Jeff Pearce
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Editorial: Speak Up Over the Carnage | Canadian Insurance

Editorial: Speak Up Over the Carnage

Why the insurance industry needs to take point on gun control

So it’s come to this. We’re now in a world where the P & C insurance industry has to treat a deranged individual who storms into a mall toting a shotgun with the same actuarial stoicism it brings to floods, hurricanes and sinkholes. This is why our cover feature this month explores the insurance considerations over what are called “active shooters,” and we’re doing it because we can’t afford to indulge in that favourite Canadian conceit—looking down on Americans.

Yes, the stats on these gun rampages in the U.S., let alone the numbers for its “regular” gun-related violence, are horrific and disturbing. But, as Ronan O’Beirne’s article reminds us, we still live in the long shadow of the Montreal Massacre, and new tragedies could and likely will happen here—all too easily. For calculating coverage and preparing for such a nightmare, Marsh Canada’s practice leader of organizational risk and resilience, Mark Aiello, asks a rather blunt but essential question: “Does a professor who’s running a lecture at one point in time really know what the heck to do if a shooter walks into that lecture hall?”

Probably not. And what a terrible thing that he should have to. Now we can shake our heads, sigh wearily and then go chat about succession problems at the latest cocktail fundraiser. Or the insurance industry can take strong leadership on this epidemic. After all, if industry associations can warn consumers to clear their eavestroughs to help prevent flooding, if companies will embrace the stream of data that telematics will offer to make driving safer, why can’t it take point on the gun control issue?

These are not disasters that are freak occurrences of the weather—they’re massacres that are preventable. The warped perception down south is that gun control is a constitutional “rights” issue, one that has found believers even in Canada, despite the fact that we have absolutely nothing in our history to justify such a claim. But we don’t have to live with guns the way we tolerate bad storms. This is a health and safety issue, and it should be treated accordingly. Oh, and please don’t tell me that wading into the gun issue is “dabbling in politics.” The leaders in the biz are happy to speak out when legislation affects their bottom line.

Pop culture is full of the glorification of the gun, and we can all rattle off the movie tag-line questions: “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Then there’s “You talkin’ to me?” But when there’s blood on the walls, and sobs and screams near the caution tape, I’ve got my own question for the insurance industry: Do you really want to deal with the claims from such tragedies?

Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the August 2014 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine