Knowledge Center

Knowledge Center Items Podcast Episode 46

Are Your Clients Actually Protected From What They Say Online?

Published on

Every business has a media exposure if they realize it or not.

When you publish content online, there's liability surrounding all the details of those media assets.

That's where business owners have a great deal of responsibility securing the proper permissions for that content.

This is a problem that increases every day as more and more business owners look to new digital methods of communication.

Sarah Lamberg, Underwriting Manager and U.S. Media Product Lead at Beazley, talks about all the ways your client's digital communications could backfire.

For more Change Insurance episodes, click here.

Full Episode Transcript

Joey Giangola: Sarah Lamberg, how are you doing today?

Sarah Lamberg: I'm good. How are you, Joey?

Joey Giangola: I'm doing all right, Sarah. I'm doing all right. I need to ask this question first, before we really get into anything too serious, but I'm curious, is there something that, maybe when you were growing up, even now, is there something that's mostly insignificant in terms of value and overall meaning in your life, but if it gets destroyed, really in any way, shape or form, even just slightly crinkled or bent, is there something that really freaked you out? Like, "Man, I can not let this thing get broken or destroyed or even ripped a little bit."

Sarah Lamberg: That is just a very deep question to start out with. I actually don't have a good answer to that. I'm just looking around the room here. I would say I don't have an answer to that, that's what I would say. I would say there's a lot of intangible things. I think, because we're in the digital age, a lot of things are stored on my phone now. So I would just say a lot of my photos, if those got destroyed I would just be devastated. Just the media that's consuming my phone these days is just out of control. I think I have like 50,000 pictures on my phone. If any of those got destroyed, "digitally bent", I would be very distraught over that.

Joey Giangola: Well, I think it's maybe a good gauge on your OCD level check as far as nothing little bothers you. For me, I was going to go the route of a DVD case or a CD case because we used to have those things, and if the plastic got ripped or the cover got taken out and it got messed up, I just, I couldn't handle it. I just didn't like it. I didn't think it was really possible until I had kids and that's happened all the time, so it's one of those things you had to kind of get used to.

But, I guess, and more seriously speaking, one of the things that I kind of wanted to talk about is the world of media that isn't physical anymore, as you mentioned, photos being digital. More and more media is becoming digital and can possibly damage things on a level that we have never, maybe been accustomed to in the hands of, possibly, we'll say, amateurs. What does that landscape look like? How did you even get interested in this? I think there's a lot of agents that have really very little knowledge as to the overall impact that it could have.

Sarah Lamberg: Yeah. I mean, the digital media space, it has really grown in the past several years. And I think it's grown even faster with the COVID environment and everyone being kind of behind their own doors at home and trying to find ways to keep themselves busy. And obviously a lot of brands are trying to find more creative ways to reach their audiences. There are not tangible ways of disseminating their content. For me, a little bit of background, just to kind of give you some context. I was a media major in college, and I started out in insurance, not thinking I'd be in insurance and I've been in insurance for about 17, almost 18, years now. I've always had a passion for media, always had a passion for acting and kind of taken my passion and channeled it through insurance.

But like you said, the evolution of the digital space, everybody's relying on reaching their audiences in a more meaningful way. By doing that, they're taking the route via the web or via a podcast or via social media influencers on Instagram and Facebook and all the other social media outlets. LinkedIn has been super popular for professionals to disseminate content. So it's definitely been an interesting and unique fast-tracked industry. We're seeing media being disseminated in ways you've really never seen. Technology is a big driving force behind dissemination of content. And so, I think, there's a lot of intricacies that are going on right now as a lot of brands are starting to build more brand loyalty and just trying to reach the most population, the most bang for your buck.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. I'm kind of curious where the awareness level is for this particular set of risks that, I guess, are involved with that. Because you have one, the big time influencers probably don't consider this as a thing that's the first thing they wake up to do on their checklist, right? They have other things to do that are much more lavish and more, we'll say, extravagant, possibly. And then you have companies and brands that don't even really understand how to one, grade a YouTube channel in a lot of cases, let alone why they need to protect against what they might say on there. What are the conversations that go around the people that are looking for this product? How is it even brought to their attention? And do you think enough of the right people know that they should be having this to kind of protect them?

