Lost in all the tales of woe about Obamacare and the government shutdown is an interesting story I heard from a friend of mine this week about his own insurance story. Not health insurance, but general home insurance. Turns out he was dropped by his insurer when he told them that he was a blogger. Who knew that blogging could be so risky a profession?
Most of us have some form of home insurance, whether we own a home or rent. We want to protect ourselves in case of fire, floods, or other disasters. Many of us also purchase a separate rider on these policies called an umbrella policy. This covers us for all sorts of odd circumstances, such as libel, slander, false arrests or other things. My friend, Bill Frezza, is a venture capitalist and a blogger, and he was calling his insurance agent to update his policy a few days ago. He volunteered that he was a blogger and the agent asked for the URL of his blog, which is menckenism.com. The next day they called him and told him he had about 10 months to find himself a new insurer. They wouldn’t cover him because he was a blogger.
Yes, Ameriprise sells umbrella policies that cover slander and libel. But apparently not to known bloggers. What about selling Frezza a policy and excluding slander and libel in some kind of waiver? They don’t have any way to do that. They don’t want his business. At all.
“No one should be forced to cover me – this isn’t Obamacare. But you would think I could get a waiver releasing them from slander and libel claims as a really do want the rest of the coverage,” said Frezza. “I guess I should have never volunteered that I was a blogger. But I never thought there would be an issue. Ameriprise told me that if they knew I was a blogger when I signed up for a policy, they would have never given me coverage.” Curiously, they ask all sorts of questions on the enrollment forms, such as whether or not he is a smoker and other demographic data, but not whether he blogs.
The insurance industry has a separate product for publishers and other media folks, called media liability coverage. But that typically is for people who are professionals in their fields. Not necessarily bloggers who may not be making much income from their work. As someone who is a freelance writer, I have never even heard of this coverage, and have never had it. Here is one place to learn more about this coverage.
I asked several of my freelancer friends about this and a few had heard about it.
Frezza has always carried a relatively high umbrella policy, not because he is fearful, but because he is prudent. As a former venture capitalist, he was a clear potential target. “Now I have to find another insurer,” he says. At least he has a few months to shop around. But should he explicitly tell his potential insurers that he blogs? Maybe, maybe not.
Considering the number of us that are bloggers, it could be a problem. Not that I am planning on writing anything that would libel someone, but you never know, particularly these days as the vitriol factor seems to be higher. So the question I have for you: should you tell your insurer that you blog? And what happens when they decide to drop you?