At one time, this would have been one of the best comparisons to be made. It would have been a true comparison between a real concealed carry insurance offering and a membership association that offers legal subscription services. There is a big difference between USCCA vs NRA Carry Guard and the comparison would have been interesting.
Unfortunately, the NRA’s Carry Guard program is no longer in business and does not offer insurance services.
Almost every other so-called concealed carry insurance is not insurance at all. These organizations offer subscription services that provide funds or services of certain types of legal representation. The legal services have caps and maximums depending on the level of membership you purchase.
USCCA vs NRA Carry Guard
NRA Carry Guard Program – Taking A Different Approach
The NRA entered the concealed carry legal marketplace in 2017 with a lot of commotion and media attention. The NRA chose not to follow the crowd.
Eschewing the subscription legal services model, the NRA opted to hire Lockton, one of the world’s largest and most respected insurance brokerages to manage the Carry Guard program.
The Chubb group underwrote the actual insurance coverage. Chubb is arguably the largest property and casualty insurer in the world. The combination of Chubb and Lockton gave the NRA program and air of legitimacy that was undeniable.
The Unraveling Begins
Membership organizations that sell legal subscription services are largely unregulated in the US. If the attorney in question is licensed in the state in which they practice, the actual organization sponsoring the subscription services faces little scrutiny or regulation.
On the other hand, selling insurance is highly regulated. Each state manages and enforces its spate of laws and regulations governing the insurance industry in the state. To sell insurance in any state, the insurance company must behave a license issued by the state board of insurance.
Lockton was, according to the NRA, administering the program. The NRA still maintains that Lockton was responsible for licenses and legal requirements in each state. Getting these licenses proved to be more of a challenge than either the NRA or Lockton anticipated.
Into the Courtroom, but not How the NRA Imagined It.
Shortly after the rollout and as soon as the NRA began issuing policies, several states began investigations into the program. Regulators in New York got an early start. They quickly found the NRA Carry Guard program to violate several New York regulations, one which prohibited any insurance carrier from offering defense coverage for criminal actions.
Lockton paid a $7 million fine to the State of New York and canceled all the policies issued in New York. These cancelations occurred in the fall of 2017, less than a year after the program kickoff. The NRA soon found itself embroiled in the same sort of legal wrangling in Washington state and California.
The Nail in the Coffin
After a mass shooting at a school in Florida early in 2018, Chubb notified the NRA that it would no longer underwrite the program. Shortly after, Lockton terminated its contract with the NRA. With no insurance carrier and no administrator, the NRA Carry Guard insurance program was effectively dead in the water.
Where it All Stands Now
The NRA Carry Guard program still exists on the NRA website. The whole program now centers on training with no mention anywhere of concealed carry insurance. The content on the NRA Carry Guard web pages remains thin. Many of the links don’t work or don’t have any meaningful content.
By all accounts, the NRA’s foray into the concealed carry insurance market became an expensive albatross that still hangs around the NRA neck. Some estimate that the Carry Guard program cost the NRA “tens of millions of dollars.”
The Comparison – USCCA vs NRA Carry Guard
We can do a bit of time travel and go back to the rollout of the NRA Carry Guard program and see what might have been possible had the t’s been crossed and the I’s been dotted. A quick comparison chart gives us a good overview of how the programs stack up.
|NRA Carry Guard Gold + Plan||USCCA – Elite Plan|
|Civil protection coverage||$1,500,000||$2,000,000|
|Upfront Payments||UP to 20% of the $250,000 criminal defense insurance||Upfront funding for defense costs and bail bonds|
|Hotline Access||2477 access||24/7 access|
|Spousal Coverage||Automatic||Discounts for Spousal coverage|
At the time, the NRA Carry Guard program was a viable player in the legal defense field. The coverages and benefits that the NRA offered were as good or better than most of the other organizations in the same business. The NRA branding didn’t hurt the marketing efforts either.
What Went Wrong – The Postmortem
By all estimations, the NRA Carry Guard concept was tremendous. Historically, the market response was more than favorable and the rapidity that the first policies were written and issued was phenomenal.
The NRA Carry Guard program looked like a sure winner for the NRA.
Too Much Too Fast
The speed with which the whole program was conceived and launched may have been the problem Lockton was and still is a dominant player in the insurance administration and brokerage business.
However, the range of laws, regulations, and requirements the encompass doing insurance business in the 48 continental United States presents some formidable obstacles.
Running the Obstacle Course
Lockton undoubtedly underestimated the difficulty of getting all the ducks in a row in all 50 states. The short time frame and the unanticipated problems created a perfect storm that ultimately sank the Carry Guard ship.
Had Lockton had more time, the problems would more than likely have been sorted out. Some states would have been outside the network just as they are with many of the organizations selling legal subscription services today.
Unfortunate Timing – When Circumstances Conspire Against You
Even with the problems, Lockton and the NRA might have weathered the legal storms and eventually sorted out the administrative and procedural side of things. Fate was not to give them a chance.
In February 2018, almost exactly a year after the Carry Guard program was debuted, the mass shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, occurred. Seventeen people were killed, and another seventeen were injured. The public hue and cry proved too much for both Lockton and Chubb
Soon after the shooting, Chubb notified the NRA that Chubb would no longer underwrite the insurance policies that the NRA was selling and would not renew the policies already issued. Shortly after that, Lockton decided to end its relationship with the NRA.
The Ultimate Cause of the Carry Guard Death
If blame must be laid for the death of the NRA Carry Guard program, it must lay with the NRA itself.
The NRA is an undeniable force in the politics of gun rights. The fund-raising arm of the NRA is unsurpassed. Their marketing efforts are well designed and executed. The NRA is incredibly good at what it does.
It is not, however, particularly good at planning and executing new enterprises. In a rush to bring the Carry Guard program to the market, the NRA cut corners and rushed the process. In its defense, the choice of their business partners cannot be faulted. The problem was instead of letting the experts do what they do well. The NRA rushed them. Lockton did not have time to do its due diligence.
Why USCCA Survived and the NRA Carry Guard Failed
Unlike the NRA Carry Guard program, USCCA chose the safer path. Structuring themselves as a membership organization that offers a wide range of benefits, including legal subscription services, USCCA has avoided many of the licensing and legal issues that ultimately brought the NRA Carry Guard Program to its knees.
USCCA has still been subject to its share of legal and political challenges, but it has weathered them successfully. The maelstrom of legal and political fires that were stirred by the NRA Carry Guard program proved too much for the fledgling organization, even with the deep pockets and muscle of the NRA.
What Would the Comparison Have Been? –
Were the NRA Carry Guard program still in business, the choice between the Carry Guard program and the USCCA organization would be a tossup. Given the difference in the organizational setup and the different approaches taken by each company, the comparison is difficult to make.
In truth, the size and marketing power of the NRA would be a tough combination against which any other company would need to compete. The arguments made for a true insurance-based system as opposed to a shared risk system offered by USCCA are also compelling.
I have a sneaking suspicion that had things transpired just slightly differently, the NRA Carry Guard program would have grown to dominate the concealed carry insurance market.
Unfortunately, We Will Never Know
Unless another organization or company comes forward with a similar concept, we will probably never know how the two different concepts in concealed carry legal protection compare.
I suspect that we won’t get that chance. The current landscape of regulations and rules spread across 50 different states may be too complex and too expensive. What was probably a great idea at the time may have withered on the vine never to sprout again.
All in all, I do recommend USCCA as one of the top contenders in the CCW insurance market. Make sure to check them out below: