After a law in Kansas went into effect July 1 permitting teachers and custodians to carry concealed firearms in schools, an insurance company has refused to renew coverage for the state’s school districts, claiming the law creates a riskier environment.
According to USA Today, the Des Moines-based EMC Insurance Cos., which insures 80 to 90 percent of Kansas’ school districts, has refused to continue covering them.
“We’ve been writing school business for almost 40 years, and one of the underwriting guidelines we follow for schools is that any on-site armed security should be provided by uniformed, qualified law enforcement officers,” Mick Lovell, EMC’s vice president for business development, told USA Today. “Our guidelines have not recently changed.”
The company’s decision came after the legislation, which passed while the federal government was debating gun control in the aftermath of the Newtown Massacre, went into effect. The law allows gun owners with concealed carry permits to bring firearms into public buildings – including schools.
But the hesitancy felt by EMC Insurance to renew coverage with the school districts has also been felt among smaller insurers like Continental Western Group, another Des Moines-based company. According to the Kansas Association of School Boards’ insurance program, Continental Western Group has taken a stance similar to EMC’s in response to the new legislation.
Chief executive officer of the Independent Agents of Iowa, Bob Skow, told USA Today the companies’ decisions are not out of the ordinary, as insurance is based on risk.
CIt’s one thing to have a trained peace officer with a gun in school; it’s a completely different situation when you have a custodian or a teacher with a gun,” Skow said. “That changes the risk of insuring a school and magnifies it considerably.”
Republican state Sen. Forrest Knox felt differently about the new legislation, though. As chief advocate for the gun law, he believes legals guns in public buildings will be beneficial in preventing injuries.
“I’m not an insurance expert, but it’s hard for me to believe that if schools and other public buildings allow law-abiding citizens to carry that that increases risk — it’s news to me,” Knox told USA Today. “Law enforcement responds better (to school shootings now), but it still takes a few minutes, and a lot of damage can be done in a few minutes.”
Despite the legislation going into effect July 1, David Schriver, director of the Kansas School Board Association’s insurance program, told USA Today that up until July 6, school districts across Kansas had not yet implemented the policy allowing concealed carry on their campuses.
Tennessee and South Dakota have also enacted laws this year that allow teachers and school administrators to carry guns, as The New York Times reported.