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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Allegations Of Libel Or Defamation on Social Media?

The New Need For Personal Injury Protection: Social Media, Your Kids & You.

Social Media has changed the way we live, work and communicate with each other. Technology has made it so anyone can have their voice heard and their comments recorded for posterity. Among the greatest contributors to this revolution? Teenagers...and you can be held responsible for their actions.

Kids on Computer

Take a look at the following example:

Jeffrey comes back from a swim and takes a look at his phone to see he has 20 missed calls and texts. It seems that his boss, girlfriend, mother and others have been trying to get up with him about some pictures and "facts" that your child has posted about him on a social media website. It turns out that the "facts" your child received from a "reliable" source were not true and caused Jeffrey to lose his job, his girlfriend and seriously damaged his reputation. How is Jeffrey likely to fight back? He is going to sue for libel.

Like it or not, your children have a public forum to post anything that they consider newsworthy and you can be held responsible. False accusations made on "gripe sites" or a site like ratemyteacher.com could have legal ramifications. Everything they said becomes a permanent part of the online world. Employers and college admission offices are just two of the many important groups that are reviewing social networking sites as part of their decision making process.

Is there coverage?

These types of claims are not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. You need to have personal injury coverage. Personal Injury coverage is an optional endorsement on the standard homeowners policy that provides protection for libel, slander, defamation of character, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and wrongful eviction. This coverage is also provided by most umbrella policies. Personal Injury coverage is relatively inexpensive and helps provide protection in an area where losses are expected to become more common. It is important to note that coverage excludes acts where the insured knew the information was

false or that it would violate the rights of another. The act must be an innocent mistake.

Not Just Teens

Doctors, churches, local business owners and even people selling things on ebay are among the growing list of plaintiffs suing for libel due to online reviews. A bad online review can be costly for a business. Consumers venting their frustration about an experience with a company should make sure they have their facts straight. If the comments have the desired effect of preventing others from doing business with the company, you can bet that they are going to be checking the validity of the information. Even if you are innocent, it can cost a great deal of time and money to prove.

Many employers are now asking for your Facebook login information as part of the application process. Make sure your kids understand the ramifications of their actions online and keep an eye on their activities.

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