Does your Homeowners Policy cover social media liability and cyberbullying?
Social media has become a ubiquitous presence in our daily lives and an emerging risk for insurance companies. While social networks are used to inform, educate, and entertain, they are also platforms for rants, goading, cyberbullying, libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and more.
Many people assume that the liability coverage in the standard homeowners policy will protect them if they are sued when a family member unintentionally or unwittingly posts, tweets, or blogs something damaging to a person’s reputation or participates in cyberbullying.
However, standard homeowners policies include liability protection for bodily injury or property damage, but, in many cases, do not include “personal injury” coverage, which would cover such claims.
It’s prudent to discuss the terms of your homeowners and umbrella policies with your agent to determine if you have the necessary coverage. A personal injury endorsement may suffice or if you don’t have an umbrella policy, it can be a cost effective way to add excess liability coverage, after the homeowners policy limits are exhausted. You want to be sure the policy provides money for defense as well as pay a judgment or settle a case when legal action is brought against you or your children.
While insurance coverage is important, it’s best to be proactive to preventing problems. Children and teens are heavy users of social media and many lack the understanding of potential repercussions and permanency of their actions.
- Talk to your kids about the dangers that can arise and establish boundaries and rules. It’s crucial they understand it has the potential to hurt others and to cause significant trouble and distress for the family.
- Be proactive about their online presence. Parental control software, checking privacy settings, monitoring programs are good starting points. But more may need to be done.
- Encourage them to immediately report any issues of bullying, harassment or defamation to you and/or the appropriate authorities.