Does BOP Coverage Address Social Media Risks?

September 01, 2022 | Business Owner Policy (BOP)

This article was originally published June 29, 2022

A business owners policy (BOP), which is also called property and liability insurance, is a policy that combines property insurance and liability insurance. It’s a streamlined approach to small business insurance that makes it easy for owners to protect their companies and property.

But does BOP coverage include any social media risks? That’s a good question.

Coworker taking picture of coffee to post on social media

What Does a Business Owners Policy Cover?

The property coverages in a biBERK BOP protect things like a building you own or lease and its contents. The liability provisions cover customer property damage, non-employee injuries, and product liability.

Liability coverage may also protect your business if your actions create what are called personal and advertising injuries. This is where social media risks come in. These aren’t physical injuries, but rather financial and/or reputational damage to a person or business.

In particular, a biBERK BOP covers:

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    An untrue oral or written statement that is damaging to a person or organization or disparages a person's or organization's goods, products, or services. For example, you may be liable if a competitor loses business because you publish an untrue social media post that claims they use unsafe materials in their products.
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    Oral or written publication, in any manner, of material that violates a person's right of privacy. This might be something like including the accidental disclosure of a person’s email address or phone number in a social media post.
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    Infringing upon another's copyright, trademark, or trade dress in your advertisements, products, or services. For instance, you can’t adopt another company’s tagline for use in your social media posts or ads.

Keep in mind that insurance typically will not cover these types of risk if you knew your actions would violate someone else's rights, knew your statement was false, or incorrectly described your own products or services.  But if you have a successful advertising campaign that’s effectively helping your business grow, and someone wrongfully claims your business is doing something wrong, insurance can provide a good defense to keep your business on track.

Get BOP Insurance Coverage and Take Steps to Minimize Your Social Media Risk

Social media is an important part of promoting businesses today. The key is to use it wisely and in a way that doesn’t result in legal liability.

Your BOP can provide some insight in that area. It’s a good idea to let your business owners policy coverage guide you as you develop a social media policy for your business. Learning about what things like defamation and copyright infringement are can help you understand how to avoid committing them.

Then, you can take that information and create company guidelines on how your social media pages should and should not be used. Generally speaking, it’s best to keep your posts positive and focused on your products and services. If you never mention your competitors—either by name or in a way that makes it obvious who you’re referring to—you greatly reduce your risk of offending them and being named in a lawsuit.

However, if you make statements on your social media pages that financially injure another company’s business, your BOP may provide protection. So, be sure that you use social media carefully and that you have BOP coverage in place before you do.

Understanding Your BOP and Other Available Coverages

It’s important to talk with a licensed biBERK insurance expert to ensure that you understand your BOP insurance coverage. Every business insurance policy has limits and exclusions, and you shouldn’t assume that a particular action is fully covered or covered at all.

Also, when you ask a biBERK representative, "What does a business owners policy cover?" you should also ask about other insurance for businesses that you may need. For example, do you need a workers’ compensation policy? If you have employees, the answer is almost certainly, "Yes".

What about commercial auto insurance? It can protect business-owned or leased vehicles while also protecting the business from liability resulting from their use. Coverage for professional liability (sometimes called errors and omissions or E&O insurance) and liability stemming from cyberattacks may also be important. And, an umbrella insurance policy can provide an added layer of protection on top of another biBERK liability policy.

Financially protecting your company from social media-related claims and other risks is one of the most important things you can do for your business!