Here’s why slander is such a big deal and how to get the protection you need.
Libel, slander, and other defamatory statements don’t just happen on TV. They’re very real and very common, especially with social media.
In today’s litigious society, lawsuits are increasingly common, even for seemingly “trivial” things. Which is why it’s so important for homeowners to know that defamatory statements are not covered by your standard Homeowners Insurance policy.
But that doesn’t mean you have to pay for lawsuits out-of-pocket.
Here’s everything you need to know about protecting your family from the financial devastation of a defamation lawsuit.
Libel vs. Slander
First, a few definitions.
Libel and slander are both types of defamatory statements—a statement designed to destroy the reputation of another person. The only difference between the two is that libel is written, while slander is spoken.
Unlike bodily injuries, attacks on someone’s character or reputation are not covered under your typical homeowner’s policy.
And when we say “attacks on someone’s character,” think “cyber bullying.” Whether a school-aged child or a grown adult, we all know how heated social media threads can get.
Why Slander and Libel Are Such a Big Deal
One word: lawsuits.
In today’s litigious society, lawsuits are increasingly common, including claims of “defamation of character.”
It might be difficult to prove what someone said (short of having a recording of it), but the internet is different. Your words live forever in black and white…and sometimes as an emoji.
And before you say, “I would never do anything like that,” answer this: do you have children? As a parent, you are vicariously responsible for things your children say, both online and in “real life.”
“But they’re just kids. Kids say stupid things sometimes.”
The rate at which kids “grow up” nowadays can be enough to make their parents’ heads spin. Their online antics might seem fake, but the damage they cause can be anything but. Little Aiden’s teasing remarks may have been overlooked in the past, but in 2020, they can carry the same million-dollar risk as true cyber bullying.
And even if the lawsuit is ruled in your favor (and you or your loved one is found not have committed an offense worthy of a monetary judgment), you will still have to pay for the costs of hiring an attorney to defend your interests.
This incredibly valuable insurance protection would provide that defense cost in most cases.
Libel and slander aren’t just nebulous concepts that exist on an episode of Law & Order, they’re a very clear and present danger. One that can be prevented with a Personal Injury Endorsement on your insurance policy.
Personal Injury vs. Personal Liability
“But wait…I thought my Homeowners insurance already covered Personal Injury?”
Yes, your standard HO3 policy provides a certain level of protection for visitors who are physically injured on your property, but this coverage is referred to as Personal Liability coverage.
Personal Injury, on the other hand, covers:
- False arrest
- Wrongful entry/eviction
- Invasion of privacy
- Libel and slander
- Legal fees involved in your defense
For protection against this type of risk, you would need a Personal Injury Endorsement. Note that endorsements vary by company, so check YOUR insurer’s endorsement for exact coverage details.
What is a Personal Injury Endorsement?
A Personal Injury endorsement is a common rider that can be added to many homeowner policies and provides coverage if a third party accuses you of libel and/or slander (whether you are guilty or not).
The exact coverage will vary by company and policy, and you should expect to see some restrictions and limitations. A common restriction is against business-related incidents. This means that you probably won’t be covered for defamatory statements you made on your business’s Facebook page or website (for example).
Another important point: a Personal Injury endorsement does not give you carte blanche to say whatever you want because “I’m untouchable!” Rather, it provides a layer of protection for unintentional harm you may have caused another person.
In fact, take this opportunity to talk to your kids about the dangers of social media and the importance of watching what they say at any time (not just on Instagram).
Even better: Personal Injury endorsements are usually incredibly affordable. Depending on your policy limit, you may end up paying less than $100 per year.
These days, it can seem impossible to keep up with the different reasons you can be sued or accused of wrongdoing. But the good news is that you don’t have to. That’s what independent insurance agents are for!
If you’re curious about a Personal Injury endorsement or have any other questions about your insurance coverage, make sure you contact your agent periodically. He or she will be able to tell you what upgrade or add-on features are available and point you in the right direction to fill any “gaps” in your policy.
But remember: when it comes to your insurance, coverage should come before price.
And if you don’t have an independent insurance agent yet, we’d love to meet you! Give us a call at 407-855-1000 or visit our website for a free quote.