USCCA Sued in Federal Court: Refused to Cover Platinum Member?

NOTE: IMPORTANT UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST!

A few caveats before I get to the meat of this topic.

First, we’re currently only hearing one side of this story, and that’s the side of the party suing USCCA (actually, they’re suing parent company Delta Defense, but given the nature of the relationship between the companies and the greater brand awareness of USCCA, I’ll refer to the defending party as USCCA for purposes of simplicity). 

It’s quite possible that USCCA has a perfectly valid explanation that explains away what certainly appears to be a bad situation.  I’ve reached out to them directly, and hope to hear from them soon.  Once I do, I’ll promptly share their comment here on the blog, and update this post with a link to that comment.

Second, in the interests of full disclosure:  I’ve previously been professionally partnered with USCCA, and that partnering did not work out well from my personal perspective.  Ultimately, I resigned from their Legal Advisory Board, on which I had been a founding member, and ceased engaging in partnering actives with USCCA. Indeed, I am currently partnered with one of their leading competitors, CCW Safe.

That said, since resigning from the USCCA Legal Advisory Board I have more than once consulted on self-defense cases involving their members, and have been promptly compensated by USCCA for those legal services.  My professional experience doing those legal consults for USCCA was excellent.  In those cases, to my knowledge USCCA met every obligation, promptly and without hesitation.

Further, even after my split from USCCA’s Legal Advisory Board I have nevertheless consistently recommended USCCA as one of the “self-defense insurance” companies that folks interested in such coverage ought to consider.  In short, despite my own personal differences with the company, I still considered them to be a sufficiently viable competitor in the “self-defense insurance” market that they were worthy of consideration by my clients and others.  (USCCA also continues to sell a licensed copy of my book, “The Law of Self Defense,” by permission.)

With that out of the way, the focus of this blog post is on a Federal lawsuit just filed against USCCA for an alleged failure to meet their obligations to one Kayla Giles, who claims to be a USCCA Elite member [note that Giles’ Federal complaint identifies her as a “Platinum member; the level of coverage sought by Giles, however, appears more consistent with her being an Elite member.  The distinction, however, is unimportant to the relevant issues in this case]. 

This was first brought to my attention when I was sent a news story on the lawsuit, “Kayla Giles files lawsuit over halted payments on self-defense policy.”  Most of you know what I think of “journalism” (not much), so I don’t really consider that news story much of foundation for any kind of substantive understanding of the situation.

We also, however, have access to the actual complaint filed int he US District Court in Lousiana.  I’ve embedded that complaint at the bottom of this post.  It’s important to not that the complaint is very much still only one side of the story.  That said, it’s unlikely to be an utter fabrication without basis in fact, because of the rather severe sanctions a lawyer is subject to for filing a genuinely frivolous complaint in Federal court—specifically, a fine of up to $25,000 under 26 U.S.C. § 6673(a)(1).  That’s on top of state bar sanctions for frivolous practice of law.

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, because frivolous suits do still occur, but it suggests that it’s unlikely that the lawsuit is entirely without foundation (e.g., unlikely that Giles is lying outright about being a USCCA member). 

The essential factual claim of the complaint are that Kayla Giles, who shot and killed her estranged husband in claimed self-defense, was a paid-up USCCA Elite member at the time of that event.  She was charged with second-degree murder for the killing of her husband, raised the legal defense of self-defense, and turned to USCCA for payment of her legal expenses under the terms of her Elite membership.

As an Elite member, she claims the right to legal compensation for criminal defense costs up to $150,000.   Giles claims that although USCCA paid the first $50,000 of legal expenses, “they have thereafter refused further payment, despite amicable demand that they do so.”  As a result, she’s now suing for the $100,000 remainder.

I’ll take a moment to pause here and point out that the complaint also notes: 

Kayla J. Giles has incurred fees and expenses in excess of the amount of the ‘criminal defense’ limits of the policy.

Why am I pointing that out?  Because the criminal defense limit of the policy is $150,000, and Giles has apparently already exceeded $150,000 in criminal defense legal expenses.

AND THAT’S BEFORE EVEN GETTING TO TRIAL.  Her trial on charges of second-degree murder doesn’t begin until May 2020, more than six months from now.

That means the maximum coverage provided to her by USCCA as a Elite member isn’t even enough to get her within 6 MONTHS of her trial, much less cover the trial itself. 

Those of you who have been around the Law of Self Defense community for a while will know that this is a point I hit on all the time, good and hard—if you’re charged in a killing case, meaning murder or manslaughter, your legal defense will easily run deep into the mid-six figures, and perhaps much higher. 

One of the reasons I’m currently partnered with legal service coverage provider CCW Safe (again, a competitor to USCCA) is that they place no cap whatever on the legal expenses they will cover for a legal defense of self-defense—including no cap on any appeals of a conviction in such a case. 

If you’re considering two vehicles to take you on a 100-mile journey, and one of them guarantees you all the gas you need to complete the trip, and the other one only guarantees you a fraction of the fuel you’ll need—which one do you pick, all other factors being equal?

