Smart Quiz: Which of the Following is Not Covered by a Standard Homeowners Insurance Policy?
- Slander and Libel Suit
- A Car Hitting the House
- Fire Department Services
- Grave Marker Damage
Answer: Slander and Libel Suit
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” This age old childhood phrase sounds logical, but the reality is that words can truly hurt — and can hurt way more than feelings. Your words, whether spoken or in print, have the potential to cause damage to other people. If they do, you can be accused of slander or libel and find yourself in court defending yourself against a lawsuit.
Your traditional homeowners policy offers some protection for physical injury caused to others, but typically excludes defense against libel and slander. You can purchase a rider to add this coverage, or if you want significant financial protection, you can purchase a separate umbrella policy. Read on to find out exactly what slander and libel are, and why you might want this coverage.
What are Libel and Slander?
By definition, libel and slander are false or incorrect defamatory statements that cause harm to someone’s reputation, business or ability to make a living. Slander is a spoken statement and libel is a written one. Speaking the truth, no matter how harsh, cannot be considered as slander or libel.
To add to the definition, slanderous or libelous statements must be made to a third party, and generally sound like factual statements. In some cases, even expressing an opinion could be considered damaging as well.
Common Places to Find These Statements
Libelous, written statements can be found in a variety of places, including the internet. These include comments on social media, blog posts and responses to articles. Remember, they have to be false and they have to cause damage.
Slander is often harder to prove because the accuser has to rely on the testimony of someone who heard the comments, rather than being able to present hard evidence in writing. In other words, it can be your word against someone else’s.
What Can Slander and Libel Insurance Do for You?
If you purchase an umbrella policy that includes this coverage, your insurance company may help pay for the cost to defend you in a court of law. Even if you are found innocent, legal fees can be steep depending on the length of the trial and the complexity of the case.
These policies can also pay for damages should you be found guilty, but your insurance company won’t defend you or pay for damages if your statements are directly tied to a business you own or if you made the statements intentionally intended to harm.
Purchasing an umbrella policy may give you libel and slander coverage, but there is the additional consideration of added cost. Beyond the cost of the added coverage, you may also be required to increase the underlying liability limits on all of your insurance policies – homeowners, auto, and any other policy you carry, which would increase your premiums overall.
You may think that you’d never be targeted for such a lawsuit, but if you ever post on the internet or write a product or entertainment review, think again. Talk to your insurance agent to confirm what your current policies cover and what changes you need to make to protect yourself. A simple policy change could save you thousands in this litigious online world.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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