It used to be bullies were restricted to the playground—but not anymore. Cyberbullying is at epidemic levels. Facebook, YouTube and other social media have become platforms for bullying, and parents of minors who are accused of cyberbullying, also called electronic aggression, are looking for financial recourse.
Executive SummaryAs parents increasingly turn to their homeowners or personal umbrella policies for help paying for their children's cyberbullying, insurers need to assess gray areas of coverage and decide whether they want to cover these claims or not, advises Matt Cullina, CEO of IDentityTheft 911. By correcting gaps now, carriers can limit their exposure and take on only those risks they intend to assume, he says, outlining policy items to revise in order to restrict coverage or to offer semi-restricted or non-restricted options.
As a result, personal lines insurers are seeing increased litigation exposures from electronic aggression claims. In 2012 alone, electronic aggression lawsuits led to verdicts with awards totaling $87 million, according to a 2012 GenRe Research report, “Insurance Issues April 2012.” (Editor’s Note: The $87 million figure relates to all electronic aggression suits, not just those involving minors.)
In 2011, Pew Research Center conducted an extensive nationwide study of 12- to 17-year-olds that reveals just how prevalent cyberbullying has become. For teens using social media, 88 percent witnessed someone bullying another person online, and 12 percent of those teens said the online bullying was frequent (“Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites,” Pew Internet & American Life Project, Nov. 9, 2011). Of those teens polled, 32 percent reported being targets of troubling behavior or intimidation from their peers or anonymous sources.