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Facebook Follies: Will Your Insurance Help If You Say The Wrong Thing?
Social networking, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are sites that allow people to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and to make new connections. However these platforms allow the posting of communications that the posters may come to regret. These posts can cause hard feelings and may result in significant financial loss.
In the winter of 2009, a teenager from Oceanside, New York sued Facebook, four of her high school classmates, and their parents for $3 million. The suit accused the four classmates of bullying and humiliating her in a forum on Facebook. They allegedly posted derogatory and false statements about her that were intended to hold her up to “public hatred, ridicule and disgrace.” Whether or not the allegations prove to be true, the teenagers and their parents need legal defense and possibly resources to pay judgments against them. They may look to their homeowner's insurance policies to cover these costs, but will the policies respond? Since 2009 there have been more lawsuits like this one.
A standard policy will probably not cover this. The policy pays amounts for which the policyholder (the insured) is legally liable, plus the costs of legal defense, for bodily injury or property damage done to someone else. The policy defines bodily injury as meaning bodily harm, sickness or disease; it defines property damage as injury to, destruction of, or loss of use of physical property. Neither of these definitions includes saying or publishing something that injures another’s reputation or feelings. Consequently, the policy is unlikely to cover a post on Facebook. The girl from Oceanside did not allege that her classmates hurt her body, made her sick or passed her a disease; she accused them of making her life miserable. The policy does not cover that offense.
Insurance companies may offer special personal injury coverage that can be added to homeowner's policies. This coverage pays for the insured’s liability for several offenses, including oral or written publication of material that violates someone’s privacy. If any of the Oceanside classmates’ parents have this coverage, their insurance may cover the claims.
Another potential source of coverage is a personal umbrella policy. An umbrella provides additional insurance in situations where a loss has used up the amounts of liability insurance under homeowner's or auto policies. It also covers some liability losses that those policies do not cover, such as personal injury losses. Umbrellas typically carry a deductible of $250 or $500. Suppose one of the parents in the Oceanside case does not have personal injury coverage on his homeowner's policy, but he does have an umbrella. The umbrella will pay for his and his child’s defense and their shares of any judgment, minus the $250 deductible. If he does have the coverage on his homeowner's policy, this policy will pay until its limits are exhausted, and the umbrella will pay the rest, up to its limit.
The costs of enhanced homeowner's policies and personal umbrella policies will vary from one insurer to another. Also, the terms of umbrella policies vary among companies. An insurance agent at Halo Insurance & Benefits Group can provide information on coverage options and prices. Call us today at 314-351-HALO(4256).
Communicating online has become part of life today. Social Media outlets like Facebook offer new and exciting ways to meet new people and to stay in touch with people all over the globe. However, they bring with them their own unique risks. Anyone using sites like these should be careful with what they and their children are saying, and they should make sure they have proper insurance backing them up.
Six Reasons Your Home-Based Business Needs a Small Business Policy
Like most new home-based business owners, you believe your homeowner or renter's insurance coverage offers sufficient protection. That is unfortunate, because in most instances these policies offer little to no coverage for business-related losses.
Homeowner's policies are not designed to cover business losses. Most offer a small amount of business property coverage, meant to cover incidental items, such as a computer used for office work.
Depending on your business, you may be able to purchase a homeowner's endorsement to cover your business property. Your insurer is naturally going to want to know more about your business. Questions such as what type of business, how long you have been in business and how many employees are common.
If your business is small with a low risk profile, and with limited client visits to your home, your homeowner's insurer may offer limited liability protection. This protection would cover slips and falls when a client visits your office, which otherwise would not be covered.
If this option is not available, you may want to consider a small business policy. Your homeowner's insurer might offer a home-based business package for a reasonable premium, or another insurer can offer a package policy to cover the liability and property of your business.
Take a look at the following list. If one or more of the items below apply, you may want to consider a business policy for your business:
Business Property, Stock or Equipment over $10,000 in value
A business policy will allow you to insure your office contents, equipment, and stock. A homeowner's policy will likely have little, if any, coverage for business-related items.
Clients visit your office/use your product/depend on your service
Liability insurance can help cover your exposure to lawsuits resulting from slip and falls, product liability claims, personal injury claims, etc. Perhaps even more importantly, it will provide defense costs for such actions. Homeowner's policies do not have coverage for business liability. In a few instances, you may be able to purchase an endorsement to allow coverage for slip and falls due to customer visits, depending on your type of business.
Damage to your office/workspace would require you to relocate/find a temporary substitute
Extra Expense coverage in a business policy will provide funds for a temporary office/workspace or cost of a mobile trailer near your damaged office site.
