Do You Really Need Self Defense Insurance

Whether or not a gun owner needs self-defense insurance is a topic that’s being considered with increasing frequency. Gun owners need only take a look at the Kyle Rittenhouse case to realize how expensive and impactful a court case can become. After all, Rittenhouse was found “not guilty” of every charge, but his family still spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his defense.

Kyle Rittenhouse
You’ve probably heard of Kyle Rittenhouse. He probably wishes he’d had self-defense insurance. (Photo credit: USA Today)

Is self-defense insurance a good idea? The short answer to that question is yes, but we’re here to break it down for you in greater detail.

woman holding pistol at assailant with knife in self defense
You cannot choose the time or place of an attack. Your assailant will do that for you. (Photo credit: Ethan Allen Institute)

What is Self-Defense Insurance?

This is where the wording can get sticky. Technically, this isn’t self-defense insurance, it’s a form of carry and self-defense coverage. More importantly, a lot of states in the U.S. are having issues with lawsuits against coverage providers because the powers that be don’t like it being called insurance.

Kyle Caruth, Chad Read incident
The Kyle Carruth case, which involved Carruth shooting and killing Chad Read—the father of Carruth’s girlfriend’s kids—is a good example of how unpredictable charges can be when it comes to self-defense. (Photo credit: NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth)

Is it really insurance? That’s a matter of great debate and the answer is going to come down to personal wording and understanding of the many issues attached to the topic. For this article, we’re going to go ahead and call it self-defense insurance.

Self-defense insurance is designed to provide financial protection from the high cost of a legal defense for a self-defense incident. Attorneys’ fees, bail, and lost wages all have a negative impact on your financial stability. The idea of having coverage for those things is to protect you from a financial standpoint, and only from a financial standpoint. The point of self-defense insurance is not to do things like pay to replace your gun or repair your home if it was damaged during the incident. It’s largely meant to cover monetary aspects of your legal defense.

firearms siezed by law enforcement
Think you’ll magically get your gun back after a self-defense shooting? Guess again. This is something a lawyer can help you with. (Photo credit: Christian Science Monitor)

How Much Does Self-Defense Insurance Cover?

The exact numbers attached to how many fees self-defense insurance will cover depends on the plan you choose. Some plans have unlimited coverage for legal fees associated with your defense while others have a limit. In addition, certain plans cover everything from bail to attorneys’ fees to cleaning up the crime scene while others start at a basic level with the option of add-ons for more coverage.

Glock handgun with weapon mounted light and folding knife
Self-defense insurance generally covers the lawful use of any legal weapon. (Photo credit:

It’s also important to note that all coverage is not created equally. Lawyers are human, just like you and me, and that means they’ll have varying levels of skill and experience. Then there’s the company backing the coverage which might be established and trustworthy or could be new and untested.

image from FistFight movie - baseball bat carried as a weapon
Is a baseball bat considered a legal weapon? Ask your attorney…if you have one available for questions. (Photo credit: IMDb, FistFight movie)

What Self-Defense Insurance Should I Get?

Everyone’s needs are different. You might only be looking to cover self-defense incidents because that’s all you’re concerned with, or you might also be a hunter and want some coverage related to that. The top priority should be covering the attorney-related fees because that’s going to be the most expensive part. After that, look at coverage for things like bail and lost wages.

Ask around. Read unbiased reviews from neutral parties. Consider looking into the answers to the following questions:

  • Does the insurance plan limit how much of the attorney’s fees are covered?
  • Does the plan cover incidents related to domestic violence?
  • Will the company cover you no matter what or do they retain the right to refuse representation following their own evaluation of the case?
  • Does coverage have to be in place for a set amount of time before it becomes effective?
  • Is bail covered?
  • Are lost wages covered?
  • Will they cover any portion of crime scene cleanup?
  • Do they assign a lawyer to you, or do you choose your own? If you’re choosing one, do they offer a list of attorneys they recommend or leave it totally up to you?
  • Does coverage cover only the use of firearms or does it cover any lawfully wielded weapon?
  • What’s the monthly or annual fee? Are there hidden fees?
  • Does the company offer self-defense-related educational tools such as literature, videos, or lectures? If so, do they cost extra?
  • Are there tiers of membership, or is it a one-size-fits-all program?
  • Are some coverage items add-ons? How much do they cost?
  • Is it only for emergencies or is there a way for members to ask self-defense questions as needed?
  • Does coverage extend to the entire United States or only your home state? How about outside the continental U.S. or in other countries like Canada?

This gives you a basic idea of things to look into when selecting self-defense insurance. It’s also smart to consider other details, such as:

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Does the company, or its attorneys, have a proven track record?
  • Is the company highly recommended by experienced gun owners and/or subject matter experts?
  • How does the company cover the financial costs associated with providing a defense for self-defense scenarios? Do they have “endless” resources, or are they limited somehow?

Does Self-Defense Insurance Cover My Family?

As a general rule, self-defense insurance doesn’t cover anyone not named in the policy as a member. Also, unlike car insurance, self-defense insurance doesn’t cover a specific house or vehicle. It’s applied to the person. If you want coverage for family members you’ll be paying for plans for them, too.

Does Self-Defense Insurance Cover My Kids?

Kyle Rittenhouse patroling street during a riot with an AR-15
Kyle Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-15, patrolling the streets during a riot. (Photo credit: NBC News)

Whether or not it covers minors—meaning those under 18 years of age—depends on the plan. Generally speaking, minors will have to be added as members, but that isn’t always the case. This is something to look into when you’re choosing a plan.

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Self-Defense?

No, it does not. It’s a common misconception that if you have homeowner’s insurance it’ll extend to a self-defense shooting in that house. You’re on your own and must get a self-defense insurance policy in place to be covered.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost related to having self-defense insurance varies a lot by company. Do your homework and find out what the base cost of the policy is, and then find out if it’ll cost extra to have features you want to be included. Every company is different.

Do I Really, Really Need Self-Defense Insurance?

It’s a smart idea to have self-defense insurance in place. The costs of a legal defense can cost you everything and drive you into bankruptcy. A self-defense incident is stressful enough without adding financial ruin on top of it all. Your odds of being involved in a self-defense incident may not be sky high—the odds depend heavily on a variety of factors—but having coverage in place is a fantastic idea for peace of mind and financial security. You might assume you’ll be fine because if you ever had to fire your gun in self-defense, you’d be in the right…but it doesn’t work that way.

Taurus handgun with the slide back.
So you have a handgun. Do you know the laws related to its use? Do you have an attorney you can go to for legal advice? (Photo credit: Kat Ainsworth Stevens)

Our suggestion? Do your homework. Get coverage. Get whatever coverage fits your specific needs. Then keep the coverage current, because if it lapses, you’re going to be out of luck.

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