ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – The National Rifle Association claims in court that its insurance provider unlawfully broke their long-standing contract after falling prey to “politically motivated coercion” by anti-gun activists.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Virginia on Friday, the NRA claims the defendant Lockton companies unfairly pulled out of an agreement to participate in the organization’s so-called “NRA Carry Guard” program, cancelling 680 individual insurance policies.
The NRA, which is represented by attorney James Hundley, says under the terms of an agreement that had been in place for 17 years, Lockton created and administered NRA-endorsed insurance programs, and that the relationship had always been beneficial to both parties.
According to the complaint, the relationship abruptly ended on Feb. 26, 2018, when Lockton announced via Twitter that it would cease providing services to the NRA.
The association claims decision was the result of politically-motivated pressure from the New York Department of Financial Services.
The NRA goes on to assert that the department, which had begun an investigation of the Carry Guard program, was itself bowing to pressure from an organization called Everytown for Gun Safety.
“In an apparent effort to placate the regulators in New York, Lockton has engaged in secret communications with underwriters of relevant insurance products, which have induced those underwriters to terminate business with the NRA, its programs, and its members,” the complaint says. “Simply put, Lockton ceased to protect the NRA and its interests.”
New York regulators ultimately concluded the Carry Guard policy violated state law. On May 2, Lockton agreed to pay the state a $7 million fine.
The NRA alleges it received no warning about the cancellation of the contract, and when it questioned Lockton about the tweet, a company representative assured the association it was “unauthorized.”
Despite this, it was never retracted or corrected, the NRA notes in its of complaint.
In the weeks that followed, the NRA says it watched helplessly as other insurance providers, like Chubb and Lloyd’s of London, followed Lockton’s lead.
“Despite its professed expertise and fiduciary obligations, Lockton failed to disclose to the NRA, prior to Lloyd’s termination, that there exists any potential compliance defects or exposure with respect to affinity programs other than Carry Guard,” the complaint says. “The NRA later learned that, as with Chubb, Lockton engaged in communications with Lloyd’s which it refuses to disclose, despite its fiduciary and other contractual duties.”
The NRA says regardless of what politically-motivated coercion Lockton was subjected to, it ” should have honored its fiduciary obligations and longstanding business relationship with the NRA and taken full responsibility for any compliance concerns.”
Though the NRA claims the “politically connected, anti-NRA activist organization” Everytown for Gun Safety “conceived and openly orchestrated” the inquiry by NYDFS, neither it nor NYDFS is named in the complaint.
“Lockton chose to abet the NYDFS blacklisting campaign in order to save itself [and]…. to placate the regulators in New York, Lockton has engaged in secret communication with underwriters of relevant insurance products, which have induced those underwriters to terminate business with the NRA, its programs and its members,” the NRA claims.
When reached Monday, Lockton senior vice president Dean Davison declined to comment on pending litigation.