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Managing your firm’s online presence – how and why this can affect your insurance cover

January 2024

Today’s world is constantly evolving with new and emerging risks popping up all over the place. More sophisticated cyber-attacks, creative internal frauds, cohesion and dishonesty at surprising levels. As a result, it is not surprising that some underwriters look beyond the proposal form for information on your firm, including your website, social media channels, and online reviews.

It’s important to regularly check your online presence and to manage it accordingly. Here are some quick tips on what to be aware of and actions your firm should take to stay ahead.

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Google reviews – how often do you check?

Article 10 of the Human Rights Act states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression; a principle that supports the freedom of an individual to articulate their opinions without legal sanction. Within today’s technological driven world and social media outlets, this fundamental right can, and does, have far reaching consequences.

As expected, Law firms can receive both positive and negative reviews online, be that on Google or other review sites. It is important that you are aware of what people are saying about your firm, and for you to respond appropriately where necessary. Whether that response is public or private is a matter for you to decide. However, if the post relates to a live professional negligence allegation against the firm, make sure that you speak to your insurer’s claims handlers before posting anything in response. It is natural to want to defend your position but agreeing a strategy with your insurer first is prudent. Some firms provide a full response online and offer an email address to contact should the client want to discuss the issue further. This demonstrates a proactive approach, however, going into detail is not always appropriate and could potentially lead to further criticisms relating to breach of confidentiality. Be mindful of any action taken.

The most robust form of action would be to acknowledge any adverse online comments in your PII submission and advise what you are doing about it. Indeed, some of the criticisms could lead to a claim for professional negligence and therefore needs to be reported as a circumstance in accordance with policy terms and conditions. Some underwriters have been known to cross check negative Google reviews against a firm’s claims record to ascertain whether the matter has been reported to insurers. If not, we have seen this added as a subjectivity on the renewal terms received.

Does your website accurately reflect what your firm does?

A firm’s website is the perfect opportunity to promote its services and make a good impression. The more information provided the better but, like with everything, there needs to be a balance. If you oversell your firm, telling the reader that you can do anything and everything, this will not be viewed favourably by insurers. It is expected for the offering on the website to match what is declared in the areas of practice on your proposal form. Consistency is key.

If you have recently developed your website to include areas that you are venturing into and trying to generate work, make sure to include additional information with the proposal form explaining the plans, who will be doing the work, their experience, etc. Google the firm from time to time and ensure your website is updated as and when necessary.

Have policies in place

Have strict policies in place to control the use of social media, explicitly detailing what can and cannot be posted. Make sure that these policies include how you will monitor activity and manage reviews. The last thing you want is someone’s personal views to reflect badly on the firm. 

As with all your other policies, these need to be communicated to every member of staff and strictly followed.

We’re here to help

If you would like to discuss any points covered in this article, or anything connected to your PII policy, please get in touch.

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