No matter how long I work in insurance, I can almost always tell when someone who’s been putting it off for months, has finally found the time to read their policy in detail. Usually, I’ll receive a question like the title of this article, asking about a very specific coverage limit. The customer is unsure if this applies to their business, and “maybe it can be removed to save a few dollars?”
In the case of Personal & Advertising Injury, if it’s not excluded from coverage via endorsement, it’s almost certainly part of a package of General Liability coverages that isn’t available a la carte. So, if we’re going to have it on your policy, let’s talk about what it is and how it can help protect your business.
Personal Injury, with respect to business, is any act that violates the rights of another business (or an individual). You might remember a certain politician stating a few years ago that “corporations are people too,” and regardless of our feelings about the statement (or its author), I think this is a helpful way to understand how this particular coverage relates to business insurance. It responds to lawsuits that allege libel, slander, invasion of privacy, theft of intellectual property, and sometimes even accusations of wrongful eviction. (See? Even someone like You who’s “Just leasing space to tenants” needs this!) The same way an individual person has the right to expect that they won’t be publicly insulted, or put out on the street under false pretenses, a business can expect to have that same protection under the law.
As for the other half of this coverage, Advertising Injury Liability applies these same concepts to ads, whether on TV or radio, or printed in a newspaper or magazine. You can run a local ad for your deli, telling people that your cold cuts are always fresh, but you can’t end that ad by accusing other local delis of having roaches. But what about the internet? Doesn’t this coverage apply to our most popular forum of the modern world?
This is where it gets a little tricky…
Some carriers still use older policy forms that date back to a few years ago when internet advertisements weren’t as prevalent. I’ve seen some carriers add in endorsements to extend Personal and Advertising Injury Liability to the internet, and to social media. Some carriers give you the option to extend coverage, but others don’t – arguing that this coverage needs to be included as part of a Cyber Security Policy.
I’ve seen this “sub-coverage,” for lack of a better phrase, included or excluded (or offered) under titles like “electronic and social media liability”, “internet media liability”. Chances are it means about the same thing but instead of taking that chance, it’s a good idea to ask your account manager or insurance agent for a copy of the form so you two can review together. A few minutes of quick review will likely determine if a General Liability or Business Owner Policy is enough to meet your needs, or if we need to add an extra brick into the coverage wall with a full Cyber Security policy.
Adjusting your coverage now for a few dollars and a few minutes will take you much further than paying a lawyer out of pocket later for a few thousand dollars over the course of months.