An Error or Omission could result in a lawsuit that would need to be defended/could seriously damage your business
Errors and Omissions coverage will protect you from judgments and defense costs resulting from past mistakes.
Damage to your workplace could cause you to lose business, perhaps even lose some customers permanently
Business Interruption Coverage will help pay for expenses until your property is repaired or sales return to normal (depending on the policy form)
Your employees use their vehicles to make deliveries or run errands for your business
Non-owned automobile liability will protect your business in the event that your employee has a serious accident during the course of running an errand for your business.
If you have a small business operated out of your home, call an agent today at 314-351-HALO(4256) to discuss these and other risks and help you resolve the coverage gaps.
Are You an Airbnb Host? Make Sure You're Covered.
IF YOU HAVE been considering becoming an Airbnb host to generate some extra income and make use of that extra room that you never use, you'll want to make sure that you are covered in case of injury to one of your guests. Call your insurance Agent now 314-351-HALO(4256)!
You may also be concerned about theft by a guest or any damage they may cause in your abode, none of which you'd want to pay for out of pocket. Hosts are covered by an Airbnb policy, but it's not comprehensive and those gaps could leave you exposed to a claim or lawsuit if the loss to the guest is severe enough.
Airbnb's insurance plan
Airbnb carries something called Host Protection Insurance, which all hosts are covered with at no charge. The plan will cover up to $1 million of liability for you and your landlord (if you have one) against property and physical damage claims by third parties.
For example, if one of your guests falls down the stairs because of an obstruction and they file a lawsuit against you, the insurance could cover the cost of defending and also paying out an award.
Similarly, if one of your guests injures another guest or a tenant in the apartment building you live in, Airbnb's insurance would also cover that.
And if your puppy gets into the guest's room and devours a $200 pair of shoes and some $300 headphones, Airbnb's policy would also kick in.
What's not covered by Airbnb
• Damage to personal property like furniture, stereo equipment, your prized china set, etc.
• Theft of your valuables.
• Sickened guest due to issues at the property, like mold.
• Slander and defamation. Both can be grounds for a lawsuit and if a guest sues a host for either one, the host will not be able to file a claim through Airbnb.
• Harm caused by intentional criminal acts. This is actually excluded on any insurance policy, even homeowner's or renter's coverage.
Do you have a coverage gap?
Your insurance company may deny coverage by citing business use of a home. When a home is rented out frequently, it could be considered a business. A home insurance policy does not cover regular business activities taking place in the home. Talk to an agent to discuss renting basics, renting frequency and what will happen if a guest is injured based on a current policy.
Have a New Drone? Understand your Liability Risks
More and more American homes include a new addition: a drone. While these gadgets can be loads of fun to fly, they also come with responsibility and risk of property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury.
And as people start flying drones, there will be accidents and injuries followed by claims and even lawsuits.
If you are like most people, you were not thinking about insurance when you purchased a drone for you kid. But you'll want to make sure you are properly covered for any accidents, particularly if the victim of is a third party.
The liability protection in homeowners or renters insurance policies will sometimes cover damage or injury from a drone crashing into a neighbor's house, vehicle, or child. Yet this coverage isn't universal and some policies specifically carry an aviation exclusion that encompasses recreational drones, which the Federal Aviation Administration currently classifies as small aircraft.
While your homeowner's policy would likely cover damage if your drone crashes into a neighbor's car, your policy would not cover damage to your own property.
Insurers view drone mishaps as akin to having your mastiff destroying your neighbor's shrubbery, but not your own. In other words, they'd cover the damage to your neighbor but not to your own stuff.
If you are uncertain about your policy covering drone liability, please call us and we can check it for you.
In the likely case that it won't be covered, you can buy drone insurance through individual liability coverage through us.
Liability coverage for physical damage isn't the only kind of coverage you might need.
Insurance lawyers foresee a rise in invasion of privacy claims, which falls under personal injury. If your drone accidentally captures images of a neighbor, and that neighbor feels you have violated his or her privacy, you could be sued.
An umbrella policy or the personal injury section of homeowners insurance could protect you in this case.
But if the invasion of privacy was intentional, like posting photos of your neighbor in a compromising position online, the insurer would not cover the claim.
Beyond insurers, regulators also are preparing for how to manage increased drone flying. As of Dec. 21, 2015 owners of small drones weighting half a pound to 55 pounds, must register the machines with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Here are the details on the rules:
• Registration is mandatory.
• You must register before your first flight.
• Users must be at least 13 years old to register online.
• The registration fee is $5, which is good for three years.
• Currently you can only register on the FAA website. You can register here: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/
• This registration process only applies to hobby and recreational use. Business use rules still forthcoming.
To learn more talk with an agent, today at 314-351-HALO(4256)