Sarah Lamberg: Yeah. I mean, that's a good question. A lot of the influencers that you're seeing, there definitely is a huge element of celebrity social media influencing. And obviously those individuals that have a very deep pocket do probably have a risk management team that kind of can help navigate their exposures around that area of influencing on behalf of brands. But when it comes down to an individual like myself who might not have as deep of pocket as the likes of Kim Kardashian and other celebrities, there is a true exposure here for individuals that are just kind of playing around in the social media influencing space. There's definitely some risks involved if you're posting content that you don't have licenses to post, that you're saying stuff about a brand that might be defamatory. There's definitely some real exposure to individuals that are looking to just kind of fill their time by promoting a brand that they might like just on the side. There's definitely exposure to a single individual in the way that they post and just the content that they post around various brands that they might really enjoy.

Joey Giangola: Yeah. I mean, as far as it goes, what kind of conversations, I guess, are you having with agents that are coming to you with risks? Is it everything from the local Mom & Pop shop that is starting to branch out? And what are they trying to ensure? Are they having those conversations with those smaller clients and then obviously working your way all the way up the ladder that, I guess, maybe it becomes obvious. But what are the things that you're telling agents in terms of like, "Hey, listen, really a lot more people than you maybe realize, I'm guessing here, might need this coverage. If they're communicating on the internet in some way, shape or form, this is something you at least want to have a conversation about"?

Sarah Lamberg: Yeah. Absolutely. I work in the SME space. This is a really good question. For us, the SME space is really risks that are under 35 million in the client's revenue. We see startups every day, all the way up. And Beasley obviously writes much larger clients, but I tend to focus on the smaller to midsize enterprise business. Really, the conversation is unique because media is not necessarily traditionally been part of the conversation in insurance purchasing. If by chance a small organization is trying to find a unique way to promote their brand, to put content out there in a way that maybe they might be utilizing third-party content in order to develop their brand, there's unique exposures around that. It definitely needs to be talked about in terms of utilizing third-party content to promote your own brand or using individuals, freelance writers, outside contractors, to kind of provide the content in order for them to put out a holistic strategy around their brand online, or in paper, because there obviously is still traditional newspapers out there where Mom & Pop shops are still trying to advertise.

So, just because a small shop might be utilizing an independent contractor to provide that content that doesn't necessarily alleviate our insured's liability when they are disseminating the content, there has to be kind of agreements in place, making sure that the people who are supplying the content are doing their own due diligence because at the end of the day, when you see a small Mom & Pop shop out there disseminating content, if they're including images and logos, et cetera, that they might not have received licenses for and consent to utilize, that Mom & Pop shop is going to be at the forefront of the litigation. There's a lot of cooks in the kitchen, if you will, when it comes to putting together a big media campaign, because there are various channels in order to get that content, from just a single individual or you can get it from a source online where it might be just third-party content that you can source online.

It's definitely a very intricate process when you're looking at the dissemination of media, because it's not just that particular shop creating something. They're utilizing various channels in order to bring all the content together.

Joey Giangola: So, you're saying that Google images is not the right place to go to save an image and then upload it to my website? That's probably not a good idea?

Sarah Lamberg: It's definitely a source of getting your content, but definitely not the most safe way to do it from an insurance perspective, from our end.

Joey Giangola: That's fascinating because even, I'm sure your parents, my parents, the idea of them, people and they're running businesses that have been around a while, the idea of copyright and licensed material is kind of lost on them at when it comes to the internet in a lot of cases as people stream more and more family events and they realize, "Oh, I can't play this music in the background." I think that's the similar sort of experience that businesses have of saying like, "If this is copyrighted material, you need to have proper licenses for it." How many times have you run into that being an issue? I guess, maybe, what's a common claim that you see that businesses do tend to get tripped up on?

