Much theorizing about the provision of non-state services considers the idea of insurance.

Insurance is there to minimize the risk of certain events, where the cost of the event is high and the likelihood low. We may be familiar with accident insurance, health insurance, or fire insurance. But what about national defense insurance or local security insurance?

The cool thing about insurance is that it incentivizes best practices. How so? Because bad practices can often be costly. For example, if you smoke, your health insurance premiums will increase – thus incentivizing the healthy practice of not smoking. In the case of local security insurance, then, having locks on your doors and a working burglar alarm may lower your premiums too.

Private police forces may also invest in insurance, to protect against damages in legal actions brought in response to police abuses.

In fact, this kind of insurance is already on the market for municipal police forces, and it is already operating to abate police abuse:

In Wisconsin . . . an insurer in 2002 recommended new training and supervision of SWAT teams in the Lake Winnebago area in the aftermath of two botched drug raids. In 2010, a police chief in Rutledge, Tennessee, was fired to appease the town’s liability insurer after assault allegations were leveled against him. In many other states, police forces have been asked to adopt new policies regarding body cameras, strip searches, and use of force.

. . .

Before the threat of losing their insurance materialized, the city [of Irwindale, California] had failed to invest in adequate training for police officers, citing budgetary concerns. The two-dozen members of the department only had about 300 hours of training in three years. . . . Members of the police department participated in around 1,000 hours of training in a single year after CJPIA [California Joint Powers Insurance Authority] got involved.

The promise of police insurance is set to extend even further. As the article explains, the vast majority of municipalities that have purchased insurance are small in size. Larger cities have the funds to self-insure. However, we are experiencing the beginnings of a movement for more police forces to adopt insurance.

PTB Questions: If the state gets out of the business of policing, what are the odds that security functions are going to be adopted on an insurance model? Might we expect to see the purchase of police services by security insurance companies? If so, would this insurance be on the hook for the abuses of the police services they purchase? If so, would this incentivize the kind of anti-abuse prevention techniques discussed above? Or must police purchase their own insurance for abuse prevention to be adequately incentivized?

Caution: Not all is rosy with the picture here. For example, to pay for all their new training, the city of Irwindale “dedicated money from asset forfeitures – a practice that itself is under scrutiny – and used it on training sessions for officers.”