Do your parents have “cyberbullying” insurance?
You are undoubtedly aware of the increase of incidents of bullying online and by cell phone. For statistics about the ages of bullies and victims, take a look at Stomp Out Bullying.
The main point here is that cyberbullying can expose your parents to civil liability. That means they can be sued for any harm you cause another by your online activities. The growing number of personal injuries and deaths of bullying victims has caught the attention of the insurance industry in America.
Most home insurance policies do not cover incidents of cyberbullying. In fact, starting in October, 2011, many insurance companies will specifically exclude what they call “electronic aggression” from their liability coverage. That means if you cause mental or physical harm to someone by posting mean, harassing comments, blogs, photos, etc., your parents may be sued in a court of law.
The American Association of Insurance Services supplies standardized forms to more than 700 insurance companies in the United States. They have amended their personal umbrella policy forms to exclude electronic aggression which is defined as “including but not limited to harassment or bullying committed by means of an electronic forum, including but not limited to a blog, an electronic bulletin board, an electronic chat room, a gripe site, a social networking site, a website, or a weblog; or by other electronic means, including but not limited to email, instant messaging, or text messaging.”
The Insurance Services Office, another provider of forms to insurance companies, is addressing cyber liability by offering optional personal injury coverage with specific limitations.
Until recently, the insurance industry had focused on reducing online security breaches and theft of confidential data. A parents’ exposure to liability from their child’s social networking life has resulted in a need for insurance protection.
Check out this story about the consequences of student internet speech on and off-campus.
There is also the case of Justin S. who created a website at home called “Teacher Sux.” He was critical of teachers and made sexual comments about them. The consequences were devastating to one of the teachers who had to take medical leave for the next year. She and her husband sued Justin’s parents. A jury awarded $450,000.00 in damages to the victim and $50,000.00 to her husband for loss of companionship.
Bottom line: “Think B4 U Click”