Law & the Courts

NRA Pays $2.5M Fine, Suspends N.Y. Insurance Sales

National Rifle Association merchandise at the Iowa straw poll in Ames, Iowa, in 2011. (Daniel Acker/Reuters)

The National Rifle Association has agreed to suspend its insurance business in New York State for five years and pay a $2.5 million fine over charges that it offered insurance to members without a license and hid how it kept some premiums for its own benefit.

The settlement, announced by the state’s department of financial services on Wednesday, resolved charges over the NRA’s business with insurance broker Lockton Cos, which sold over 28,000 NRA-endorsed policies to New Yorkers. One of the plans offered was the “Carry Guard” program, which State Insurance Superintendent Linda Lacewell said illegally offered coverage to help with criminal defense expenses and the “intentional” use of firearms should they shoot their weapons. 

“The NRA operated as an unlicensed insurance producer and broke the New York Insurance Law by soliciting insurance products and receiving compensation,” Lacewell said.

“Even worse, the NRA violated the New York Insurance Law by soliciting dangerous and impermissible insurance products, including those within its Carry Guard program that purported to insure intentional acts and criminal defense costs,” she added.

The NRA allegedly received over $1.8 million in associated royalties and fees through its insurance offers. Lacewell accused the organization of misleading gun collectors, dealers, instructors, clubs and shows by promising coverage at the “lowest possible cost” while ultimately keeping between 13.67 percent and 21.92 percent of premiums paid. 

The NRA defended itself in saying it did not underwrite its insurance programs and it had depended upon industry experts to market products to members. The NRA did not admit to any wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. 

News of the settlement comes just over three months after state attorney general Letitia James sued to dissolve the NRA, claiming it had been plagued by widespread corruption. James’ initial suit said the NRA violated state law governing nonprofit organizations, in diverting millions of dollars away from its charitable mission. She said the group and its top officials oversaw “a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight.”

The settlement marks an end to the latest in a series of battles between the NRA and New York state officials, including a 2018 lawsuit in which the organization accused Governor Andrew Cuomo of attempted “blacklisting” for pushing banks and insurers to send business elsewhere.

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