Active Shooter Threats in the Workplace

shot detection

The mass shooting that took place in Aberdeen, MD on Sept 20th 2018 was the third such incident in 24 hours in the United States. The day before, a suspect was killed by police after wounding four people at a software company in Middletown, Wisconsin and another suspect was engaged by law enforcement and killed after wounding four in a public courthouse in Masontown, Pennsylvania.

These deplorable and senseless incidents were once singular aberrations in the fabric of America. Now, they are so common that almost no location is safe from this threat. In this current climate, it becomes incumbent on businesses to ensure they are doing all they can to keep their people safe, and limit their risk in the event the unthinkable becomes reality.

In some incidents, the aftermath has addressed civil liability for premise owners & operations brought by survivors and on the behalf of victims. These have been based on a perceived lack of care and failure to employ safety and security measures that are now commonplace in the 21st century. Camera surveillance, access control systems and even gunshot detection platforms are such a reality for American workers that we hardly notice them. Instead, their absence is what creates cause for alarm. Without these systems in place to prevent access and monitor for visual evidence, these civil actions have been successful in obtaining payments under a business’s liability insurance policies.

This has not always been successful, as juries have not always held businesses liable. In the Aurora, Colorado shooting, a jury found cinema chain Cinemark not liable for that crime. Even so, insurers have now started to scrutinize their offerings and coverage to determine what kind of exposure policy holders have to this kind of risk. It’s feasible that worker injuries would be covered by worker’s compensation insurance, while commercial general liability policies would provide remedy for resulting bodily injury claims from customers, vendors and bystanders along with any property damage claims. Currently, many commercial general liability policies do not inherently exclude nor cover active shooter attacks, and may not response to claims with any specificity, where an individual was expressly targeted by a suspect.

When taking a more broad approach, commercial liability policies can include terrorism riders that, under very specific conditions, address acts of terrorism. The federal government does provide re-insurance for insurers under certified acts of terrorism, which was signed into law after the September 11th attacks in 2001. As of 2007, this law also includes domestic terrorism, which had been excluded. However, domestic terrorism has a tough standard to certify, as the federal government has not yet certified any terroristic acts, domestic or foreign, since 2001.

Under this current, heartbreaking trend, active assailant insurance is being offered by many major carriers. These policies often include a number of tools to help save lives, including training for personnel and vulnerability assessments. SOS Technology Group has seen this trend only increase, sadly, and are here to assist with any questions on this topic.

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