As mentioned in the promo at the start of this blog post, those of you interested in learning more about the “no limits” coverage of CCW Safe can do so by pointing your browser to:

http://lawofselfdefense.com/ccwsafe

Even better, if you decide that CCW Safe is the right fit for you, you can save 10% on your CCW Safe membership by using the discount code LOSD at checkout when you sign up.

OK, back to the Giles lawsuit.

As previously noted, we’re currently hearing only one side of the story, and I look forward to receiving USCCA’s response to my outreach to them, which again I’ll share here on this blog.

That said, it’s hard to imagine what the explanation for these claims would be, at least explanations that would be consistent with a “self-defense insurance” offering that I could recommend to clients and members of the Law of Self Defense community.

Was Giles not actually an Elite member? Was she never actually signed up, or had she failed to meet her payment obligations and defaulted on her membership? If so, that’s a perfectly valid reason to not cover her legal expenses.  But if that were the case, why cover the first $50,000 at all, as Giles claims they did?

Has Giles conceded criminal guilt in the shooting, meaning pleading guilty to the second-degree murder charge or pleading out to some lesser charge?  That would also be a perfectly valid reason to not continue covering her legal expenses. But if that were the case, Giles would not have a trial date set for May 2020.  A person who has already pleaded guilty does not need a trial date.

Was Giles in violation of some other facet of the USCCA terms of coverage when she used her gun in self-defense?  I’m not going to step through the USCCA contractual language in this blog post, so perhaps that’s what has triggered USCCA’s claimed refusal to continue covering her legal expenses.  If so, I would expect USCCA to announce that reason publicly.

Why would they announce an explanation under these circumstances? 

Because if they don’t explain what’s going on in a manner consistent with being a “self-defense insurance” provider on whom members can rely for coverage of the legal expenses, they run the risk of being perceived as a provider upon whom members cannot rely.

And an unreliable “self-defense insurance” provider is unlikely to be a viable business model.

I want to make explicit that I’m not talking about whether USCCA is actually unreliable in this regard—we don’t yet have the facts to make any such assessment with any confidence, at least not until USCCA has had a reasonable opportunity to tell their side of the story. 

Rather, I’m merely talking about market perception of USCCA’s reliability in this regard.

The complaint by Giles, which is again embedded below, was filed on October 2, 2019, a full three weeks ago, which ought to have been plenty of time for USCCA to formulate a confidence-inspiring explanation of their side of the story. 

A review moments ago of their “USCCA Press Room” web page, however, reveals that their last post there was on October 3, 2019, the day after the complaint was filed. 

That this was the date of their last post there might be a coincidence—it appears they only posted on that page every month or so.  It would seem that if they intended to provide a public response to the Giles lawsuit, however, that they would have done so by now, and done so on their “Press Room” web page.

One possibility that comes to mind is that USCCA chosen to adopt (perhaps without formal notice?) a policy of “we’ll cover members’ self-defense legal expenses … but only if WE think it looks like self-defense.  If, on the other hand, WE think it looks like not self-defense, we’ll decline to cover.”

Now, in one sense, there’s nothing whatever wrong with this business model for a “self-defense insurance” provider.  Indeed, one of the most respected providers of such services, the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, takes precisely that approach.  When an ACLDN member is in a use-of-force event and seeks access to the ACLDN legal defense fund, their request is first reviewed by the ACLDN Board.  If it looks like lawful self-defense to them, access to the legal funds is granted. If it does not look like lawful self-defense to the Board, however, ACLDN reserves the right to deny access to those legal funds.

There are two characteristics of the ACLDN approach, however, that make such an approach by ACLDN viable:

First, they tell you that any request for legal funds is subject to ACLDN Board approval before you ever become a member. Therefore you’re aware that Board approval is required for coverage of any particular use-of-force event, and also aware that such coverage may be denied, at the Board’s discretion.  In other words, the contingency is made clear up front, rather than used to ambush a member after the fact.

Second, the ACLDN Board is unquestionably a genuinely remarkable people who are unusually well-qualified to make such an assessment.  The current ACLDN web site lists their board members as including:

  • Massad Ayoob
  • John Farnam
  • Tom Givens
  • Dennis Tueller
  • and others whom ACLDN presumably considers similarly qualified. Yes, THAT Ayoob, THAT Farnam, THAT Givens, and THAT Tueller.

I can imagine USCCA reasonably adopting a similar “Board-approval required for benefits” approach, but ONLY if they met similar conditions.  That is, first, that this condition of coverage was explicit—“we’ll cover you if WE think it was self-defense” and, second, if they had a similarly capable Board making that decision.

To my knowledge, neither of those conditions are true of USCCA.

Absent prior notification of a “benefits only if it looks like self-defense to US” condition of benefits, and a Board qualified to make such an assessment, any “self-defense insurance” provider who imposes such conditions after that fact must be considered unfit for it stated purpose. 

After all, in EVERY case of self-defense in which legal expenses are being incurred at all there are TWO sides to the self-defense story. ALWAYS.  The defendant is making a claim of self-defense. The prosecution is claiming they can overcome self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  The issue is in dispute. If it weren’t in dispute, there wouldn’t be criminal charges, and there would be no legal expenses to be covered.

