Homeowners Insurance and the Perils of Social Media

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Imagine you serve as a leader at your church or synagogue. Through your service you and the other leaders discover that the pastor, rabbi, or priest has been embezzling money from the church. You’re at home one evening and decide to make a Facebook post about what has happened or perhaps you even send out a tweet. A month later, a sheriff’s deputy arrives at your door and serves you with suit papers from the pastor who is suing you for libel. What now? Do you have any coverage under your homeowners insurance policy?

You might be protected if your Homeowners policy includes coverage for Personal Injury Liability; however, this coverage is not automatic and is not included on a standard Homeowners insurance policy.

Personal Injury is different from Bodily Injury liability. Bodily Injury includes any physical harm to a person such as a cut, broken  bone, or bruise policy. Personal Injury is much different. It covers false arrest, false imprisonment, wrongful eviction, malicious prosecution, invasion of privacy (oral or written), slander (oral defamation), or libel (written defamation). It’s the last one, libel, where coverage could be found for our church leader who made a post on social media, but only of his or her Homeowners policy has been endorsed to add Personal Injury liability coverage .

The annual premium to add Personal Injury liability coverage is normally $20 or so. Coverage includes the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend the claim and coverage for any damages that are awarded, up to the policy limit.

With the advent of social media, Personal Injury Liability coverage is more important than ever. Think about how many posts and tweets you and your family members make each year. We recommend this coverage to all our clients and suggest you check your policy to be sure it is included.

By the way, the claim example above is based on an actual claim. Truth really is stranger than fiction.