When it comes to your homeowners policy, did you know the liability section covers only “bodily injury” and “property damage?” Thus, any type of non-bodily injury, such as personal injury, is excluded without the attachment of a personal injury endorsement.
Examples of personal injury claims include wrongful eviction, wrongful entry, and oral or written publication that injures a party’s reputation. This latter event is becoming particularly problematic with the rapid growth in social media.
So here are some tips to carefully manage your personal injury loss exposure.
- Exercise caution when posting on social media sites. Anything negative you share on the Internet is permanent. Avoid highly controversial subjects, sensitive political issues, or inflammatory remarks. Taking the high road is the best approach.
- If you are blogging or communicating on social media, be careful that you have your facts straight. If it is a close call or a gray area, why say it at all?
- Exercise caution in the case of product disparagement. There are lawyers and business owners who are willing to threaten lawsuits when it comes to negative comments about their products.
- Provide strict ground rules for your children on social media and closely monitor their activities. Keep the computer in a public part of the home in order to closely watch their activities. Screen who your children “friend” on Facebook. Place strict limits on the amount of time your children spend online. Provide age-appropriate and concrete explanations of libel, slander, sexting, and their ramifications.
- If you are on a not-for-profit board, such as a homeowners association, exercise due care in dealing with others on sensitive matters. Be especially careful regarding newsletters that go out to the community.
- Procure a personal injury endorsement with sufficient limits to provide protection for a personal injury claim. But remember that this endorsement does not provide protection for business-related activities.
- Purchase a personal umbrella policy that provides higher liability limits for a variety of personal liability claims, including personal injury.
Jim, CPCU, AU
Director of Personal Lines Underwriting
Copyright 2015, International Risk Management Institute, Inc.