

    please explain “cops who discriminate against gun owners”.

  6. says:

    insurance companies are in bed with the politicians at all levels

  7. says:

    before you know it idiots like Rader will ask if you have hunting knives in your house and exclude you for that

  8. confidential says:

    All cops are covered by the liabilities insurance of their law enforcement departments and as government agencies “they are funded by our taxpayers hard earned funds” and for sure pay high premiums for the use of their guns.
    The horrendous losses caused by nuts or criminals using their guns should be covered by higher premiums paid by those gun owners.
    Is the same that now with all this oil being transported by train or pipes or future Keystone pipe across our land from Canada and mainly to be refine for export, should require stiff monitoring and higher insurance premiums to the producer and the transportation companies whether rail or truck or pipes, because the latest is that when there is a spill the state aka tax payers, gets stuck with the clean up bill if there is a clean up and our homeowners insurance paying the house owners for the damage. What is up with that too?
    The oil producers should pay for that not us. They have all time high profits, while contaminating our land and homes, not us! I can’t believe that most don’t see this equation…when is everyone going to wake up. Aren’t we middle class and poor enough broke yet!

  9. Diana L. says:

    He can be assured that he will be getting extra money from the gun manufacturers when he introduces this bill. This has ALEC written all over it.

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