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Active Shooter and Workplace Violence Insurance

By Nina Terenzi, Jul. 11, 2019
Active Shooter and Workplace Violence Insurance

Active Shooter and Workplace Violence Insurance

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Unfortunately, the risk of a shooting happening at a business has become increasingly substantial. According to reports by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), so far in 2019 there has already been 21,563 incidents of gun violence in the US, resulting in 5,669 deaths and 10,827 injuries. Of these incidents, 148 have been defined by the GVA as mass shootings, meaning they included four or more victims. As the second leading cause of work-site deaths in the United States, workplace violence costs employers over $120 billion annually, according to estimates by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 2012. Since any business is vulnerable to violence, it is critical for employers to have procedures in place in the event of an incident that can help minimize employee trauma and facilitate the organization’s recovery from the incident.

What defines an Active Shooter or Workplace Violence Event?

The Private Market Insurance Policy definition of workplace violence is, “any event involving an assailant(s) and the named insured where a weapon has been used or brandished on any location(s) of the named insured.” For further clarification, the CDC has identified four main types of workplace violence:

  • Criminal intent: the assailant has no relationship to the business or employee and is simply committing a crime for the sake of committing violent crime. For example, an employee being assaulted in the parking garage or their workplace.
  • Customer/client: this is most common in the healthcare industry and includes violence from patients, family members, and visitors towards a healthcare worker or caretaker. Referred to as client-on-worker-violence, research shows that this often occurs in emergency and psychiatric treatment settings and waiting rooms but is not limited to these instances.
  • Worker-on-worker: this includes bullying, verbal and emotional abuse that is unfair, offensive or humiliating but also includes physical violence. This type of violence is typically directed at those who are of lower hierarchy in the organization.
  • Personal relationship: an instance where the perpetrator has a personal relationship to the victim. For example, if the husband of a nurse follows her to the hospital and threatens her and/or her coworkers and patients.

Who commits these acts?

Workplace violence is certainly not limited to employees. Customers, clients, patients, employees, and domestic partners or family members have all been known to engage in acts of violence. Typically, workplace violence is committed by males ages 18-25 who have fallen victim to bullying. According to an NTAC study on 28 Workplace/Public Violence events, common themes among attackers were:

  • Being motivated by personal grievance related to a workplace, domestic, or other issue.
  • Half had a history of criminal charges, mental health symptoms, and/or illicit substance abuse.
  • All had, at minimum, one significant stressor within the last five years, and over half had indications of financial instability during that time.
  • Over three-quarters exhibited concerning communications or drew concern from others before the attack. On average, attackers who showed concern caused more harm than those who did not exhibit any red flags.

Recovery and Insurance Coverage: 

The first priority in the days and weeks after an active shooter incident will be managing the emotional trauma of employees. Communication is critical and offering them the emotional support they need will help you retain your workforce and have a stronger recovery as an organization. Businesses that are prepared for an act of workplace violence can help eliminate some of the stress of inevitable business interruption. It is important to consider how the effects of an incident will touch your customers, vendors and other business partners. Be prepared for questions like:

  • How long before I regain access to the premises?
  • When can I expect employees to be back to work?
  • Will I recover lost business income if I cannot continue operations?

Your standard commercial insurance policies are unlikely to cover expenses related to a workplace shooting. Active shooter coverage is a stand-alone policy that starts at $1,200 in annual premium (so even if you don’t have a current policy with Eastern Insurance, you can still purchase Workplace Violence coverage for your business with us). Standard limits for this type of policy will run from $1 million to $5 million, but surplus coverage can go up to $100 million. These policies can offer coverage for both victims and business expenses, such as:

  • Physical damage coverage – reimbursement for physical loss or damage to insured property caused by an active shooter/workplace violence incident, such as structural damage and building closure or teardown.
  • Legal liability/litigation – businesses may be legally obligated to cover the costs of damages and claims resulting from an active shooter or workplace violence incident.
  • Crisis management – fees to help manage public relations and reassure safety of family and employees as well as reinforce company branding.
  • Business interruption coverage – in the event of physical loss, damage, destruction, or loss of access to business property resulting in loss of income.
  • Medical expenses, funeral expenses, and death benefit – helps the victims of an active shooter event, and their families, by providing a supportive response to the trauma, including but not limited to psychiatric counseling for victims traumatized by the event, rehabilitation resulting from an injury or trauma, and any follow-up medical care needed such as surgery.
  • Loss of attraction – helps in terms of rebranding a business and rehabilitating their image after an active shooter event, as these types of incidents can often create stigma around the business and neighborhood.
  • 3rd party legal liability expenses - includes defense costs and indemnity/judgements/settlements, business interruption expenses, costs to resume operations, post-event crisis management such as PR and security, off-site exposures, and any physical damage to property including demolition, clearance and memorialization costs.

To learn more about active shooter coverage, contact Dennis Gilligan at, or at 508.620.3478. For any other business insurance needs, we invite you to  talk to a member of our commercial lines team at Eastern Insurance — we are happy to answer any questions you may have and to help you determine which insurance options are best for your unique business. We can be reached by phone at 1-800-333-7234, or on our website:


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