Media Professional Insurance
Coverage Recommendations for Advertising, Design, Marketing & Media Professionals

In a saturated market, a new idea is difficult to come by for media firms that work in graphic design, marketing, and advertising. Ideas and concepts get recycled, and media professionals need to tread carefully or risk infringing on another party's copyright or trademark.

Of course, sometimes a new logo or slogan is a little too close to one that already exists. Or an elaborate campaign brings in a ho-hum number of new customers. When things like this happen, lawsuits may result. To ensure that you have adequate funds to defend your business, it’s a good idea to invest in media liability insurance for your agency.

Media liability insurance offers financial protection from the high cost of lawsuits, which might otherwise bankrupt a company. Commercial Property Insurance provides funds to replace or repair the equipment and office space essential to maintaining your operations.

Insurance Options for Advertising, Graphic Design, and Marketing Firms

Insureon's agents specialize in insurance for advertising and media professionals, so we can tailor your insurance options to cover your business's liabilities. Whether you work as a freelance graphic designer or run a major marketing agency, the following policies can be customized to cover your business:

General Liability Insurance for Advertising Agencies and Graphic Designers

General Liability Insurance is the first policy many small businesses buy. It can cover the cost of lawsuits over third-party injuries (or “slip-and-fall lawsuits,” as they’re commonly called), including the cost of an ambulance ride for someone injured at your office.

For businesses that don’t make their living in publishing, General Liability may also cover lawsuits over “advertising injuries,” including libel, slander, defamation, and copyright or trademark infringement. But if creating and / or publishing media is a primary work function for your business, your General Liability policy will likely exclude coverage for related lawsuits. Don’t worry, though: advertising agencies and other media professionals can typically find that coverage in an Errors & Omissions policy (more on that below).

Most of the time, small publishers, advertisers, and other media professionals choose a General Liability Insurance policy that offers up to $1 million in coverage for any single incident and up to $2 million in coverage for all incidents within a policy’s term (usually a year). The typical media business that shops with Insureon pays less than $500 per year for this coverage (for a more detailed breakdown, see our media liability insurance cost page).

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Business Owner's Policy

The Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) is a dream come true for many small advertising agencies and media companies. Like small-business owners, the BOP multitasks by combining two essential types of business insurance: General Liability and Commercial Property. Even better? A BOP is usually less expensive than buying the two policies individually.

BOP Insurance is designed specifically for small-business owners. To qualify for a policy, your agency has to meet certain criteria. While these vary slightly from one carrier to another, they usually include things like having a low risk profile, having relatively small business premises, and not requiring more than a year of Business Interruption Insurance. Many media companies easily fit the bill, so be sure to ask you agent whether you can save money by using a BOP (or check the box for Business Owner’s Policy as you’re applying online).

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Property Insurance

Just as your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy probably includes property insurance for your possessions, your Commercial Property Insurance offers protection for the office space, equipment, and furniture you use for your business.

One important thing to know: most homeowner’s and renter’s policies specifically exclude coverage for work-related property. So if you operate from a home office, you may benefit form a Commercial Property Insurance policy even if you already have homeowner’s insurance.

Pro tip: many media professionals can kill two birds with one stone by combining their Commercial Property and General Liability Insurance into a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP), usually for a slight discount.

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Errors and Omissions Insurance (Media Malpractice) for Advertising and Design Companies

Advertising and media companies face unique challenges in their work, which is meant to be seen and heard by the public. When something goes wrong – whether it’s an accusation of copyright infringement or failure to produce as many new leads as expected – an angry client may file a lawsuit.

When that happens, a type of media liability insurance called Errors & Omissions Insurance (also known as Media Malpractice) can save the day. E&O Insurance can cover the costs of a lawsuit over the quality or outcomes of your work.

The important thing to keep in mind about Errors & Omissions Insurance is that its protection is as much about your clients’ perception of your work as it is about what you actually deliver. If a campaign doesn’t perform as it was expected to, for example, a distressed client may look to recover whatever it paid you by suing. Or if you used images and slogans handed to you by a client without realizing the client didn’t have copyright permissions, you could find yourself named in a copyright infringement suit.

Either way – whether or not you actually did anything wrong – your media liability insurance can cover the legal cost of defending your business in court. Media liability is a big topic and E&O is an important kind of coverage for advertising and other media professionals. Read more about this coverage on our media liability insurance page.

