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Writing Books/Personal Injury Liab for Writers


I am retired & write Short Stories/ Children's Book for pleasure/hobby. If I get paid anything its in subscriptions, occassionally $5-50/ not much more than a few hundred a yr at best, if any. Have a Homeowners Policy and an Umbrella Policy than covers Personal Injury.  What does a hobby writter need , if any liability coverage & if so do you know if any coverage is afforded under either policy.

Thjanks for any info on this subject.

Dear Bill,
Thank you for your question. If you do have liability insurance on your homeowners policy, my advice as a fellow homeowner is - don't try to use it unless you really find yourself in hot water. I've heard that the way the insurance industry is these days, you can get your homeowner's policy cancelled just by inquiring about a claim. Once you have two claims, they can refuse to renew your policy. Our elected officials are trying to get legislation passed to protect homeowners, but until that goes through, beware of trying to make any claim on your homeowners insurance.
Most writers don't have liability insurnce, but simply depend on knowing the laws and avoiding subjects that could cause a libel problem. Sometimes publishers have insurance, but not always. If you have any questions, I believe Writers Digest publishes a writer's legal handbook. If you ever feel that you're going into a gray area, consult your publisher or an attorney before you publish.
I wrote a book criticizing the religious cult known as Hare Krishna and the publisher was very aware of the laws and made sure my book was kept within the legal limits. One good weapon is to have tons of documentation. I had more than 1,000 documents, such as news clippings, interviews, internal documents, court documents, etc. Plus, I collected the headlines and dates of every story published on the group in The New York Times. My publisher decided to limit our bibliography only to documents I quoted directly. The other 900 or so documents remain in a file box at the bottom of my closet, but the publisher was glad I have them.
The general rule of thumb is that you can say what you want about a public figure. But read a good book on the subject for more specifics.
I hope this helps,

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Nori J. Muster


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