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Personal and advertising injuries

Personal and advertising injuries are typically infringements on a person or business’s personal or intellectual rights. Examples include libel, slander, and copyright infringement.

What are personal and advertising injuries?

Personal and advertising injuries are categories of harm for which general liability insurance and business owner’s policies (BOP) provide coverage.

Personal injuries are acts that violate the rights of a person or business, excluding bodily injuries (physical harm). They include:

  • Libel (written defamation)
  • Slander (spoken defamation)
  • Infringing on a copyright or other intellectual property
  • Invasion of privacy
  • False arrest
  • Wrongful eviction

Advertising injuries are also acts that harm individuals or businesses, but in the context of advertising. A television ad that slanders a competitor would be considered both a personal injury and an advertising injury.

In legal terms, you might see bodily injuries included as a type of personal injury, but that's generally not the case in the insurance industry.

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What types of advertising injuries are covered by insurance?

Your general liability insurance or business owner’s policy will protect you against advertising injury liability, including cases of:

Slander or libel of a person or company: You defame by speech (slander) or in writing or pictures (libel) by making false statements. Professional liability insurance would cover this risk for some professions with unique exposures to slander or libel, including lawyers, media and advertising companies, and publishers.

Violation of a person’s right to privacy: You make oral or written statements that misappropriate someone’s name or likeness, intrude on someone’s right to solitude or privacy, or disclose private facts, even if true.

Use of another company’s advertising themes or concepts without permission: You misappropriate a firm’s advertising content for your own purposes.

Infringement of a person or firm’s copyright or slogans: You use, distribute, or display copyrighted work without the owner’s permission.

What types of personal injuries are covered by insurance?

Your general liability insurance and business owner’s policy will protect you if you commit any of the following personal injury offenses:

False arrest, detention, or imprisonment: You wrongly deprive someone of their personal right to liberty. For example, a retailer detains a person suspected of shoplifting who later files a lawsuit against the store.

Wrongful eviction or entry: As a property owner, you wrongly expel someone from their leased premises or violate their privacy. For example, a commercial landlord evicts a tenant who claims they had resolved the underlying problem.

Malicious prosecution: You take legal action against someone without reasonable cause.

Note that general liability insurance does not cover criminal offenses. For instance, if the landlord violated any eviction laws, the policy would not provide coverage.

How does insurance work in lawsuits stemming from personal and advertising injuries?

Your general liability insurance policy can cover these expenses up to the personal and advertising injury limit listed on your policy’s declarations page:

  • Legal fees
  • Settlement or judgment costs
  • Other court expenses, such as witness fees

When checking how much personal and advertising protection you have, make sure you’re looking at the right limit. Your personal and advertising injury limit is distinct from other limits displayed on your declarations page.

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Updated: April 29, 2022

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