Medical practice asset protection: Active shooter insurance

May 14, 2019
Ike Devji, JD

What you need to know about active shooter insurance for your medical practice

The increasing frequency of active shooters and workplace violence demonstrates the vital need to include active shooter insurance in your practice risk management strategy.

This partial list of events involving workplace violence and active shooters over just last few months illustrates the wide range of threats all American business owners, including medical practice owners and executives, must be prepared for.

  • North Carolina University shooter

  • Poway synagogue shooter 

  • San Francisco pedestrian vehicular assault 

  • Christchurch mosque shooter

  • Multiple foiled school shootings 

  • Domestic violence at dental office and at Hacienda healthcare 

Some of these cases involved an internal threat, most commonly related to either domestic violence, (which accounts for about 30 percent of workplace violence), disgruntled employees, or a disturbed patient for whom some perceived slight is a triggering event. In other cases, it’s been a random act, such as domestic terrorism or threats that have occurred in public and spilled into healthcare facilities. 

This unfortunate new reality requires multiple layers of defense that I have previously covered, including limiting exposures by having security measures in place as well as enforced internal policies on firearms, including what should be considered if practice owners or employees choose to carry. 

Who is at risk? 

Medical practice owners and administrators face increased risk as both legal and physical targets of active shooters and workplace violence. Other legally at-risk individuals include owners and executives of corporate entities with liability and employers of employees injured in a violent event.  

What are at-risk locations?

Think beyond your practice walls or property. Many physicians own unrelated commercial real estate like a hotel, apartment building, or retail shopping center. They may also sponsor public events like a health fair. All these need to be examined for the same security and insurance issues. 

What can be (but isn’t always) covered by active shooter insurance? 

• Physical damage - Including repair, relocation, and teardown

• Legal liability and litigation defense 

• Crisis management and public relations 

• Business interruption coverage 

• Medical, funeral, and death benefit liability

Watch for exclusions that can make a policy nearly WORTHLESS

Again, expert advice* on specific policy details is vital, and not just on the coverage limits. Make sure your policy doesn’t have any of the following exclusions that reduce or negate the value of the policy. 

  • Terrorism exclusion. We’ve all seen the news: Healthcare facilities are considered high-risk and common targets. 

  • Casualty threshold limits. These can require that a certain minimum number of people to be killed or injured or some other qualifying event to occur before the insurance coverage applies. 

  • Employee exclusion. The coverage may be limited or completely excluded if the bad actor is an owner or employee. 

  • Vehicle exclusion. If a vehicle is used as a weapon, instead of a firearm or etc., the coverage may not apply. 

  • Mental anguish exclusion. Any case involving a death, injury, or even the psychological effects of such an incident would likely result in mental distress. 

  • Domestic violence exclusion. Remember, 30 percent of all workplace violence are related to domestic violence. 

Why would someone buy a policy with such ridiculous exclusions? They wouldn’t, if they actually knew what they were buying or were well advised.  

Other security measures to consider

These fall into two primary groups designed to deter, detect, report, and react to various threats. First are active security measures like guards, metal detectors, and other mandatory electronic screening.  Second are passive security measures including:

  • Locked doors with limited and controlled pedestrian access;

  • Controlled vehicle access including active and passive barriers;

  • Various electronic access controls like key cards and biometric scanners;

  • Electronic monitoring systems like cameras;

  • Lighting, landscape, and architecture controls. 

There may be liability for practice owners failing to act in any of these areas, despite not having any current defined legal duty to do so. Please err on the side of caution. 

*Thanks to OH active shooter insurance expert, Paul Marshall with the McGowan Companies

Attorney Ike Devji has practiced in the areas of asset protection, risk management, and wealth preservation law exclusively for the last 15 years. He helps protect a national client base with over $5 billion in personal assets that includes several thousand physicians and is a contributing author to multiple books for physicians and a frequent medical conference speaker and CME presenter.