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Cyber Liability / Data Breach Insurance for Advertisers, Marketers, and Designers

The average recovery costs of a small business data breach come to a whopping $38,000 [PDF], according to a recent study by security software company Kaspersky Labs. If you store client information (including names, email addresses, phone numbers, and payment info), your business is an attractive target. That’s doubly true if your security practices aren’t up to par. In fact, a 2012 analysis [PDF] found that nearly 80 percent of data breaches were crimes of opportunity – in other words, hackers see the digital equivalent of an open window and reach in to take what they can.

Luckily, media companies can prevent a data breach from turning into a financial disaster by investing in Cyber Liability Insurance (also sometimes called Data Breach Insurance). This policy offers funds to pay for notifying clients who have been affected, purchasing credit monitoring services for affected clients (as many state laws require), and may even cover an investigation to find out what went wrong and how to bolster your security.

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Workers' Compensation Insurance for Advertising Agencies and Graphic Designers

In most of the country, state laws require ad agencies and other media businesses to have Workers' Compensation Insurance (aka Workers' Comp or Workman's Comp) to cover the cost of work-related injuries or illnesses. Whether an employee develops a repetitive-stress injury like carpal tunnel syndrome or tumbles down the stairs and breaks their leg, Workers' Comp may cover their medical expenses and lost wages if they can't immediately return to work.

Workers' Comp can also include Employer's Liability Insurance, which may cover lawsuits when an employee sues you over a workplace accident (for example, if they think your negligence contributed to their injury).

Don’t have employees? Make sure to talk to your insurance agent about your Workers’ Comp exposures anyway. In some cases, using contractors for certain projects can open you to Workers’ Comp liability. That’s because your clients most likely don’t want to increase their Workers’ Comp exposure by working with you. To ensure that liability doesn’t fall on them, they may require you and all of your contractors or subcontractors to carry coverage. The legal details can get messy, so check your contracts and ask your agent if you’re not sure what your obligations are.

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Umbrella / Excess Liability Insurance for Ad and Marketing Companies

Commercial Umbrella Insurance offers a way to increase the coverage offered by existing media liability insurance policies. In most cases, a single Umbrella policy can provide additional coverage for multiple underlying policies, including General Liability, Hired and Non-Owned Auto, and Employer’s Liability Insurance.

If you’re looking for additional protection, Umbrella Insurance is often an inexpensive option. Coverage is available in increments of $1 million, often for as little as a few hundred dollars per year. One thing to keep in mind: many carriers require you to have certain limits on your underlying policies before they’ll write you an Umbrella policy. Your agent can provide you details and help you determine whether Umbrella coverage may help you manage your liability exposures.

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Commercial Auto Insurance for Advertisers, Marketers, and Designers

If you and your employees drive for work, Commercial Auto Insurance may protect your advertising or design agency from the cost of auto accidents. This coverage can pay for lawsuit costs, vehicle damage, medical bills, and vehicle theft and vandalism. There are two kinds of commercial coverage: Commercial Auto Insurance covers cars your business owns, while Hired and Non-Owned Auto coverage insures you against accidents involving rented or employee-owned vehicles.

Important note: most personal auto insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for damage and liability that happens while a vehicle is being used for work purposes. So even if you have excellent personal auto insurance, you may not be covered when you’re driving for work.

Protect Your Business by Using Contracts for All Media, Design, and Ad Work

While media liability insurance is an important part of protecting your business finances, it shouldn’t be your only line of defense against lawsuits. In fact, insurance is usually considered a last line of defense. Good risk management starts with solid contracts for all business relationships.

Contracts help clarify exactly what your responsibilities for advertising or design work will involve, which prevents miscommunications and protects you in the event of a lawsuit or dispute.

Contracts can also protect you from IP disputes regarding employee- and contractor-created work. Work-for-hire agreements clarify that your business owns the copyright to work your contractors or employees create.

Watch Out for Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

Even a small copyright dispute can cost $5,000 to $10,000, so ad agencies and graphic designers should be especially careful to avoid any infringement. Be sure to check out "Copyright Issues for Freelance Designers" and other copyright infringement risk management tips in our Business Center.

Grab-n-Go Information

Free Media Liability eBook
Managing Media Liability - How to Protect Your Business from Your Clients' Bad Judgment
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