Kansas Might Force Insurance Agencies to Cover Teachers Carrying Guns

The Kansas House Insurance Committee will have a hearing on a bill arming Kansas teachers on Tuesday March 27, 2018. This bill, HB 2789, does a lot of things, so we took the 28-page bill and broke it down and let you know which parts to pay attention to. The section requiring insurance companies to cover schools allowing employees to carry guns is such an important part of the story of arming teachers in Kansas, that we thought it deserved its own post.

Insurance Mandate

If HB 2789 or its Senate equivalent SB 434 passes, insurance companies will be prohibited from charging “unfair discriminatory premiums, policy fees or rates” or refusing to provide insurance coverage to a school district because that school district allows their employees to concealed carry guns on the premises. This means that insurance companies will be forced to absorb the extra costs associated with allowing teachers and other school staff to carry guns at school. Here’s the full text of Section 6:

New Sec. 6. (a) No insurance company shall charge unfair discriminatory premiums, policy fees or rates for, or refuse to provide, any policy or contract of real or personal property insurance, liability insurance or policy containing liability coverage for any unified school district solely because such school district authorizes employees of such school district to carry concealed handguns on the premises of schools and attendance centers operated by such school district, unless the rate differential, or refusal to provide, is based on sound actuarial principles or is related to actual or reasonably anticipated experience. No insurance company shall unfairly discriminate in the payments of dividends, other benefits payable under a policy, or in any of the terms and conditions of such policy or contract solely because the school district that is the owner of the policy or contract authorizes employees of such school district to carry concealed handguns on the premises of schools and attendance centers operated by such school district, unless the difference is based on sound actuarial principles or is related to actual or reasonably anticipated experience. (b) Enforcement of the provisions of this section shall be in accordance with article 24 of chapter 40 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, and amendments thereto.

The writers of this bill likely included this section in response to what happened in 2013, when Kansas first passed a law allowing teachers to carry guns at school. That 2013 law was part of a wave of legislation to arm teachers reacting to the Sandy Hook massacre that took the lives of 26 people, including 20 young children.

This current bill is a reaction to the February 14th shooting at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people were murdered with an AR-15. After lawmakers expressed their thoughts and prayers for the victims during the House session on February 22nd, Republicans announced that they would come up with a more “comprehensive school safety plan.”

In 2013, EMC Insurance, which covered 90% of Kansas schools, recognized the heightened liability risk of allowing guns at school and told their agents that they would no longer cover schools that allow their employees to concealed carry.
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The other two insurance carriers also stated that they would no longer cover schools allowing guns in 2013.

In part because of this potential loss of insurance coverage, Kansas school boards did not allow teachers to concealed carry guns at school. This is the only reason why we currently do not have teachers allowed to carry hidden, loaded handguns at our schools in Kansas. This bill would change that, forcing insurance companies to provide these schools with insurance.

The bill forbids “discriminatory” premiums, but it is unclear what exactly would be considered discriminatory. Because some Kansas lawmakers have attempted to pass bills to make carrying a gun a protected class, like race or religion, it is possible that this could be interpreted to mean that they can’t deny coverage or raise rates based on the presence of a gun period if they are successful in passing such a law.

Additionally, this bill will remove all personal injury and property damage liability from law enforcement officers for anything that they may do as a result of the requirements in the bill, and will require that their court costs and attorney fees be paid. Who will absorb that cost?

What you can do

This insurance mandate is just one of many problems with this bill. Please attend the hearing on HB 2789 on Tuesday at 8am in Room 281-N at the Kansas Statehouse and contact the House Insurance Committee.

Here’s the contact information for the Kansas House Insurance Committee:

Chair Rep. Jene Vickrey

Phone: 785-296-7748
Email: jene.vickrey@house.ks.gov

Vice-Chair Rep. Willie Dove

Phone: 785 296-7677
Email: willie.dove@house.ks.gov

Ranking Minority Leader Rep. Cindy Neighbor

Phone: 785 296-7690
Email: Cindy.Neighbor@house.ks.gov

Rep. Elizabeth Bishop

Phone: 785 296-5016
Email: Elizabeth.Bishop@house.ks.gov

Rep. Ken Corbet

Phone: 785 296-7679
Email: ken.corbet@house.ks.gov

Rep. Tom Cox

Phone: 785 296-7331
Email: Tom.Cox@house.ks.gov

Rep. Roger Elliott

Phone: 785 296-7476
Email: Roger.Elliott@house.ks.gov

Rep. John Eplee

Phone: 785 296-8621
Email: John.Eplee@house.ks.gov

Rep. Gail Finney

Phone: 785 296-7649
Email: gail.finney@house.ks.gov

Rep. Daniel Hawkins

Phone: 785 296-7631
Email: dan.hawkins@house.ks.gov

Rep. Tim Hodge

Phone: 785 296-2361
Email: Tim.Hodge@house.ks.gov

Rep. Jim Kelly

Phone: 785 296-6014
Email: jim.kelly@house.ks.gov

Rep. Boyd Orr

Phone: 785 296-7392
Email: Boyd.Orr@house.ks.gov

Rep. Brett Parker

Phone: 785 296-5413
Email: Brett.Parker@house.ks.gov

Rep. Randy Powell

Phone: 785-296-5593
Email: randy.powell@house.ks.gov

Rep. Adam Smith

Phone: 785 296-0715
Email: Adam.Smith@house.ks.gov

Rep. Frank Trimboli

Phone: 785-296-7654
Email: frank.trimboli@house.ks.gov

We’ll be posting more information about this bill and updates as we get them.