Police liability insurance and qualified immunity (QI) are related subjects. Recently, these topics have generated interest. Particularly in the conversation around police reform.
Prymus Insurance is a Texas-based insurance company. As the Texas Signal notes, Prymus wants to create “a first-of-its-kind” policy for police officers. Prymus Insurance is eager to offer police liability insurance.
Police liability is often brought up in connection with qualified immunity. The controversial QI doctrine shields bad cops from accountability. Will requiring police liability insurance improve accountability?
Jeff Harrison thinks so. He is the CEO of Prymus Insurance. Harrison tells the Texas Signal what inspired the idea to offer police liability insurance. “I just looked at it from the standpoint of ‘how come police officers don’t pay anything when they take away someone’s constitutional rights?’ It just defies any logic.”
Police liability insurance is a new concept. However, it’s based on an existing model. That is, liability insurance for doctors. The Texas Signal explains how Prymus’ plan to create police liability insurance works.
“Cops would have to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of settlements and judgments if they got sued,” the publication states. “Similar to other forms of insurance, police officers that engaged in bad behavior would see higher premiums.” Prymus Insurance believes this would create “a strong financial disincentive against engaging in police misconduct.”
Per the Texas Signal, Colorado expressed interest in “making police liability insurance a reality.” When it comes to accountability, the Centennial State is ahead of the game. Last year, Colorado became the first state to end QI for bad cops.
Jeff Harrison, the CEO of Prymus Insurance, “has been in contact” with Colorado lawmakers. They want to introduce police liability insurance for their officers. And in what the Texas Signal calls a “surprising twist,” police unions also support police liability insurance.
Police Liability Insurance and QI on UNACCOUNTABLE
The latest episode of UNACCOUNTABLE also mentions police liability insurance. UNACCOUNTABLE is the new podcast to end qualified immunity.
On the episode, civil rights lawyer Lee Meritt joins hosts Aloe Blacc (musician and activist) and Ben Cohen (co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s and co-chair of the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity). During the conversation, Merritt remarks how officers accused of misconduct “spend most of their money on lawyer fees.” He adds: “You can take them to trial, [but if] they’re not insured personally,” then they have “nothing you can actually collect on.”
Offering police liability insurance is an intriguing notion. And as the Texas Signal indicates, if this happens, “municipalities would no longer spend millions of taxpayer dollars on settlements for the victims of police brutality.” That’s not a bad thing. However, the only way to truly hold bad cops accountable—and further justice for their victims—is to end qualified immunity.