Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blogger Risk Management 101

  Well folks, it finally happened!  After 10 months of blogging, I finally had to refuse my first moderated comment on this blog.  I am actually surprised that this was the first time that this happened, given some of the fiery topics that I have discussed on this site.  Most people get my sarcasm and my poor attempts at humour, so I guess this could be the reason for the well behaved comments! 

 I will not repeat or comment on what the comment was about, but lets just say that if I published it, a local political figure would have rightfully sued me on the spot.  And my friends, I just was not going to let that happen.  It would have shut me down pretty quick, and sorry...you are not going to get rid of me that easy!

 Given some of the high profile cases in the media lately, I began to wonder if my fellow bloggers really understood the risks associated with their posts?  I was not sure, so I decided to post Risk Management-101:

 As a commercial insurance broker, I am well aware of the liability issues surrounding blog posts/online forums and even posts on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. The Canadian insurance companies are archaic at best and usually they are slow to respond to the changing exposures that the internet offers.

  I have never had a client come to me asking for this coverage, mostly because I believe the scope of people who "need" it is rather small. The amount of blog authors in Canada is relatively tiny compared to the general population. There is not a huge demand for this type of coverage because of this and the fact that most people are actually ignorant to the exposures they face.

  I note that on most home insurance policies ( including the largest Insurance company in Canada) there is an exclusion on the liability section relating to any claims relating to:

"the distribution or display of date (which means anything-including words..HA!) by means of an Internet Website, the Internet, and intranet, extranet, or similar device or system used or intended or electronic communication or data."

Now, the intent of this exclusion is pretty clear. Nothing relating to libel/slander/defamation would be covered. This exclusion also is listed on the Personal Umbrella policy. However, not all insurance companies are up to speed on this and some do not specifically list this exclusion on their home or umbrella liability products.

That said, exclusion or no exclusion, every policy will exclude ' intentional acts'. This means that anyone who posts anything that is knowingly false or libelous, will not have coverage anyway. So basically, the average blogger cannot get coverage for this as it is un-insurable. 

As a blogger ( and commercial insurance broker with a risk management background) I apply simple risk management tests to my own blog. It is actually quite simple and really only involves common sense...
  • Would any of my posts embarrass my family, employer or the organizations that I am a volunteer board member?
  • I may blog about my opinion on a topic, but I only do so on matters that are of public record. ( In the news media) I try not to blog on speculation/rumour unless it is theory or political opinion. I have had to stay away from some good posts because of this!
  • Would I be embarrassed if the post was published in the MSM?
  • If this topic was about me personally, would my reputation be tarnished? 
If the answer is yes, then the risk is mine. 

I know some people like to post anonymously or under creative names, but this will not help you if you slander someone.  So, unless you have a bunch of extra cash...think it through!


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  1. I understand that there's a bit of risk involved, but this is the only avenue for that kind of "pushing the limits" game.

    I think there is a willingness in me to do whatever it takes to get people informed and interested, even if that means a significant amount of risk and burden is involved.

    If the things I post are so contentious that I would be disciplined for it, then I am sure democracy is failing (it already is, but let's reverse that).

  2. Good post, and good reminders, that being said isn't there a high degree of common sense in play here?

    Not that there isn't a shortage of common sense out there, but still -- if you say it, and if you write it, you are responsible for it. Once it comes out of your mouth, you own it!