Just when you thought you had it all covered, along comes a new risk exposure! This time, it could be something as seemingly innocuous as your teenage kid upstairs tweeting about a classmate. Believe it or not, you could be one nasty slanderous 144-character tweet away from a costly personal injury lawsuit…unless you have a personal injury endorsement on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.
Think your standard homeowner’s insurance policy covers personal injuries? Think again. Standard homeowner’s coverage has your back for bodily injury and property damages that don’t involve an automobile or aren’t business-related. (Note: some HO-5 level homeowner’s policies do include PI coverage as standard-issue, but unless you have an extremely high-end piece of property, you probably don’t have HO-5 level coverage.)
However, the typical homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover personal injury issues – which can include things like false arrest, wrongful eviction or entry, invasion or violation of privacy, and yes, slander and defamation. But add a personal liability endorsement, and your homeowner’s coverage extends to any emotional damages you might be sued for. Typically, such an endorsement will also pay the legal costs of defending yourself in the event of a law suit.
Be advised that a personal injury endorsement does not give you license to say, write or post nasty stuff about other people. Like all insurance, a your PI endorsement will likely have a list of exclusions and limitations attached to it. It may not extend to business or non-personal activities, for example, posting a derogatory comment on your home business website or hobby-related blog. Intent matters also. If you knew what you were doing was wrong or inaccurate, your personal injury endorsement may not cover you. The same applies to any activity that is flat out illegal. And, like all insurance, personal injury endorsements only cover activity that occurred after the policy went into effect and while the policy is effective. Coverage isn’t retroactive and it ends the day your policy expires.
In the realm of costs, a personal injury endorsement is a cheap addition to your homeowners’ or renter’s policy – unlikely to add more than a few dollars a year to your premium.