What is defamation insurance?

What is Defamation Insurance?

Professional Indemnity Insurance


Defamation refers to the act of making false statements that harm the reputation of an individual or organisation. Defamation insurance can provide vital financial protection and peace of mind.

Defamation can occur in two forms, with libel or slander.

Libel refers to defamatory statements that are published in a permanent form, such as in writing, images, or other permanent media. This could include books, online articles, or social media posts.

Slander refers to defamatory statements that are spoken rather than written, and are typically transient in nature. This could include spoken words, gestures, or other non-permanent forms of communication.

For a statement to be considered defamatory under UK law, it must meet certain criteria:

1) It must be false.
2) It must be communicated to a third party
3) It must result in harm to their reputation

In addition to proving that the statement is false and has caused harm, the claimant in a defamation case typically needs to demonstrate that the statement refers to them specifically (or a group they are part of), and that it has been published to a third party without lawful justification or excuse. Defamation cases in the UK are often complex and can have serious legal consequences.

Insurance for defamation

Insurance coverage for defamation typically falls under two categories:

Media liability insurance: This type of insurance is designed to protect individuals or organisations engaged in media-related business activities, such as publishing, broadcasting, or advertising. Media liability insurance provides coverage for claims of defamation, libel, slander, copyright infringement, invasion of privacy, and similar risks associated with media content. It can be beneficial for publishers, broadcasters, journalists, advertisers, and others involved in media production.

Professional indemnity insurance: Some professionals, such as, accountants, architects, consultants, and service providers, may face defamation claims arising from statements made in the course of their professional duties. Professional indemnity insurance, also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, can provide coverage for defamation claims as well as other allegations of professional negligence or misconduct.

It's important to note that the availability and scope of coverage may vary depending on the specific insurance policy and the insurer. Coverage limits, exclusions, and conditions may apply, so it's essential to carefully review the policy terms and consult with an insurance agent or broker to ensure adequate protection against defamation claims.

Media liability insurance example:

Imagine a small publishing company that produces a magazine focusing on local news and events. One of the magazine's journalists publishes an article alleging that a local business owner is involved in illegal activities without sufficient evidence to support the claim. The business owner decides to sue the publishing company for defamation, claiming that the article has damaged their reputation and caused financial harm.

In this scenario, the publishing company's media liability insurance policy may cover the costs of defending against the defamation lawsuit, including legal fees, court costs, and any damages awarded to the plaintiff if the company is found liable. The cover helps protect the publishing company from the financial consequences of a defamation claim arising from the content it publishes.

Professional indemnity insurance example:

Consider a marketing consultant who provides services to various clients, including writing promotional materials and managing social media accounts. One of the consultant's clients accuses them of making false and defamatory statements about a competitor in a marketing campaign, leading to a defamation case from the competitor.

In this example, the marketing consultant's professional indemnity insurance, may provide coverage for the defamation claim. The insurance policy could help cover the costs of legal defense, settlement, or judgment related to the defamation lawsuit. The cover is essential for protecting consultants and other professionals from claims of negligence, errors, or misconduct arising from their professional services.

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About the author

Simon Taylor is a respected senior industry professional and a Chartered Insurance Broker with over 20 years’ of experience in the commercial insurance sector as an underwriter, broker and director.