When you own a small business, there is a seemingly unlimited number of things that can go wrong. Customer’s injuring themselves in your store, accidentally damaging someone else’s property, or mistakenly giving a client incorrect information are just three of the liability hazards that might immediately spring to mind.
But what about other risks, like a customer alleging that your advertising is misleading or an employee bad-mouthing a business partner? Liabilities like these, commonly referred to as a personal and adverting injury, could also create headaches for your small business.
Fortunately, you may already be protected against these exposures (depending on your current insurance coverage). Let’s take a closer look at personal and advertising injuries and how you can help shield your business against these potential risks.
What are personal and advertising injuries?
A personal and advertising injury can arise in several ways. These commonly include:
- Libel – Damaging a third-party’s reputation in writing, print, pictures, signs, or any communication expressed in physical form
- Slander – Spoken statements that damage a third-party’s reputation
- Disparagement of Goods – False or offensive statements made about a company’s products or services
- Copyright Infringement – Using someone else’s content without their permission
Personal and advertising injury may also refer to events such as stolen ideas, wrongful eviction, malicious prosecution, and wrongful entry or wrongful invasion of a premises.
What is personal injury insurance?
Personal injury coverage or advertisers’ liability insurance does not usually exist as a standalone insurance product. Instead, it is typically included as part of a General Liability insurance policy.
If your General Liability policy includes coverage for advertising injury and personal injury claims, then it will typically protect your business against copyright infringement, stolen ideas, libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and other similar claims. Your policy will cover your legal costs, as well as potential compensation payouts (settlements and judgements).
Advertising injury and Professional Liability insurance
While coverage for personal and advertising injuries is most commonly part of a General Liability insurance policy, there are some specific circumstances where it is not be included.
For example, say you run a marketing or advertising firm, where you provide professional services related to advertising. General Liability policies typically have exclusions for personal and advertising injury caused by the delivery of professional services. An advertising injury claim brought against you under these, or similar circumstances would most likely be denied under your General Liability policy because of this.
In cases like this, you may also consider Professional Liability (a.k.a. Errors and Omissions or E&O) insurance to protect your business. These policies can protect professional service providers against claims of negligence, error, missed deadlines, and other related liabilities.
How to avoid personal and advertising injury claims?
Business insurance can protect your business against personal and advertising injury claims. However, most business owners hope to avoid them in the first place. A risk management strategy that covers these liabilities could help you prevent many unnecessary claims.
Steps that many businesses take to avoid advertising injury claims include:
- Ask permission first – Always ask customers if it’s ok to use a photo of them or their property. This includes photos posted to social media, your website, or in an ad. You should also be clear how you’ll use the image and when.
- Watch what you say – Speaking poorly of the competition or your own clients could come back to haunt you. Even if you think what you are saying is true, your statements (or those made by your employees) could result in a defamation lawsuit.
- Check your facts and figures – Using accurate numbers and statements can help prevent false advertising claims. This applies to advertising, but also quotes provided to your customers. You should also be careful when using statements, like “100% natural” or “best price in town”, that may not be true.
- Be aware of copyright – It’s essential to check the copyright on images and slogans used in your advertising. You may need to get permission from the copyright holder or include required references before the content can be used.
Consider the ways that your business may be vulnerable to personal and advertising injury claims to create a risk management plan for you and your employees.
Insurance to protect your small business
Personal and advertising injury coverage, typically provided through your General Liability policy, can help protect your business against liabilities such as libel, slander, and copyright infringement. You may also consider putting risk management steps in place to help guide your and your employees’ actions and prevent these claims from happening.
BizInsure makes finding business insurance fast and easy for busy business owners. In just 10 minutes, you can:
- Compare General Liability and Errors & Omissions
- Choose the options that work for your business.
- Buy your policies and receive a certificate of insurance instantly.