So, ANY time a “self-defense insurance” provider is being asked to cover a member making a  claim for self-defense insurance costs it means that it is not 100% certain that the use-of-force was actually, legally, self-defense.  ANY time a request for coverage is made there is some greater than 0% chance that the use of force was NOT self-defense.  The question then becomes: WHO DECIDES?

Under our procedures of criminal justice, legally speaking it is a JURY that makes the ultimate call on whether the use-of-force was lawful self-defense or criminal conduct. Until the JURY has made that decision, we just don’t know, in any legally meaningful sense, whether it was self-defense or not. 

The jury, of course, is responding to the competing arguments being made by the defense and the prosecution—the legal battle that’s being waged in the courtroom.  Indeed, that is ALL the allowed to consider in arriving at a verdict—the legal arguments and evidence presented to them in the courtroom.

The whole point of having “self-defense insurance” in the first place is to enable the defendant, the person who claims to have acted in self-defense but who is being put to the legal test by the state, to have the resources necessary to wage their side of the legal battle effectively.  As already noted, if faced with a killing charge the legal defense costs can easily soar into the mid-six figures, and perhaps much higher.  The state prosecutors have essentially unlimited resources to bring to the fight, and unless the defense can match those they are likely to be overwhelmed.

 Most of us don’t have a paper bag with half-a-million dollars in it sitting around in case we have to defend ourselves against a criminal attack and find ourselves charged with murder.  That’s precisely why legal service coverage providers like USCCA, CCW Safe, ACLDN and others exist in the first place—to provide those legal defense resources to their members when needed.

If, however, the “self-defense insurance” provider you’ve spent years paying reserves to right to DECLINE to cover you, at THEIR discretion, in the ABSENCE of any apparent qualifications to make such an assessment, and even worse WITHOUT prior notice to their members that they intend reserve the option to apply this condition, ambush-style— well, then what the heck have you been paying for all those years?

I feel again obliged to point out that I’m speaking here in the hypothetical—we don’t know whether any of the above accurately describes the conduct of USCCA in this case, because we’ve only heard one side of the Giles story.  We don’t know if USCCA has, in fact, denied benefits to Giles, we don’t know, in fact, whether Giles was entitled to benefits in the first place, we don’t know if USCCA might have some other explanation for what’s going on.   So none of the above is intended to characterize USCCA—we just don’t know.

I’m merely saying that any “self-defense insurance” provider that’s going to retroactively impose a “we’ll cover you if WE think it’s self-defense” condition on benefits, without prior notice, and in the absence of any apparent qualifications to make such an assessment, is not a provider that I would be comfortable recommending to clients, friends, family, or anyone in the Law of Self Defense community.

I’ll keep my eyes open for further developments on this story, and particularly for any response from USCCA, either generally or directly in response to my request for comment.  If anything new develops, I’ll comment on it separately, and particularly if USCCA provides a substantive response, I’ll add a link in this post to that response.

UPDATE: You may also be interested in our follow-up post, Self-defense, or not? Who decides?

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This Law of Self Defense LEVEL 1 Core Class is our most comprehensive course on self-defense law, excepting our Instructor Program, with all the legalese translated into plain English, enabling you to make better informed, more confident, and more decisive decisions in defense of yourself, your family, and your property.

This course normally sells for $199.99, but as part of this package, we’ve priced it at $76.20, a 62% discount.

While the Law of Self Defense LEVEL 1 Core Class is comprehensive, it is not state-specific.  To provide state-specific details we complement it with our 50 Law of Self Defense State-specific Supplement Classes.  Each of these is a ~2 hour class on  state-specific statutes, jury instructions, and court decisions, all presented using the same framework as the LEVEL 1 Core Class. We have a separate one of these for each of the 50 states, and you get to choose which you want.

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COMING SOON! EXCITING NEW LAW OF SELF DEFENSE SHOW!

Finally, I’d like to give the Law of Self Defense Community a heads-up on a brand-new Law of Self Defense show we’ll be launching within the next few days.

This new show will consist of plain-English legal analysis of use-of-force events captured on surveillance video.  Best of all, we’ll be doing the show on Facebook LIVE on our Law of Self Defense Facebook page:

http://facebook.com/lawofselfdefense

… so be sure to follow us on Facebook, and then we’ll also sharing the recorded video of each show on our Law of Self Defense blog

During the LIVE airing of each show those of you on Facebook will be able to participate directly by commenting, asking questions, and—maybe best of all!—winning free prizes such as autographed copies of my book, free access to our Law of Self Defense classes, and more!

We’re still ironing out the last of the technical details on show execution as I write this—for example, if the audio doesn’t sound great it’s because I’m waiting for my new microphone to arrive tomorrow—but I expect that by next week we’ll start doing the actual shows live.

Right now, I’m contemplating doing the show LIVE twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Noon my time, meaning Mountain time.  We’ll leave the recording of that live show up on the Law of Self Defense Facebook page for a day or two, and then maintain a recording of the show on our own Law of Self Defense blog thereafter. 

