Monthly Archives: October 2016

Cyberbullying Coverage. Yep, it’s a Thing.

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Nearly 75 percent of American adults have witnessed online harassment, with 40 percent feeling the brunt of that as a result of cyberbullying, according to a survey on the subject by the Pew Research Center.

Anyone who has had embarrassing photos posted on social media, or has been deluged with angry messages, can attest to the high emotional cost of cyberbullying. But there is also a cost in real dollars for some people who must clean up their online reputations, including legal fees, security measures and even counseling.

In reaction to the growing incidents of cyberbullying, a major insurance provider in the U.S. and Canada recently began offering optional cyberbullying coverage for its homeowners insurance clients. The coverage costs around $70 a year and covers up to $60,000 in compensation to clients and their families for services including psychological counseling, lost salary and, in extreme cases, public relations assistance.

At UIG, we applaud new insurance options that support evolving consumer needs and continue to watch this area with interest. While the jury is still out on whether cyberbullying coverage is a viable product, the world of social media continues to grow at an unprecedented pace with Facebook alone claiming 1.71 billion monthly active users.

If your clients are on social media – and they undoubtedly are – this is great conversation starter to get their opinion on whether or not cyberbullying insurance would be important to them AND, while you’re at it, find out what other coverage areas might be important to them as well.

In the meantime, here are some simple, yet important steps your clients can take to proactively protect their online reputation:

  1. Keep all evidence of the bullying: messages, posts, comments, etc.  If there are ways you can determine who is making the comments, document that as well.
  2. When cyberbullying occurs, immediately contact the service or content provider through which the bullying happened. Take time to familiarize yourself with the Terms of Use for the various sites you frequent and the online accounts you have.  Many web sites expressly prohibit harassment and if you report it through their established mechanisms, the content and/or bully should be removed from the site in a timely manner.
  3. Be careful not to retaliate or do anything that might be perceived by an outsider to have contributed to the problem.  Do not respond to the cyberbully except to calmly tell them to stop.  If they refuse, you may have to take additional actions.  If you are ever afraid for your safety, contact law enforcement to investigate.  They can determine whether any threats made are credible.  If they are, the police will formally look into it.  The evidence that you have collected will help them to evaluate your situation.
  4. Check your state laws.  In Wisconsin, for example, it is a misdemeanor if someone uses computerized communication systems to “frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass another person.”  It is also against the law to “harass annoy, or offend another person.”  Check the laws in your state to determine if the police should get involved.
  5. Keep it private: Set social media profiles to “private,” avoid writing posts that are too frequent and opinionated, and block or mute accounts that go too far.
  6. Be proactive about your child’s online presence: While more schools are educating kids about cyber abuse, parents should still monitor how their kids use social media, establishing boundaries and rules around when it’s OK to use technology.
  7. Get help when you need it: For those who feel overwhelmed managing their online presence, resources like online ReputationDefender can offer a reprieve for a price. ReputationDefender typically charges private clients between $3,000 and $20,000 per year, while Reputation 911 offers monthly packages for personal reputation management between $195 and $995.

Sources:

Your Money: Cyber bullying delivers a punch to consumer wallets

AdWeek: Study: 40% of Adults Experience Cyberbullying

 

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