Media Liability Insurance

As technologies advance, so grow new liabilities. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of creating, storing, sharing and transmitting electronic information.

Previously, only the publishing and broadcast media industries needed to be largely concerned with liabilities related to copyright infringement, libel, slander and defamation. But today, when virtually every type of company now publishes websites, distributes emails and broadcasts electronic media, the need for media liability protection crosses all industry lines. Hi-tech companies that support the creation and distribution of electronic media for others are particularly vulnerable to these growing liabilities.

Enter Media Liability Insurance

In response to this growing liability and need for protection, the insurance industry has developed Media Liability Insurance. Essentially, this is a form of “errors and omissions” or “professional liability” insurance designed to protect firms from claims that allege financial loss due to the distribution of proprietary or false information. Liabilities that are typically covered include:

– Copyright and trademark infringement

– Defamation of character or product

– Personal disparagement

– Invasion of privacy.

Are You Vulnerable?

Consider: Your webmaster posts customer service advice on your website that, unbeknownst to you, includes copyrighted information. Your marketing team broadcasts a product-comparison email that includes false and damaging information about your biggest competitor. Your electronic brochure includes a testimonial from an industry heavyweight – only your sales department neglected to get that individual’s permission to use their name, words or likeness. Each of these errors or omissions by your firm can result in an expensive lawsuit, a sizeable judgment and a damaging hit to your firm’s pocketbook and reputation.

Coverage Concerns

Not all Media Liability Insurance policies are the same. Coverages and rights can vary significantly. In addition to comparing policy limits, deductibles and premiums, consider the following questions:

– When does coverage apply? Because Media Liability Insurance is written on a “claims-made basis, claims or incidences that could potentially lead to a claim typically must be reported to the insurer during the policy period.

– Where does coverage apply? Is international coverage included? This can be a critical concern for businesses that operate overseas.

– What costs are covered? Policies may or may not cover punitive damages. While all policies cover defense costs, some policies count these costs against your policy limits; others don’t.

– Who makes decisions? Who gets to decide whether to accept a settlement, you or your insurer? Who gets to select your legal counsel?

Virtually any business has media liability exposures. Careful management of information and Media Liability Insurance can go a long way to minimizing those risks.

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