Self Defense Insurance: Do You Need It? Why?

If you carry a gun or keep it at home for defensive purposes you’re probably aware that a lot of things go into being a responsible gun owner. It doesn’t start and stop with buying a gun; to be a responsible gun owner you need the right ammo, holsters, belts, and accessories to go with the gun you chose. And if you truly want to be responsible, you’ll get proper, regular training. Is there more? What about self defense insurance? Do you really need it?

handgun draw from holster
Carry a gun for self-defense? Then you might need self-defense insurance. (Photo credit: Alien Gear Holsters)

What is Self Defense Insurance?

Without getting too far off into the weeds, let’s say self-defense insurance is financial coverage for the legal fees you could quickly accumulate in the aftermath of a self-defense situation. It isn’t like getting your car covered because it doesn’t serve to replace your gun and it isn’t like health insurance because it doesn’t provide re-payment for any portion of your gun’s ammunition or repairs. It is designed to give law-abiding gun owners a layer of financial protection if they end up being forced to defend themselves from an immediate, credible threat.

crime scene in a parking lot
The last thing you want to have to do after a self-defense shooting is search for a lawyer. (Photo credit: WBTV)

What does it do?

The specific details depend on the company behind it and the plan you select. A self-defense insurance plan could include any of the following coverage options and benefits:

  • Basic attorneys’ fees
  • Bail coverage or reimbursement
  • Crime scene clean-up
  • Lost wages
  • Mental health (therapist visits)
  • Expert witness fees
  • Access to attorneys to ask non-emergent questions about self-defense
  • Monthly educational magazines
  • Books
  • Seminars
  • Education blog content
  • Live-fire classes with qualified instructors
Massad Ayoob, firearms industry author, trainer, and expert witness
Will your self-defense insurance cover the cost of an expert witness like Massad Ayoob? You’d better find out. (Photo credit: Gun Mag Warehouse)

It’s possible for your coverage to span more than the above list (or less). This is why it’s vital to do your homework when choosing a plan. It’s your responsibility to make sure you know the ins and outs of whatever plan you choose for coverage.

Wilson Combat handgun
If you carry a gun for self-defense or keep one at home for protection, you should consider getting self-defense insurance. (Photo credit: Wilson Combat)

What should I look for in Self Defense Insurance?

Aside from the list we’ve already gone over of various potential features, there are some questions to ask when researching plans. This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a good place to start:

  • Am I covered for self-defense while out hunting?
  • Is there a limit to how much of my attorney fees are covered?
  • Does my plan have to be in place for a minimum length of time before it can be used?
  • Does my plan work everywhere, or only where I live?
  • Does my plan cover my significant other? How about my kids?
  • Does my plan cover me at home, in my vehicle, and wherever I go? Are there any exceptions to physical locations that are covered (such as a school)?
  • Can the company refuse to cover an incident after conducting its own investigation?
  • Does the plan cover a self-defense incident related to domestic violence?
  • Does the plan cover self-defense against animal attacks?
  • Does it cover criminal and civil court costs—or only criminal?
  • Does the plan pay for fees upfront or reimburse at some later date?
  • Does paying an annual fee save money compared to a monthly fee?
  • Can I choose my own attorney or do they assign one?
  • Are all lawfully used weapons covered or only guns?
Lego Glock
Don’t let the details of your self-defense insurance plan confuse you. Do research, ask a lot of questions, and don’t carry a gun that looks like this one. (Photo credit: New York Post)

The more questions you get answered prior to signing up for coverage, the better. These aren’t issues you want to be forced to consider or be surprised with, after a self-defense incident.

Is it required by law?

gavel in a law library
No, you aren’t legally required to carry self-defense insurance. (Photo credit: Encyclopedia Britannica)

No, it is not required by law. At the time of this writing, the only laws that have passed regarding gun owners having insurance are in California and apply not to self-defense insurance but to liability insurance. Self-defense insurance is not the same thing as liability insurance at all. And as for the city of San Jose, California, where they signed a bill into law forcing gun owners to get liability insurance, who knows how the city intends to enforce that. Finding an underwriter willing to provide that type of coverage is going to be quite a challenge. Remember, the term “self-defense insurance” is used to make the language relatable and understandable and isn’t technically accurate.

man looking down the barrel of a rifle at a gun store
If you’re a gun owner it’s a good idea to consider getting self-defense insurance. (Photo credit: NPR)

Why Do I Need Self-Defense Insurance?

The biggest reason is to give yourself financial protection in case you’re ever forced to defend yourself. It’s easy to think you’ll be fine no matter what because you’re a law-abiding citizen, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Even something that appears to be a clearly justified shooting can end up with charges being filed against the shooter.

A great example of this is the case of Kyle Rittenhouse or even George Zimmerman. It doesn’t really matter whether you think either of them should have been physically present where the shootings occurred; it matters that both were found “not guilty” and that their actual defensive actions were justified. Both were prosecuted, and both have had their lives changed forever.

desktop statue of Lady Justice
Don’t make your family scramble to find a lawyer after a self-defense incident. Get self-defense insurance so you already have an attorney available. (Photo credit:

Without self-defense insurance, you face the incredible costs of attorneys’ fees and other costs all on your own. You could easily lose everything you own or end up bankrupt. That isn’t an exaggeration, it’s reality.

Then there’s the fact that you don’t want to be struggling to locate an attorney after something has already happened. Your family could end up resorting to Google which isn’t an ideal way to choose a lawyer.

Having self-defense insurance gives you peace of mind and takes the enormous worry and stress of finding an experienced attorney out of the equation. With coverage, you already have access to an attorney or network of attorneys. Your fees are covered, either in part or totally, and your family has a number to call if something happens.

handgun with enlarged magwell
Most plans cover the lawful use of any legal weapon. Check the plan for details before you sign up. (Photo credit: Winchester)

What are the odds I’ll need it?

So many factors come into play regarding the likelihood of whether you’ll end up needing self-defense insurance that it’s impossible to predict. The odds are probably higher than you think. After all, self-defense insurance isn’t only for what happens if you kill someone who was attacking you, it’s for everything in between. It covers a wide variety of self-defense situations and problems. Some plans even help with identity theft.

One thing that should be clarified for the guys in the cheap seats is that self-defense insurance is not “murder insurance.” That’s something a lot of anti-gunners say about it and not much could be further from reality. Self-defense insurance is for law-abiding gun owners and even, in many cases, for people who don’t own guns but might be forced to defend themselves using some other means. There are a lot of reasons you might need self-defense insurance and not really any reasons at all not to get it.

Do yourself a favor and choose a plan. Maybe you’ll never need it. Or, maybe it’ll save your sanity and your finances in the aftermath of a self-defense incident.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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