A bill introduced into the Florida House of Representatives aims to penalize property and auto insurance companies who refuse coverage or charge higher rates because an individual legally owns a gun.
Sponsored by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, the measure would allow individuals to directly sue insurance companies for discrimination.
The law makes it illegal to “charge an unfairly discriminatory rate in this state based on the lawful use, possession, or ownership of a firearm by the insurance applicant, insured, or a household member of the applicant or insured.”
“It just gives greater access to courts,” Gaetz told Jacksonville Daily Record.
Pro-gun groups believe the bill, HB255, addresses a Second Amendment violation.
“We would strongly oppose any effort by insurance companies to discriminate against the lawful exercise of a fundamental civil liberty protected by the Second Amendment. One can easily imagine the loud protest if carriers charged different premiums based on what you read or watched,” Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Guns.com in a statement.
“Discrimination is alive and well and is addressed in this bill,” National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer told Guns.com.
“It’s a very simple issue when insurance companies start questioning policy holders about firearms that they may or may not own,” Hammer said. “You can be sure that it’s for the purpose of some kind of screening that leads to discrimination.”
Insurance rates are determined by risk and based on industry experience.
Property insurance companies reserve the right to refuse coverage for safety factors like owning a dog breed the company considers dangerous. They charge higher rates for older, non-updated buildings. They often make safety stipulations, like putting at least one railing on steps of a certain height or repairing a dilapidated sidewalk. If the company’s demands are not met, the policy can be cancelled.
Because insurance companies are private corporations, measures like HB255 have been largely unsuccessful and can lead to companies pulling out of states entirely.