Cyberbullying: Possible Denial Of Insurance Coverage

As cyberbullying increases, so do the concerns of whether injuries resulting from these harassments or threats will be covered under Homeowners or Personal Umbrella policies. Typically, parents are not aware of these activities by their children until legal action is taken, which could result in the loss of savings, personal effects, homes, or automobiles.

The injuries that result from cyberbullying may or may not be covered under a personal insurance policy based on state and individual policy forms. Typical injuries that occur are emotional distress, apprehension, fear, or mental injury; all of which may not be classified under “bodily injury” as defined in a Homeowners policy. “Bodily injury” is usually defined as physical bodily harm such as a broken bone; however, some states define “bodily injury” to include emotional distress.

Personal injury liability could provide coverage for allegations of slander, libel, or invasion of privacy; however, it is not automatically included in a Homeowners policy. Purchasing a separate Umbrella policy, or adding an endorsement to a Homeowners policy could add this coverage. Also be aware that there is an exclusion for statements that arise out of oral or written publication under the direction or by an insured with knowledge of its inaccuracy, or knowing that the act would violate the rights of others.

In the event that emotional distress, anxiety or mental injury is not classified as bodily injury, insureds are not likely to have protection against legal costs under their personal insurance policies. In order to reduce the risk in losing assets, time, expense, and aggravation of legal action arising from cyberbullying, parents should use precautions when their children use electronic devices.

Source: Rough Notes; Donald S. Malecki; July 2012

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Cyberbullying: Possible Denial Of Insurance Coverage
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Categories: Loss Control, Personal / Advertising Injury, Risk Management

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