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A sad new workplace reality -- 'active shooter' insurance

Sadly, workplace shootings have dominated the news again in recent weeks. In November, a man opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, killing three people. Then we had the workplace massacre in Southern California.

The possibility of someone opening fire in a workplace has prompted a new type of insurance policy: "active shooter insurance." One large insurance broker originally marketed the insurance to colleges and universities, which have seen their own share of shootings. However, the company says that it has begun getting inquiries about the policies from hospitals, hotels and other types of businesses.

While these shootings often attract significant media attention, they still account for a small number of workplace injuries and deaths. In fact, the number of homicides in the workplace has dropped during the past five years. According to the AFL-CIO union, there were 773 such deaths in 2013.

Workers' compensation insurance covers people who are shot while working whether the company is found liable for the shooting or not. An active shooter policy will cover a company or institution if it is held liable. For example, they may be found to have had inadequate security in place to help prevent violence. The policies also cover other costs resulting from a workplace attack such as counseling and "on the scene" expenses.

While these policies are still very new, if shootings like the ones we've seen too often this year continue, more businesses and institutions may find it worthwhile to invest in active shooter insurance rather than risk facing potentially substantial expenses above and beyond medical care for impacted employees. Any employee who has been a victim of workplace violence, even if their scars are emotional rather than physical, should investigate all of their options for collecting workers' compensation and other insurance benefits.

Source: Fortune, "Mass Shootings Convince Companies to Explore 'Active Shooter' Insurance," Stephen Gandel, Dec. 03, 2015

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