November 20, 2020
OLYMPIA, Wash. – An administrative law judge upheld Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s fine and cease-and-desist order against Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, Inc., for illegally acting as an insurer in Washington state.
In March 2020, Kreidler ordered Armed Citizens to stop acting as an insurer. Armed Citizens sells memberships that include self-defense insurance to cover bail and legal costs incurred in conjunction with using force against another person. In May 2020, Kreidler fined Armed Citizens $200,000 for law violations.
“The bottom line is that this is about illegal insurance activity in Washington state,” said Kreidler. “Armed Citizens and other similar organizations try to cloud the issue by saying it’s about guns or about denying people their Second Amendment rights, which is untrue. At the end of the day, Armed Citizens and others like it are attempting to illegally operate as an insurer in Washington state and it’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Armed Citizens appealed both actions and an administrative law judge upheld Kreidler’s actions. The judge amended the fine to $50,000 and ordered Armed Citizens to pay it by Dec. 7, 2020.
The judge’s ruling reads: “… ACLDN is transacting insurance in Washington. Thus, the Insurance Commissioner has authority to issue a cease and desist order and to issue a fine, under the provisions listed below.”
Armed Citizens can appeal the ruling to superior court until Dec. 7.
Armed Citizens, based in Onalaska, Wash., has sold memberships to over 17,000 people nationwide, including 2,559 in Washington state, since 2008. Its marketing materials promise “when a member uses force in self defense, the Network immediately sends up to $25,000 to the member's attorney and can provide up to $25,000 in bail assistance.”
From 2008 to 2019, 25 members nationwide filed claims. Two of the claims occurred in Washington — Armed Citizens paid $2,000 for one claim and denied the other one.
Kreidler has taken similar enforcement action against four other organizations that sell or underwrite insurance for legal expenses and fined them a total of $302,000.
Armed Citizens and other similar organizations can legally sell insurance in Washington state by applying for admission as an insurer and complying with the laws and rules that apply to insurers and insurance producers. Consumers who want to purchase policies that cover legal expenses should contact an agent or broker.