In Today’s Social Media World, Are You Protected From Libel?

It is widely thought that a homeowner’s insurance policy covers only incidents that physically occur in the home. This is only partially correct — in fact, with the right conditions in place, coverage can go beyond the home and can insure you for a personal injury claim. You might think of the term “personal injury” as meaning a physical injury suffered by another party. But while a liability policy will likely apply to an incident of physical injury, personal injury is a broader concept.

In the insurance world, personal injury can include harm caused by false arrest, detention, or imprisonment; malicious prosecution; wrongful eviction; slander; libel; and invasion of privacy. A personal injury policy can protect a homeowner and others covered under the policy against a claim for almost every injury that someone can experience without suffering any actual physical harm.

Given this broader definition of personal injury, would your policy cover a claim, for example, for accidentally saying something personally harmful on social media? It depends on the scenario. Here are a few examples:

Scenario 1: Your homeowner’s policy covers liability, but does not cover personal injury liability. In this case, you would not be covered.

Scenario 2: Your homeowner’s policy specifically includes personal injury, but the coverage was added in as an endorsement. If a liability coverage amount appears on your policy, it might cover only physical injury and property damage; it might not cover personal injury. To cover personal injury, the added endorsement must specifically state the words “Personal Injury.”

Scenario 3: You have a deluxe type of homeowner’s policy that automatically covers personal injury. These policies are typically designed for large homes that are over a certain square footage and for homeowners with more sophisticated needs. The cost of these policies is slightly higher than a regular homeowner’s policy, and the policy often includes a number of additional endorsements.

Scenario 4: You have an umbrella policy. Many umbrella policies automatically include personal injury coverage and drop down to first dollar coverage. However, it’s never safe to presume this — be sure to confirm with your agent.

What’s the Bottom Line?

If you are active on social media or even in your community, you are more prone to being sued. What you say might be perfectly fine, but if someone feels your statement has injured them, as innocent as you might have thought it was, that person can file suit against you (with or without an attorney). The good news is that if you have personal injury coverage, your insurance company will defend you against such a suit at no cost to you.

In this case, you will be represented by one of the best attorneys to fend off false allegations, and you’ll save thousands in legal fees. If it turns out that something you said or the way that you said it leaves you liable for personal injury to another party, your insurance company will also pay the amount of the judgment, up to your policy coverage limits.

Ask Your Agent for a Free Policy Review

Call your insurance agent to find out if your homeowner’s or renter’s policy has personal injury coverage. If it does not, this important coverage can be added for an additional minimal cost. Be sure this coverage is listed on the declarations page of your policy and that the appropriate provision is in the policy. Many policies are sent via an electronic PDF file, and it’s easy to run a keyword search in the document for the words “Personal Injury” to see if it is included and whether you are covered.

Don’t wait until after you’ve been served with a lawsuit and it’s too late — call your agent today!