Senate passes bill to ban gun owner discrimination

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Senate passed a bill that would make it illegal for insurance companies to deny policies or charge higher rates solely based on gun ownership.

The bill passed Tuesday on a 36-3 vote.

Channel 4 spoke with Florida Carry's Lead Counsel Tuesday night about the new legislation. Eric Friday called it a necessary piece of legislation.

"If you want to discriminate against somebody, it shouldn't be gun owners," Friday said. "Gun owners are the most law abiding, identifiable portion of the population people with concealed carry permits and are more law abiding than police officers. To discriminate them because they own guns is unacceptable."

Supporters have said some insurance companies would prefer not to insure gun owners and others have a different set of rates.

"There are some companies, there are very few, but there are some companies that will ask questions about firearms, excessive ammunition, assault weaponry as an eligibility question and if the answer to those questions is yes, they won't write you at all, they won't increase the premium, they just won't write you. They would consider that an unacceptable risk," said Jacksonville Insurance Agent Matt Carlucci. 

The legislation would make it illegal to discriminate against a citizen who is exercising their constitutional right to own firearms. Some insurance companies say there is greater risk of claims from gun owners.

"Insurance is all about risk management and if you have a house with some dogs that are more prone to bite, that is a bigger risk than a house that does not have dogs that are prone to bite, so it's all kind of common sense really, but it's about risk management, so I suspect that some companies are trying to stay away from that exposure of excessive firearms in a household that might be easily attainable by children," said Carlucci.

"I haven't heard any good reason for an insurance company to deny a gun owner," Friday said. "I think it's a misperception that somehow gun ownership means a higher risk to an insurance company and there is simply no evidence of that."

A similar House bill is waiting for a floor vote. 

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