By the way, we’re currently still shuffling through names for this new show, so we’re interested in any suggestions we can get from the Law of Self Defense community. Personally, I’m currently leaning towards a simple “LOSD FORCE ANALYSIS” show name, but creative show name creation is not my particular area of expertise, and I’m sure many of you can do better.

So, hit me with those show name suggestions, and if we choose yours (and you’re the first person to have suggested it), I’ll send you a personalized autographed copy of the hard-copy version of our best-selling book, “The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition”!

Also, if you have any suggestions for use-of-force videos you’d like me to consider for a future show, I encourage you to send those to me at the email address below.  If we choose to use a video you’ve suggested in a show, we’ll send you a nice prize in appreciation!  You can email links to such videos to:

support@lawofselfdefense.com

Do please put “VIDEO” in the subject line so that those emails can be expedited to my attention.

Remember:

You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.

Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

—Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
Law of Self Defense CONSULT Program

UPDATE: I just received a reply to my inquiry to USCCA about this matter, from Brian Walsh, who is listed on the USCCA press page as their media contact:

“As I’m sure you can appreciate though the USCCA isn’t in a position to comment on ongoing litigation. Will keep you posted if that changes though. Thanks.” –BW

There is, of course, no law against USCCA commenting on a matter in litigation. Generally the defendant to a lawsuit doesn’t want to comment if the truthful comments that they could make would not be helpful to them.

“We deny all allegations of having failed to meet our legal obligations to this member, and will demonstrate so at trial” would be a perfectly fine response, if USCCA wished to make such a response.

My commentary above was explicitly caveated on the fact that we’d only heard one side of the story. USCCA has now been given the opportunity to present their side, and has declined. As reasonable consumers, therefore, and in my case, advisors, one can only rely upon the evidence presented–and the evidence presented is not favorable to USCCA.

Until USCCA has reasonably explained away the accusations of failure to meet their legal obligations to a member that have been made against them in Federal Court, I’m obliged to withdraw all prior recommendations to the Law of Self Defense community to consider them as a viable “self-defense insurance” option.

This will remain the case even if Kayla Giles should ultimately be found guilty of murdering her estranged husband, for two reasons.

First, it couldn’t be known at the time the benefits were denied that this would be the legal outcome. If USCCA intended to be a “reimbursement program IF you’re acquitted” like the defunct NRA Carry Guard program, they had an obligation to inform the public of that fact.

Second, if Kiles is convicted maybe she’ll have been convicted in large part BECAUSE she was denied her member benefits by USCCA, and therefore lacked the resources to mount an effective defense–precisely the resources USCCA was supposed to have provided her as a member. If that occurs, one might argue that they are themselves culpable in the conviction of one of their members of murder.

Again, if there were a reasonable basis for USCCA not providing Giles with the legal resources a member is entitled to–for example, “Hey, she’s not a member, she stopped making payments a year before the shooting!”–there’s nothing to prevent USCCA from saying so.

Instead, we–and by extension every current and prospective USCCA member–just got a big “NO COMMENT.”

If you want to pay your money into THAT, it’s a free country. Personally, I expect more from my “self-defense insurance” provider.

As promised, here’s the civil complaint filed by Giles against USCCA in Federal District Court in Louisiana:

56 thoughts on “USCCA Sued in Federal Court: Refused to Cover Platinum Member?”

  1. Excellent post Andrew.

    I got my “self-defense insurance” through CCW Safe about a year ago. I’ve been carrying concealed for 35 years and have had concealed carry permits in multiple states. This is my first “insurance” policy and it’s the best money I spend every month. I found them when I did a search for policies after taking some tactical training classes at my range. For our family and our situation CCW Safe is easily the best choice. One of the deciding factors vs. USCCA was the limits on their policies.

    A final note, I found you through CCW Safe. I have learned more about self-defense law in the last few months from you than in my previous 35 years. I’ve also been able to advise a number of my friends and acquaintances on self-defense issues with specific references to things you’ve said. I always recommend you and CCW Safe, you are an important addition to any family’s gun safe.

    Thank you for all you do and for what you’ve done for our family.

    1. Andrew, thank you for your analysis of this. Very in-depth and interesting! But for me, I do think some of the information you gave maybe a little misleading or confusing. In your analogy all factors being equal why not choose the best option? But all factors are not equal. The story states she was married and so even if she WERE a CCW Safe member, she would never have been covered for this incident at all as this was a domestic violence situation. Whether she is right or wrong, or the USCCA is right or wrong, CCW Safe’s policy seems clear in the terms and conditions on their website:

      “Restrictions, Limitations, Notices and Exclusions:
      DOMESTIC RELATIONSHIPS: CCW Safe will not provide the services for any domestic violence incident, criminal investigation, or prosecution arising from a use of force incident involving you and a current or former member of the household, including, but not limited to, a spouse, former spouse, adult or minor child, or involving those in a current or former dating relationship as defined in applicable state law.”

      Or I guess I could be reading that wrong?

