OneBeacon and Media Professional Liability Coverage

This is an interesting little article - really a press release from OneBeacon about a new product the company is marketing - about a suite of insurance products targeted at the needs of small to mid-size media companies. Among the product’s constituent parts is media professional liability coverage, which the article points out includes coverage for “defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright and trademark infringement, emotional distress, trespass, and misappropriation of likeness.”

There are a few things that are interesting about this. The first is that I have long thought - and have written, such as here - that coverage for copyright, defamation, invasion of privacy and similar exposures is worth buying for any company that may face such claims. Media companies, in particular and quite obviously, face this exposure every day. These cases are almost never, in my experience, easy to get rid of cheap if you are a defendant. Sometimes this is because liability is clear - for instance, there is so much similarity between the challenged publication and the publication written by the plaintiff that a finding of copyright infringement is almost certain - and the plaintiff, as a result, has little motivation to compromise the damages and has, instead, a motivation to exaggerate them. Sometimes it is because the plaintiff has a legitimate claim to recover attorney’s fees if it prevails, so there is a motivation to keep on going in the hope of recovering the attorney’s fees the plaintiff has already expended. I could bore you for an hour listing these types of variables that can make these types of cases hard to settle. But the point is that they often are, which makes them expensive to defend, even under the best of circumstances. Big companies obviously don’t have to worry that much about those costs, but smaller companies, who are the target market for this product, clearly do. And that is why this is a market that would be well served by this product.

The second thing I wanted to mention is the wonders of marketing. The media professional liability coverage included in this suite, at least as described in the article, is essentially the old standby advertising injury coverage that has long been sold as an accompaniment to general liability policies. This is a neat rejiggering of that product to target a particular niche market.