Sarah Lamberg: Yeah, absolutely. Utilizing music in an advertisement that you might not have gotten a license for, that is a huge exposure. Obviously, just words on the internet in a digital campaign is not always the most engaging. You're going to utilize music. You're going to utilize logos and all sorts of images to make the campaign as engaging as possible. Music is definitely, plays a part in advertising in all forms and fashion. So, not obtaining licenses to utilize music or images, that is definitely one of the main areas of exposure that a brand faces when they're putting out any sort of content on the internet. And you do see claims around that, improper licensing. You got the license to utilize it in this realm, but not that realm. And therefore, we're going to come after you in that regard.

There's so much content out there and there's so much copyrighted content out there that businesses do need to make sure that they are adequately protected, not from an insurance perspective, but from a risk-management perspective that you have somebody that's guiding you, perhaps an IP law firm, to really make sure that you are getting the appropriate licensing for any type of content, not necessarily just music.

Joey Giangola: I got to ask this question just because, I mean, I'm sure you got to have at least some interesting story. On the other side of that, what's one of the craziest sort of claims that you've seen where things have gotten high level where you wouldn't think it would be an issue? What's kind of an extreme example of that [inaudible]?

Sarah Lamberg: Well, we just actually launched the product in the SME space in June of last year. So luckily we haven't seen a ton of activity yet, but we launched this product on the backs of our London media team. So we are really an extension of the London media family. The claims really, we do write some really well-known big business. There's definitely been some activity that we've seen. I would say, just defamation, celebrity defamation. There's been some activity. Those are big-dollar claims, obviously. When you defame a celebrity, it can get bad because they had the forethought to really go out and litigate that type of claim, and they're not going to stop until it's settled in their favor because they earn the limelight and they don't want their reputation to be tarnished. So I would say, while we don't focus on celebrity exposure in the main here in the US, we do tend to write that overseas in London, but that is definitely an exposure that can be pretty severe and can get pretty crazy. Yeah. I hope that answers your question.

Joey Giangola: Yeah, it definitely does. The other thing, I've asked this question to a couple of different insurance executives, just from what do they think should be covered in the future? I got to ask you this is, in terms of reputation management for, we'll say, the average person, is this something that would fit? Or is there a variation of this down the road? Because people are, it seems, getting in trouble every day for a tweet or for something or other that they've said that has lasting ramifications on their professional career. Is that something that would be covered under this? Or is that something that you think might be an iteration down the road?

Sarah Lamberg: I think it might be an iteration down the road, absolutely. I mean, there's definitely an element of reputational management, especially as you grow and as you get more well-known in whatever industry you're serving. I do think that part of insurance is managing reputation when it does come third-party litigation. We do have a lot of products here at Beasley that do help manage that reputational damage. It's not necessarily something that is at the forefront of media liability insurance, but it's definitely an element of exposure there because you have a brand that puts out content that defamed somebody that's pretty well-known. And then that firm is in the news because they've just defamed someone that's better known in the industry. That can definitely bring down that firm's reputation. And so, making sure that they're aware of that really, it goes hand in hand with getting consent, getting licenses, making sure you have proper risk management or using the likeness or images of a certain individual. There's definitely exposure to reputation management. I think that that will evolve over time.

Joey Giangola: All right, Sarah. If you had to put together a quick little checklist for agents to sort of run through when they're having this conversation, or just going to give them a little checkup with their clients as they're renewing policies, is there something that you would have them go through just to evaluate their overall need or necessity for this?

