Taking a Second Look at Your Current Liability Coverage
By Guest Author Rocco Esposito, Esposito Insurance Group
Most current standard home, condominium and renters’ insurance policies include liability coverage to protect you against some of life’s usual suspects at home and afield. For example, if a pedestrian slips and falls on your damaged sidewalk, your diseased tree collapses on a neighbor’s garage or your daughter slides into a pedestrian while riding her bike through the neighborhood, chances are that your insurance policy will help you settle the claim.
This is all well and good, but it doesn’t mean you’re covered for civil lawsuits stemming from negligence. In fact, many policies, especially newer ones, do not cover civil lawsuits unless the coverage is explicitly added.
Personal injury coverage is an add-on that covers a number of civil lawsuits – notably slander, libel, defamation of character, wrongful imprisonment, invasion of privacy and wrongful eviction. Nearly all policies written before the year 2000 included such coverage by default. But these types of lawsuits, while not necessarily common, tend to be costly, so many insurance companies made it an option thereafter.
If it’s been a while (if ever) since you’ve reviewed your liability coverage, it’s worth exploring whether it would make sense for you to add civil lawsuit coverage to your home, condo or renter’s insurance policy. To cite a couple of examples of when such coverage might come in handy:
Social Media Mavens – If you or family members spend considerable time voicing opinions on the Internet, you may open yourself to being sued. Let’s suppose your teenager defaces a classmate’s photo and posts it on Facebook, or a painter does a terrible job in your home, and you post a critical blog entry. Whether fair or not, you are at risk for being sued, and as such may need personal injury coverage to cover your legal defense and any subsequent settlement or award. If you think it can’t happen, check out this case of a wedding experience gone sour, currently wending its way through the Oregon courts. Regardless of the outcome, the defense costs can add up fast.
Landlords – Landlords also have particular exposure to wrongful eviction or invasion of privacy lawsuits. One need only watch a few episodes of “The People’s Court” to know that, justified or not, you may face vengeful former tenants.
Of course it’s important to balance the costs of the extra coverage against the risk exposure involved. This is yet another area in which a SageBroadview review of your personal circumstances can help you assess and adopt an appropriate solution for you and your family.
About the Author
Guest Author Rocco Esposito is the principal of Esposito Insurance Group, a New Jersey Insurance agency. He joined Esposito Insurance Group in 2003 after working as an executive with several large companies in technology, manufacturing, retail and software services. He specializes in personal risk management and small business insurance, and advises his customers in making the appropriate insurance choices.