Protection Against Cyberbullying

Is denial of coverage a possibility?

As cyberbullying increases, so do the concerns of whether injuries resulting from these harassments or threats will be covered Cyberbullyunder Homeowner or Personal Umbrella policies. Parents are typically not aware of these activities by their children until legal action is taken. Defending against such action can result in the loss of savings, personal effects, and even homes.

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, and mental injury, all of which may or may not be considered 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.

Making sure you’re protected

Personal injury liability could provide coverage for allegations of slander, libel, or invasion of privacy, but it’s 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 of or by an insured with knowledge of its inaccuracy or knowing that the act would violate the rights of others.

The best step you can take to reduce your risk

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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Categories: Loss Control, Personal / Advertising Injury, Risk Management

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