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Report: Conn. Police Accountability Law Won't Hike Insurance Rates

Law enforcement stops a driver.
Rich Pedroncelli

An end to broad protections for police officers against lawsuits will not hike insurance rates for towns or police departments in Connecticut, according to a report by the Insurance Law Center at University of Connecticut.

The end of qualified immunity for police was the biggest change officers objected to in reforms that lawmakers passed last summer. But a study by Peter Kochenburger at UConn’s Insurance Law Center finds officers would still be mostly covered by their towns — and the change would not hike insurance rates.

“The cost of police liability is a fairly small portion of municipal policy. And that may go up, the liability policy may go up for any number of reasons, but the change of the law, which isn’t much of a change at all in terms of liability, isn’t going to be the reason,” he said.

Kochenburger said police were worried they would have to take out individual insurance to help cover settlements. But he found such policies are rare, because most lawsuit costs are already covered by municipal insurance. And, an individual policy wouldn’t cover the misconduct that excluded police from government immunity, either.

John Krupinski, president of the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police, said his main concern was insurance costs for individual police officers. But Krupinski said the UConn report matches research by the union.

“The report’s accurate, because we ran into the same problems. We couldn’t get any numbers. We couldn’t find coverage either," Krupinski said. "[Lawmakers] made a law without thinking it through. They wanted you to do things that weren’t possible or feasible, and that’s where we’re at today.”

Kochenburger said he wanted more data. He asked insurance companies to detail settlements paid out for police misconduct in Connecticut over the last decade. He said the companies declined.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.