New Jersey is investigating a National Rifle Association-branded firearms insurance product sold in the state, which gun control advocates have derisively called "murder insurance," the state Department of Banking and Insurance announced Tuesday night.
Insurance regulators are examining the business practices of Lockton Affinity, LLC of Kansas "for potential violations related to the marketing and sale of NRA-sponsored insurance under the Carry Guard Program, Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride said in a statement.
The NRA is not licensed to sell insurance in New Jersey, Caride's statement said.
Dean Davison, a spokesman for Lockton Affinity, confirmed Wednesday the company had received "an inquiry from the state of New Jersey."
"We take compliance matters seriously and will work with state regulators to address any concerns," Davison wrote in an email. "Lockton has been in business for more than 50 years and our commitment to regulatory compliance and doing what's best for our clients is unwavering."
William A. Brewer III, counsel for the NRA, said the association "acted appropriately at all times."
"Since 2000, the NRA relied upon Lockton and its assurances that the insurance programs in question complied with all applicable state regulations. To the extent there are questions about Carry Guard being sold as a lawful self-defense insurance program, the NRA relied upon Lockton to administer the program and oversee its availability to New Jersey consumers," Brewer told NJ Advance Media.
According to a promotion for the insurance at mynrainsurance.com, the policy provides "NRA members with protection for legal firearms and attached accessories, such as scopes, rings, mounts, slings and sling swivels. Whether you keep your guns at home or carry them with you, there's always a risk that something may happen to them."
"This coverage protects your guns and accessories from loss, damage, flood, fire and theft (including theft from a locked vehicle)," according to the website.
The state is also examining Chicago-based Illinois Union, a member of the Chubb group, "for potential violations in its role as the underwriter of the insurance product," Caride's statement said.
In May, New York fined Lockton $7 million for unlawfully selling the liability coverage to 680 gun owners, according to a Bloomberg report.
On Aug. 6, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter to other governors alerting them to the insurance product and offering assistance on how to investigate the companies involved.
"I urge you to examine your laws and determine whether or not this product is being illegally sold in your state, and I encourage you to follow New York's lead and block the sale of these NRA products if they are illegal, or to outlaw these products if they are not already prohibited," Cuomo's letter said. "New York State Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo will reach out to her counterparts in your states to discuss the issue and offer any assistance."
Caride did not say how many policies had been sold in the Garden State.
"New Jersey law requires insurance companies selling to residents within the state to comply with specific requirements. The Department has reviewed findings by the New York Department of Financial Services associated with the marketing and sale of Carry Guard insurance in New York and is examining the marketing and sale of this product in New Jersey to determine if, and to what extent, this activity violated state insurance laws," Caride's statement said.
The department and Gov. Phil Murphy's office made the announcement at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and did not immediately respond to questions.