Lee van der Voo tells Romenesko readers: I was just informed by State Farm here in Oregon, where I’m an independent investigative journalist that they are dumping my office rental policy because of the kind of journalism I do. I asked whether if I were to write food reviews or puff pieces about bridal gowns they would insure me, and I was told yes, “just no controversial journalism.”
My landlord requires I have property insurance on the office I use for work, and I went to State Farm a couple weeks ago because I needed a new policy and I do all my other business with them. I own a house and insure it through State Farm, along with the three cars I’ve owned over the last 12 years. They pre-approved the rental policy and I paid for it. But apparently a State Farm underwriter decided today that I’m out, based on a visit to my web site. They say they can’t separate the property insurance I need from any potential liability issues that could arise.
The real pickle is this leaves me with two extremely crappy options: I can either withdraw the coverage myself and go without property insurance and risk losing my office, or I can continue coverage for 45 days – which State Farm is now obligated to provide me by law – but in exchange I will get an official letter of rejection that I’ll have to carry henceforth from one insurer to the next.
I am more than a little worried about what this means for my office security, and for indie journalism. It’s hard enough to get liability coverage – a good number of bloggers and freelancers already work without it – but if meaningful, probing, and thought-provoking news coverage can clean a freelancer out of property insurance, then investigative journalism just got a little harder.
By: Jim Romenesko.com