      1. Attorney Andrew Branca

        I already addressed this elsewhere in this comment thread, but I’ll repeat my response here for purposes of convenience:
        _______________________________
        That may be true that CCW Safe would not have covered Giles because the Giles shooting was in the context of a domestic event, but then Giles would have been informed of that restriction BEFORE she joined CCW Safe, and either accepted the condition or looked elsewhere for coverage.
        Providers can make any conditions or exclusions they wish, and hold members to those conditions and exclusions, so long as the conditions or exclusions are disclosed up-front–as CCW Safe does in this context. Nobody can complain about conditions or exclusions of which they were informed at the time they joined, those are part of the contractual bargain.
        If USCCA has a similar restriction in their membership agreement, they would be similarly entitled to withhold coverage in the case of Giles. I’ve read their membership agreement, however, and have never found such a restriction. Further, if it’s true that they paid the first $50,000 in benefits, they did so fully aware that the shooting occurred in the context of a domestic dispute, and yet didn’t deny that first $50k.
        It’s a matter of promises being kept, or not. If I’m told that you’ll cover me unless I do X, and then I do X, I should reasonably expect to not be covered–I accepted that as part of the bargain, and you informed me up-front. On the other hand if you tell me you’ll cover me, and never mention X is an exclusion, and then when I need the benefits I discover you’re applying the X exclusion retroactively, without prior notice, ambush-style–well, that’s simply a breach of contract.
        Any organization that pulls a Darth Vader-style “I am alerting the deal. Pray that I don’t alter it any further” retroactive change to a contractual agreement is not an organization I would make use of myself, not one I would recommend to others.
        –Andrew
        Attorney Andrew F. Branca
        Law of Self Defense LLC

    2. My jaw hit the floor when I read the withdrawal of your endorsement of USCCA. That could not have been an easy conclusion. I have been a long term member of CCW Safe and I am so comfortable with the service they provide. I read in one post that someone was concerned that organizations like CCW Safe may not be funded adequately enough to cover a very expensive defense. I asked Stan Campbell that very question and while that was over 5 years ago, I suspect that they have much the same multifaceted approach to ensuring there are more than enough reserves to cover any type of defense they may have to fund.

      I have to renew after the 1st of November and I’ll be sure to renew through LOSD. Love your LOSD book too. I HIGHLY recommend everyone get the book.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    I always appreciate your insightful analyses. You’ve mentioned in the past that prosecutors only tend to press cases they anticipate they can win. Do you think simply having the resources of a “self defense insurance policy” at your disposal might dissuade a prosecutor from pressing charges against you, simply because they’re less confident they can win the case against a well-funded defense (versus someone in the same situation who might have limited funds and/or a public defender, for example)? I apologize if this has been asked before and I missed your response.
    Thanks,
    Steve

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      I’ve personally been told by lead counsel that charges were dropped against their client primarily for the reason that Law of Self Defense had been retained on the case. Why?
      Because our being involved means it’s going to be a much harder fight for the prosecutor than would otherwise have been the case.
      Doesn’t mean they can’t necessarily win–but it means they’re going to have to work a lot harder to get that win than they might have anticipated at the start.
      The reverse is also true–every prosecutor knows that if they’re facing a defendant with limited resources, they’re facing a more vulnerable defendant.
      Absolutely plays a role in their decisionmaking.
      –Andrew
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

    2. Steve, I’m not an attorney and haven’t spent a night at a Holiday Inn Express recently but I do have more than a passing relationship with the criminal justice system.

      That said, Andrew’s answer reflects my experience, and not just with self-defense cases. Defendants who can afford adequate-to-excellent defense are likely going to be avoided unless the level of local publicity makes that avoidance politically impossible.

      Cases that are legally obvious are going to be prosecuted without respect to the ability to defend, mostly because my dog and I could most likely win the conviction. My dog would be lead prosecutor, I’m second chair only for treats. There aren’t lots of those cases around. Most defendants, whether they are self-defense cases or auto theft, can’t afford excellent counsel and they get the “attorney provided to them” by the state.

      It’s unfortunate, but the bottom line is that the prosecutor and the court-appointed attorney could be perceived to be working toward the same goal, getting the defendant to take a plea. Public defenders, and court appointed private attorneys, do not have the resources of the prosecutor and their talent tends to lie more to negotiation with prosecutors than going to trial. That is a very broad, and most likely unfair, statement but it happens to be the perception of people on the wrong side of the criminal justice system.

      Put yourself in the prosecutor’s shoes. You have a case that the defendant is relying on a public defender who will most likely take a plea and disappear into the system and you get credit for a conviction with relatively little effort (not easy, and not “no work”, just less effort than the alternative) or you have a defendant who has very competent legal counsel, in fact, counsel that has specific expertise in self-defense, and has effectively unlimited resources for defense. The latter case is not something that will be long remembered and thrown in your face in the next election. Where would you spend your effort?

    1. This isn’t likely to be resolved in a couple of months. I would suggest you take a hard look at the USCCA program and some of the other policies that are available.

    1. I’d vacillated quite a while on the best choice for self defense “insurance” until the NRA (I’m a Life Member) came out with their Carry Guard program. I just KNEW the NRA would be more committed, more motivated, to ensure that their Members would not fail to prevail with a claim of self defense, than any mere legal defense group. So I jumped in for their Gold Membership.

