Who needs media liability insurance? Your checklist

Masha Gribova
25 February 2020
5 minute read

Who needs media liability insurance depends on the type of business you’re running, the content you’re working with and what you’re doing with it. That said, any business, if it publishes content online, including social media, should look into a media liability insurance policy.

Sounds simple enough? Maybe, but with new, exciting media formats pushing boundaries all the time, content innovation moves fast, and with it our risks and understanding. To make things easy, our professional indemnity or cyber insurance covers automatically include media liability insurance, so there’s less groundwork for you to do.

From a backfiring tweet or an infographic you didn’t get permission to use, to an unfair product comparison on your website, media liability insurance keeps you protected against potential claims. Find out who needs it in our checklist below.

It pays to check

Whatever you think about digital policymaking, regulations are tightening.

Ofcom is set as the government’s choice for tougher rule enforcement, Insta spats are the norm, and brands can bend and use content to achieve incredible, new frontier results. The problem is, it all happens at lightning speed. One tap, and the mistake is made – your media has caused a big problem.

It’s easy to think that all this takes place above the line of ‘real life’. But media liability risks are par for the course of millions of businesses worldwide. It’s not just politicians and newspapers that need to watch their practice, it’s brands, all sorts of publishers and the companies who support them, too.

From media and technology businesses to specific creative industries, media liability insurance is an essential part of business planning. Even if it’s just checking whether you need the policy.

Do I need media liability insurance?

First things first, ask yourself these key questions. We’ve added a few examples to support your media liability insurance research, but it’s important to get advice from a professional, if you’re not sure.

Are you online?

It might sound like a silly question. But have you thought about all the different ways that your company is ‘digitally active’? This isn’t just about your website, or blog, and what’s on it. It’s about social media risk, from your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram business accounts to platforms you have but rarely use – maybe Pinterest, YouTube or Tumblr.

Whilst we’re on the social media point, you’ll need to consider how your own personal profiles and accounts work with your business ones. The two can easily mingle, for example if you mention a new product on a personal Instagram story.

Even platforms like Whatsapp can cause a headache. If you’ve set up a group chat and are sharing photos, images and videos there, you could be at risk of media liability.

What’s your business?

As we’ve already covered, if you’re publishing content online, including through social media, your business will be at risk for media liability. If you’re running any of these businesses, though, you’ll definitely need to look into this cover:

  • media businesses
  • technology businesses
  • advertising agencies
  • PR agencies
  • multimedia businesses
  • creative industries
  • publishing businesses
  • broadcasting businesses

Can’t see your business on this list? Remember, any business that works with content, either its own or a client’s, will probably need media liability insurance.

What type of media do you work with?

New forms of media are emerging every month, and we won’t try to list them all here. To help you think about your media liability risks, though, check whether you work with any of the most common types. Do you publish articles on a blog, or somewhere else? What about videos – do you upload any to social media, or your website?

Images, from photographs and logos to infographics, tables and maps, also count. So do ebooks, podcasts, broadcast radio and TV content. There’s more (lots more), so round up the content your business is involved with and get clear on whether it needs media liability insurance.

What do you do?

If any of these are part of your business activities, you’ll need to look into media liability insurance.

Content creation, production or marketing

Whether you do this professionally for clients, or as a tactic for your own business, media liability will be a risk. Sharing images, information and other media assets online is part and parcel of content marketing.

Broadcasting

This usually covers TV or radio, but can also include some Bluetooth formats. From voice clips to video and images, if you’re transmitting media assets there will be a media liability risk. Things like webinars and webcasts, and of course podcasts, are broadcast on the internet, so slightly different. They still count as media though, and carry similar risks.

Publishing

When you make a blog post live, you’re publishing content. It can be as simple as that, or you might be delivering a more complex media plan, and part of that might include publishing a report, or new table of data for journalists.

Distributing

If you’re doing it as a full service for clients, this will need no explanation. But if you’re doing it for your own business, it’s important to understand that when you promote content, or send it out, media liability kicks in. Whether it’s going in your regular newsletter, through a third party – even a retweet can count – in a journalist’s article or someone else’s microsite, it’s being distributed.

Paid-for distribution, usually on the cost-per-click (CPC) model, is also an important activity to consider, as part of your media liability.

Video/film production

From an Instagram business uploading a video or a branded YouTube tutorial, to an animation agency producing new work for a client, or a talking head from the CEO doing the rounds on a company email, all of these media carry liability.

What are your risks?

This is probably the trickiest question to answer, because very few businesses know for certain all the risks they carry. That’s why we see so many in the headlines, week in, week out. But it helps to have a picture of the kind of claims that can be made against you.

Media liability insurance works to cover you against the risks below, amongst others:

  • slander
  • breach of copyright
  • breach of confidentiality
  • invasion of privacy
  • making false or misleading statements
  • making unfair comparisons
  • IP infringement
  • defamation
  • using other people’s images or content

Do any of these look familiar to you? Are they risks you know apply to your business? If so, or you think there’s a possibility, you may need media liability insurance.

What next?

Hopefully you’re a bit clearer on whether you need media liability insurance, or at least the questions you need to ask, when getting advice.

Up next, have you checked our detailed guide to media liability insurance, packed with information about how the cover works? It also gives you a few tips for preventing claims like these, so you’re less likely to hit a problem.

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