The term defamation has gotten quite a bit of action lately. With the insane, notoriety that came with one of the most public trials since O.J. Simpson, the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial made waves across social media. Thanks to this trial being publicized live from the court room, so many people got a rare glance into the personal lives of the rich and famous…the good, the bad, and the ugly. With this trial, the whole premise revolved around Johnny Depp’s claims to defamation–the act of communicating false statements to others about a person that injures the person’s reputation. If a defamatory statement is written down or recorded, it is libel; if it was spoken out loud, it is called slander. Ultimately, the jury awarded Johnny Depp $15 million in damages (which will be reduced to 10.5 million per state law,) while also awarding Amber Heard $2 million in damages for her counterclaims. This is a hefty bill, not to mention all the legal fees that both parties accumulated.
The question on everyone’s mind is how will Amber pay for this? Would you be surprised to know that her homeowner’s insurance policy was helping?
When you purchase homeowner’s insurance, I’m sure the last thing you think about it covering would be a high stakes court case between two celebrities, but that’s where you could be wrong. The common misconception is that home insurance policies just pay to rebuild your home in the event of a covered catastrophe. The truth is it does so much more! Insurance also provides coverage to cover your butt from other people. When I was in elementary school, a neighbor boy was jumping on our trampoline and broke his foot. My parents’ homeowner’s insurance paid liability coverage for his medical care. That is just one part of liability. Liability can also pay to defend you. Let’s say that the neighbor boy ended up suing my parents for his injury—their homeowner’s insurance also would’ve defended them against the lawsuit as long as how his injury happened wasn’t found to be intentional or fraud.
…But how does this apply to Amber Heard? Amber Heard didn’t accidently physically injure someone. The now guilty verdict is that it was done in writing and verbally. The question remaining is how does her policy have coverage for that? While most policies don’t specifically provide coverage for this unless added, this is coverage that can be added. Personal Injury Coverage protects you if you are sued for libel (written statements) and slander (an oral statement.) This is so crucial in the world we live in now. Think of all the things you see on Facebook that might be considered libel—especially during election season. Before you go and get in a fight on the internet, there’s a few things you should know.
Is Personal Injury Coverage automatically included on my homeowner’s insurance policy? Depending on the insurance company and the agency that is doing your quoting, this coverage is typically not always included. Since social media changed the way we communicate, it is a standard practice at ECI insurance to always include it, but all too often, we see people that don’t have this coverage. Personal Injury coverage, if not automatically included, must be specifically added. Make sure and ask your agent if this applies to you.
Who is covered under your Home Insurance and Personal Injury coverage? Every policy will define who is an insured. In most cases on your personal policy, all covered members of the “household” are considered “insureds.” For the Amber Heard case, she was the policy holder, so she of course was an insured under her policy.
How did Personal Injury coverage protect Amber Heard? It’s important to understand that she had to have coverage before the “claim” which in this event was the moment she received the lawsuit. If her policy put in place after she was served, Traveler’s insurance company would have no duty to defend her. Under the Personal Injury coverage, the insurance company would provide legal assistance. Typically, when it comes to legal suits, these things can drag on for years as we saw transpire in this case. This can usually cost A LOT of money and a lot of resources as legal teams are on full defense mode. There is a caveat in every policy though…insurance will not cover intentional acts or fraud. This is the big question on everyone’s mind now that the court has found her guilty. The question remains whether she intentionally misled the insurance company on the cases. If they find this to be true, they could deny coverage and she could ultimately be responsible for not only the judgement amount, but also all legal fees incurred.
Written by: Avery Moore
Read more Blog posts by Avery Moore