A high-end insurance company in the United Kingdom is now offering a “troll insurance” policy designed to cover expenses that result from being cyberbullied, as well as offering counseling and teams of online sleuths to track down anonymous trolls and bring them to justice.
While Chubb Insurance in Britain is not the first to offer troll-related insurance – AIG’s Lexington Insurance Company holds that distinction with a policy protecting parents of would-be trolls from lawsuits – this policy is the first to offer policies to the victims, the Financial Times reports.
Chubb's clients may claim up to $76,000 in expenses for counseling, moving home from college, and work leave. In extreme cases the policies also offer the service of a team to repair an online reputation, and a cyber team equipped to track down anonymous trolls.
"We see insurance as helping our clients get back to how they were before the incident occurred – whether it's an incident that affects their home or as a person," Tara Parchment, Chubb's UK and Ireland private clients manager, told the Telegraph.
"So we still help to restore homes, cars and belongings that have suffered physical harm or damage," she said. "But increasingly it's about the person and how they cope."
A 2014 Lexington Innovation Report concluded that, “At least 25 percent of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied — and that number is growing. With this rise in cyberbullying has come a significant increase in cyberbullying cases in federal and state courts.”
Sameer Hinduja, professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center says in an interview, “What our research is showing with kids and young adults is that while cyberbullying isn’t increasing but it isn’t decreasing either. That’s the problem. It’s hanging in there.”
Dr. Hinduja notes that Chubb's intended clients are wealthy families, but he questions the effectiveness of such policies. "I’m not sure it’s really going to be that valuable to most people," he says. "Maybe perhaps nominally by offering a perceived measure of protection, but insurance companies can’t possibly insure against every claim of 'cyberbullying' because what that term constitutes is often foggy.”
Hinduja's organization, he says, gets “large number of requests" from adults saying they have been attacked online. "We definitely try to reach out to those sites and pass along the screenshots we take to try and get those companies to get those posts or accounts taken down.”
“We advise them to contact an attorney, but many can’t afford it – and if they can’t afford that then they most likely can’t afford this type of insurance,” Hinduja says.
Online bullying may be virtual in nature, but the suffering can be very real, says Hinduja. “Many times," he says, "those most traumatized are those whose social sphere is completely online and when someone is mean to them there, that’s it devastates their whole world.”
As all of us move deeper and deeper into social media, Hinduja says, “we’re constantly comparing our lives with the highlight reels of everyone else’s and so maybe that sets us out to feel bad about ourselves and our lives, and so we are already in a vulnerable position.”
“As such, when you’re harassed and mistreated there, perhaps it affects you more deeply because you are unfortunately positioned vulnerably already in a mindset of falling short, or not measuring up, or scarity, or lack.,” Hinduja says.
“I want to see kids, and even adults, to work on becoming the best version of themselves. Don’t subject yourself to all this comparison and jockeying for likes and comments. Try not to always be validated and affirmed by everybody else’s opinion because when you give them the power to validate you, you have also given them the power to invalidate you.”