I work on various robotics projects and other programming as a hobby. Often these involve releasing source code to either help others or as a part of free guides. I’ve also written a couple free apps I would like to publish on Google Play. My concern is that, even though all of the code/apps have disclaimers, someone will misuse them (possibly injure themselves) and file some type of lawsuit against me. None of this is for a business or intended to make money, nor does it ever involve anything safety critical. Is there a type of insurance – for individuals, not businesses – that would cover court costs/judgements in the rare event someone sues?

  1. 37376 POINTS
    David G. Pipes, CLU®, RICP®
    Business Development Officer, T.D. McNeil Insurance Services, Fresno, California
    You will not find coverage for business related liability in your homeowner’s policy, even if you work from your home. This is a very technical kind of risk and would probably best be handled by a specialty company. The risk, however, is general liability, or more specifically product liability. Policies usually restrict losses to those involving personal injury or property damage. Coverage does not necessarily extend to a program that simply doesn’t perform as promised.
    Answered on May 18, 2015
  2. 2777 POINTS
    Terry A. McCarthy, CLU, ChFC
    President, Insurance Associates Agency Inc., West Chester, OH
    With all due respect to the answer given by the first insurance professional to answer this question, there are two different coverage angles to take into account. Let's tackle the first issue and that is of the professional or product liability. A homeowner policy will not extend itself to cover the liability that arises our of the professional services to write software or machine code that is either given away or incorporated into a commercial product offered to others. In the event of a loss of lawsuit I don't think you will find coverage and I think if a claim were to be presented a "reservation of rights" letter will be issued upon notification of a claim so the carrier can explore the issue prior to rejecting the loss as "professional liability" that is not covered in a liability section of a home insurance policy. On the other hand, many companies permit the use of the home for office related tasks and the liability exposure for pedestrian traffic onto the property and/or into the house will probably be covered when the avocation is merely a hobby. Usually the presence of this additional exposures are required to be admitted to the carrier. That said, all claims issues are ultimately compared against coverage terms and language and no one should rely on this general advice as anything other than a reminder to consult with your insurance agent for the best answer. And finally, I am aware of no coverage that is available for the hobby coder to add to a home insurance policy. It would be interesting to know if you actually work in the computer software business in your day to day paid work.
    Answered on July 9, 2015
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