Sarah Lamberg: Yeah, I definitely think that there's some sort of a checklist that you can use. I think that making sure that... First of all, you have to understand that whatever business that you are, you're going to have a media exposure. Whether or not you're a media company, you have a media exposure. So for example, if tomorrow I create a business to sell shoelaces and I put together this amazing website and I'm using images and content to promote my shoelace online retail website, there's absolutely exposure there. Anything, it doesn't matter who you are, if you're putting out content, you have an exposure. So just because your sole focus is not in a media space, does not mean that you don't have media exposure. So I would say, if you look at a client, any content they're disseminating: it could be on paper, it could be online, it could be in on a social media website. Just because you're posting it on LinkedIn or Instagram or Facebook, does not alleviate you of your own liabilities. That's just a source for you to disseminate your brand.

Really talking about the fact that it's not just a media business that has the exposure. If you are disseminating content, you have an exposure. If you are obtaining content from another source, you need to make sure that you have proper licenses. If you're using images, you need to make sure you have the proper license. If you're using music, you need to make sure you have the proper license. Writing things up, typing things up, just kind of a quick summary of what your operation is in terms of what you're trying to sell and what the message you're trying to get across about your product. If you're talking negatively about another brand, a competing brand, that's media exposure, and you can be brought in against your competition defaming that other brand. I would say, if you are a business and you disseminate content in any way, you have an exposure, whether you realize it or not.

Joey Giangola: All right, Sarah. I've got three more questions for you. First one, very simply, what's one thing that you hope you never forget?

Sarah Lamberg: In the insurance space or in life?

Joey Giangola: There are no rules here, so you can go in any which direction you want.

Sarah Lamberg: I would say, one thing I always want to keep in mind, and never forget, is to always have fun with what I do. I always try and keep it lighthearted because I think that that makes things more enjoyable. And I never try and take myself too seriously. And I always try and keep in mind that I have plenty of room for growth and to not shy away from other people's constructive criticism. I think that that's one thing that I've really realized about myself, especially over the last several months as we've kind of been here in this lockdown state. Never take things too seriously because there's always something bigger and worse happening out there than what you're kind of dealing with in the moment.

Joey Giangola: All right, Sarah. Now, on the other side of that, what's one thing you still have yet to learn?

Sarah Lamberg: I have so much growth. Being a better active listener. I think it's something that I really am definitely working on that. I am a very chatty individual. And so, I've definitely taken courses. I'm doing my own personal work in making sure that I'm an active listener, I'm a good listener. Because there's a lot of good ideas and things that I have to say, but I know that other people do as well. I think that just active listening is something that I'm really striving towards. I feel like I'm making some good progress, but I know I have a ways to go. Just from a management perspective, I am a leader here at Beasley, really bringing our team into acceleration mode and really helping the newer generation of insurance professionals thrive and navigate this industry and making sure that they are getting the opportunities that they need because this industry is definitely evolving in a very unique way. And there's a lot of drive that we have here at Beasley with more of our young professionals. And so just kind of taking that and moving that forward.

Joey Giangola: All right, Sarah, last question. If I were to hand you a magic wand of sorts to kind of reshape, change, alter insurance in any way that you saw fit, what is that thing? Where is it going? And what are you doing?

Sarah Lamberg: I would say the one thing that I would love to have is better understanding of the value that carriers bring to the table, particularly Beasley. We pride ourselves, not only on our products and our service, but continued risk management and also evolving what we offer and really listening to our clients and being a stable carrier. Stability in the market is huge.

So, I think the thing that I would want you to give me with my magic wand is really an eye-opening experience for a lot of our SME insured, that hopping from carrier to carrier might not be the best solution year after year. Staying with a carrier that's really been in this space for quite some time and really kind of understands where it's going. I think that, oftentimes, businesses lose sight of that because they're just not used to this type of insurance. It's definitely a unique type of insurance that we sell here at Beasley. It's not your typical life or property insurance. Media, cyber, all sorts of things that we offer, is definitely a specialist coverage. And so, really having our insureds understand the value of what we bring. We're not just providing a promise to pay. We're providing many solutions that go all around with that. I think that's kind of what I would want my magic wand to give me.

Joey Giangola: Sarah, this has been fantastic. I'm going to leave it right there. We're done.

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