      VERY fortunately for me, I’d become acquainted with Mr Branca’s LOSD site and books and courses. So when he offered the course on self defense “insurance,” clearly defining in plain English what factors to consider and also providing insights on the various offerings, I bought it and the lights came on! I clearly saw that the NRA’s offering was, frankly, not up to snuff. I considered USCCA’s package but ultimately felt that CCW Safe offered the best coverage for my needs.

      When I learned of Ms Giles’ lawsuit (here on LOSD, of course), I watched the video and was eager to hear USCCA’s position. After the vid I scrolled down and was amazed, and incredibly disappointed, to read their response.

      THANKS AGAIN to Mr. Branca and the LOSD site for making us all aware of this situation. I used to rely heavily on NRATV for my 2A news. Oh well… Although I believe LOSD is focused on the legal considerations in a use of lethal force encounter, more so than the defense of the Amendment, itself, it has definitely become one of my most visited sites!

      All you USCCA Members – check out the LOSD course on “insurance” (while noting Mr. Branca’s withdrawal of his previous support for your program) and make an informed choice.

  3. James A Harwood

    Thanks Mr. Branca for all you do for us here. Some where around about a year ago I first saw you being introduced on a 30 min video on you tube with a young man doing the interviewing. Wish my poor old memory would help me more now, but I saw immediately how brilliant you are in your field, and knew that if you chose CCW SAFE over USCCA, which I’d had for about 11 years that it was time for me to look over the difference. When I heard you more on these and related matters, and knew that you work for and chose CCW SAFE for your own coverage, I knew it was time for me to pay out a few more dollars to upgrade to the best coverage I could find. In a situation in which we need coverage for a first rate defense even I know that’s NOT the time to go cheap. I paid about $30 a month for the platinum coverage in USCCA vs I think it was $499 a year for CCW SAFE. So as you can see, the difference in money was $140 a year. For people who carry and say they can’t afford this plan I’d ask if they have car and home owners ins. On and on I could go. I owe you a debt of gratitude for what you have taught me on these and related matters. I’ve also bought some of your specials in times past and am sure that I will again. All best to you and yours.

    Respectfully & Gratefully,

    James A Harwood

  4. guilty as charged

    This blog has been very helpful to me and the CCW community is very fortunate to have such great help and expertise … for free. Thank you, Andrew for your generosity with your knowledge and keeping me from making serious mistakes. I know I should distrust media, and I was not there in the Walmart parking lot when Giles shot her estranged husband. I don’t know all the contractual language in the USCCA insurance, but let me be the devil’s advocate. The deceased filed for sole custody claiming Giles was abusive. Media claims there were three instances where Giles was the aggressor against the deceased. So 12 days before the shooting, she buys a handgun and make the first payment for the platinum self defense insurance. Maybe the Walmart video will reveal the contrary, but on the surface it sounds fishy. Doesn’t some evidence have to be present to be able to argue self defense at trial, not just a empty claim? Otherwise it looks like a simple murder conviction. I must be missing something. So if you want to take someone’s life, you buy a gun, insurance, shoot, claim self defense, and get half a million dollars to play with? The more money, the more justice you can buy?

    1. Other than buying the insurance, this is not an unusual fact pattern in domestic violence self-defense cases. Often there is an escalating set of confrontations until the victim has enough and decides to take steps to protect themselves. And, buying the insurance is only unusual because so few people who carry concealed actually have insurance or are even aware of the need for insurance or the availability of insurance. Would you consider it unusual if she bought a car and made sure she had car insurance in effect before driving off the dealer’s lot?

      One thing that might lead to denial of coverage is if USCCA has uncovered evidence to show that her shooting her husband was premeditated murder.

      1. Attorney Andrew Branca

        “One thing that might lead to denial of coverage is if USCCA has uncovered evidence to show that her shooting her husband was premeditated murder.”
        If such evidence exists it should be shared with the prosecutor, who can then use it in court (pre-trial) to argue that Giles should be denied the legal defense of self-defense entirely. If that argument convinces the court, and Giles is denied the legal defense of self-defense outright, then it matter would no longer be a self-defense case as a matter of law, and USCCA would be fully entitled to deny covering legal expenses for the case.
        There’s a difference, however, between USCCA considering evidence in secret and making that decision on their own, on the one hand, and that decision being made by a court after vigorous adversarial argument, on the other hand.
        Only one of those resembles due process of law, and it’s not the one in which USCCA alone makes the call.
        Of course, if USCCA had reserved the right to make such a call as a condition of membership, then Giles would be bound by that condition, and USCCA could deny benefits at their discretion.
        I’ve read the USCCA membership agreement closely, however, and more than once, and have never seen such a condition.
        Further, it’s unclear to me that a “self-defense insurance” program that merely promises to pay benefits if they, in their sole discretion, feel like it would be a viable business model. Certainly it would not be one I’d be inclined to recommend, absent remarkable circumstances.
        –Andrew
        Attorney Andrew F. Branca
        Law of Self Defense LLC

  5. Mr. Branca, there is one concern for buying self-defense insurance that I have not seen addressed on web site. In order for a company to pay a claim (whether conventional insurance or a membership organization) they must have sufficient resources. It is not unheard of for an insurance company to deny claims, declare bankruptcy, or just disappear when they can’t afford to pay claims. In order for CCW Safe to pay for a $500,000 defense, they would have to have 1,000 members paying the $500 membership. What assurance do I have that CCW Safe or USCCA or whoever will actually have the resources to defend me to that level? How do I know or how do I find out?

