E&O carriers are concerned about emerging issues with agency websites, according to industry veterans Joyce Sigler, account executive and systems administrator at Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency, in Fairlawn, Ohio, and Angela Ford, IIAT’s continuous improvement director.
In a presentation at the ACT fall meeting, Sigler and Ford said statements made on agency websites and social media posts are fodder for plaintiffs’ lawyers, depending on how a particular state’s laws view the concept of “marketing” online.
And it’s not just current online information and statements that can be trouble. It’s what you may have said years ago.
Lawyers can pull information off an internet archive, such as the Wayback Machine, which retrieves assertions agents have made to long-term clients on earlier versions of websites. “Words such as ‘expert’ are litigious,” said Sigler. Or, “We check with you always to be sure you get a great deal.”
“It’s better to use, ‘I advise,'” Sigler said.
The speakers urged agents to use technology to minimize litigious words. Audit the website and add a disclaimer. Double-check your promises on social media. Have a written social media plan and guidelines, and make employees aware of the E&O risk.
In an impromptu survey of the ACT meeting audience via the “Poll Everywhere” app, 62% of respondents said they are using technology to cover their E&O concerns. Another 17% were not, and 21% weren’t sure.