All writers face the risk of legal threats, but writing about real people—living or dead—creates special risks that can result in costly damages and legal fees for authors. It’s essential for writers working with sensitive material about real people to take the proper steps to protect themselves.
Three Main Types of Media Liability Risk
There are three main legal causes of action that writers need to know about: defamation, public disclosure of private facts, and misappropriation of name or likeness. Liability for defamation arises when a writer makes a false statement about a person or entity that injures their reputation. Liability for public disclosure of private facts arises when a writer discloses information that is neither generally known nor newsworthy about a real person and that a reasonable person would find offensive. Misappropriation claims arise when a writer, without consent, exploits the name or other legally-protected attribute of a real person.
If a piece of writing gives rise to a substantial risk of liability, to mitigate that risk the Authors Guild recommends that writers secure signed releases from named persons or entities. We also recommend that all writers purchase media liability insurance for further protection from lawsuits brought against them.
Media Liability Insurance Application and Discount Information
The Authors Guild is excited to partner with AXIS Insurance and AmWINS Group, Inc. to provide exclusive WriteInsure Media Liability to its members.
Members of the Authors Guild are eligible to join a specially-negotiated group plan and receive media liability insurance through AXIS PRO, one of the world’s leading Underwriters of media liability insurance.
Members interested in applying for coverage must fully complete the online application form and send a final electronic version of their manuscript or other submission for which they are seeking to insure. Please keep in mind that the evaluation period can last between 10-14 business days for a simple submission, but up to 4-6 weeks for more complex submissions.
Please note: You will likely need to have your manuscript vetted before you receive a quote, and that this can cost $2500 or more.
If you are a member, log in to download and submit the AXIS application form or contact us for more information.
Coverage is available under the WriteInsure program for book authorship, freelance writing (including writing on blogs owned by others), and blogs that you own and operate. The insurance covers claims of libel, invasion of privacy, copyright or trademark infringement, plagiarism, errors and omissions, and other related risks. AXIS PRO offers four levels of coverage through WriteInsure, ranging from $100,000 per claim (with an aggregate payment limit of $300,000) to $1,000,000 per claim (with an aggregate payment limit of $1,000,000). Higher limits are available. The program covers legal expenses incurred in defending a claim and any monetary damages due to judgments or settlements you may be required to pay. The “self-insured retention” (similar to a deductible) ranges from $2,500 to $5,000, or higher depending on the amount of coverage you purchase. For many authors, this proves to be a significant discount over what they might pay outside the group plan.
The Authors Guild receives no compensation through its agreement with AXIS PRO and can neither guarantee that a policy will be offered to every applicant nor guarantee at what price a policy may be offered. Each insured member is individually underwritten by AXIS.
You must be a member in good standing to take advantage of this offer.