    That is one of the reasons states regulate insurance companies and make them file financial statements. I suspect that avoiding that level of regulation is the reason that self-defense “insurance” groups describe themselves as membership organizations and not insurance companies.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      That’s a perfectly valid question, but I’m afraid I’m not the best person to direct it to. I am not employed by any of the “self-defense insurance” providers and do not speak for them or their business models. The best source for answers to your question re: any particular provider would be that particular provider.
      Whether they answer, or whether you’re satisfied with the answer they provide, is of course another matter entirely.
      –Andrew
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  6. I’d be surprised if any of the self defense “insurance” providers doesn’t have a way to reject claims that fail to qualify as self defense. ACLDN is just up front about it. What does concern me is states that are blocking “insurance” so that prosecutors won’t have to face competent defense in court.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      “I’d be surprised if any of the self defense “insurance” providers doesn’t have a way to reject claims that fail to qualify as self defense.”
      And that would be totally appropriate–if those conditions/exclusions are stated up-front.
      What’s not appropriate would be if those conditions/exclusions were NOT stated up-front, but rather used to “ambush” members when a claim was filed.
      –Andrew
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  7. Interesting that, when looking at the CCW Safe plans, they specifically state that the plans don’t cover you in cases where you’ve used force against a family member or someone in the home who is there with permission or invite. As much as CCW Safe may be superior to USCCA (and I am not a member of either, I’m just talking here…), in this case it seems that if Ms. Grimes had been a CCW Safe member, she wouldn’t even have the option to speak to CCW Safe at ALL, what with her still being related to Mr. Grimes.

    From https://ccwsafe.com/page/ultimate-plan-landing:

    “RESTRICTIONS – THE ULTIMATE PLAN WILL NOT COVER THE FOLLOWING:
    Force used against other family members
    Force used against people who are in your house with permission or invite
    Any force that is not in self defense
    Restrictions listed in Terms of Service”

    I can’t find the same restriction in USCCA’s Membership Agreement (https://www.usccamemberterms.com/), so I don’t know if that could be a factor in the denial of benefits to Ms. Grimes by USCCA.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      That may be true that CCW Safe would not have covered Giles because the Giles shooting was in the context of a domestic event, but then Giles would have been informed of that restriction BEFORE she joined CCW Safe, and either accepted the condition or looked elsewhere for coverage.
      Providers can make any conditions or exclusions they wish, and hold members to those conditions and exclusions, so long as the conditions or exclusions are disclosed up-front–as CCW Safe does in this context. Nobody can complain about conditions or exclusions of which they were informed at the time they joined, those are part of the contractual bargain.
      If USCCA has a similar restriction in their membership agreement, they would be similarly entitled to withhold coverage in the case of Giles. I’ve read their membership agreement, however, and have never found such a restriction. Further, if it’s true that they paid the first $50,000 in benefits, they did so fully aware that the shooting occurred in the context of a domestic dispute, and yet didn’t deny that first $50k.
      It’s a matter of promises being kept, or not. If I’m told that you’ll cover me unless I do X, and then I do X, I should reasonably expect to not be covered–I accepted that as part of the bargain, and you informed me up-front. On the other hand if you tell me you’ll cover me, and never mention X is an exclusion, and then when I need the benefits I discover you’re applying the X exclusion retroactively, without prior notice, ambush-style–well, that’s simply a breach of contract.
      Any organization that pulls a Darth Vader-style “I am alerting the deal. Pray that I don’t alter it any further” retroactive change to a contractual agreement is not an organization I would make use of myself, not one I would recommend to others.
      –Andrew
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

      1. Right Giles, don’t know why I was saying Grimes.

        I certainly wasn’t complaining about or throwing rocks at either organization. It was just interesting to me that in the context of this conversation– her suing the organization for not covering her expenses– that the “other” organization mentioned would not have covered her at all due to the players involved. It would’t have occurred to me to check for such exclusions, and now I know better when I go shopping for CCW insurance coverage. Not that that particular exclusion is meaningful to me.

        Also I agree with you completely- it’s up to the buyer to read the fine print beforehand.

        1. Michael_A: “It would’t have occurred to me to check for such exclusions, and now I know better when I go shopping for CCW insurance coverage.”

          Me neither! I was absolutely convinced I’d made the best choice when I purchased the NRA Carry Guard Gold program. Then I learned about and purchased the LOSD course on Self-Defense “Insurance” programs (https://lawofselfdefense.com/product/self-defense-insurance-explained/). Whether you’re still shopping or whether you’ve already bought (as I had), I’d strongly recommend the course. It was an eye-opener, for me, as it clearly explained the typical coverages, AND exclusions, in Mr. Branca’s typical plain-English manner. Knowing what to look for, when shopping, results in a much better decision.

  8. I have been considering whether to buy self defense insurance for a couple of years now, since I first heard about it though the many ads that the USCCA has. In fact, it was the Warrior Poet Society’s interview with Mr. Brianca that brought me here. However, I kept feeling a reservation about getting their insurance because of all the advertising, particularly the free gun contests… if they are spending that much on promotion, how much is left for the customer? (Purely, my opinion) Adding this incident certainly makes me question whether I should choose them as a provider. I am now looking at what CCW Safe has to offer.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      If you do decide to go with CCW Safe, and only you can make the decision whether they are the best fit for you, keep in mind that you can save 10% on your membership cost by landing either at http://lawofselfdefense.com/ccwsafe, or by using the discount code LOSD when you become a CCW Safe member.
      –Andrew
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  9. guilty as charged

    I can’t imagine CCW without insurance, any insurance is better than nothing. That said, the self defense insurance industry does not look mature, more like a trial and error startup, but the market should settle down in the next few years, maybe the next decade or two.

  10. Pingback: Self-defense, or not? Who decides? – Law of Self Defense

  11. I am wondering if either of the insurance companies would cover an officer’s off duty shooting? As a officer in a major Metropolitan Police Department I see many of these shooting being manipulated via claims the officer put himself in harms way and undermine his self-defense claims even though they have not announced their office and are victims of criminal acts. They manipulate Garrity obtain statements then bludgeon the officer’s self defense claims using the statements off duty officers are forced to make. Any suggestion on that manipulation would as be appreciated.
    Thank you for you time.

    Anonymous Off duty 🙂

    Please don’t post my identifiers.

  12. I went with CCW SAFE because of the coverage, and the prescence of people like Don West. I remember reading of the domestic event exclusions, and decided I was OK with them. I also knew I didn’t like the board determined coverage even with the respected peopple on it. Sounded to me like if they had a bad week and they didn’t like something in my situation, they could just abandon me. I’m sure the only thing to do is wait for official word from USCCA which likely won’t come till the case is decided/settled. I sincerely hope the organization doesn’t become victim of a social media driven rumor attack. Give it time to come to true light. CCW SAFE makes an excellent argument for their business plan, and that plan seems even stronger given the failure of NRA in the market.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      Thanks for that, that article can also be found already linked in the post above.
      –Andrew
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  13. Actually, the USCCA does not sell your book anymore.
    I am a proud member of the USCCA. Not only is your article complete trash, the grammar and spelling mistakes are atrocious.
    Get it together and realize that the USCCA membership is #1. Also, if you knew ANYTHING about it, you would know not to call it insurance because it offers more than just legal protection.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      If you managed to point out any factual errors in the post, I’d have taken your criticism seriously. Merely screaming “TRASH!!111!” and running away, however, simply gets you blocked as a mindless screamer. That’s particularly the case given that you created this account for the sole purpose of making this post.
      Best of luck!
      –Andrew
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

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  15. USCCA WAS UNRESPONSIVE. I emailed them 3x asking them to answer a few Qs before I make my decision to join, and NO ONE EVER GOT BACK TO ME. I even “chatted” with a rep who confirmed the email address was correct. Both CCWSAFE and US LAWSHEILD had comprehensive replies to my questions within 36 hours. Lesson learned: USCCA will take the time to bombard you with marketing emails but cannot spare a few minutes to answer questions for a prospective member.

    (Note: Due to disability, I am not able to call; this was not an issue for CCWSafe or US LAWSHEILD —- they were there for me when I needed them.)

  16. In reading US LawShield’s policy, it appears that while they cover unlimited attorney’s fees they cover $0 EXPENSES (HUGE out of pocket expense), nor do they cover self defense in domestic situations — spouse, ex, dating partners, etc. (unless I misread that paragraph 3 times). Does CCWSafe offer Fees AND Expenses in it’s Unlimited Amount, and do they cover domestic self defense?

    1. I believe CCWsafe covers all costs and expenses from the time you call through the trial and, if you are convicted, appeals. I don’t think anyone covers family or roommate issues. As you stated,, CCWsafe is very good about communicating. I will tell you, I have been a member for years and I have a lot of peace of mind knowing that they completely have my back.

    2. UPDATE TO PREVIOUS POST: USCCA DID get back to me, it just took them a little while.

      Timeliness was only one of the reasons I chose CCW Safe. After two weeks of researching different carriers and READING entire policies to see what was included and excluded, I chose CCW Safe.

      One of the BIGGEST DIFFERENCES between plans is DO THEY COVER COSTS & EXPENSES (C&E)? This is a HUGE amount of money that most people could not afford. — so DO read the Terms & Conditions before signing. Plans either Exclude C&E completely (meaning you pay all C&E out-of-pocket as you go along), or they may Include C&E in with attorney fees UP TO your max limit (which means you have less money for attorney fees), or they may Cover C&E apart from attorney fees which is the best of both worlds. Which you choose could make a HUGE difference in your immediate out-of-pocket expenses.

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