Businesses increasingly collaborate with social media influencers to promote their brand and connect with their online audience, but such relationships can put a company’s reputation on the line and create liability risks.

Liabilities can arise in areas such as defamation and libel, securities laws violations, copyright and trademark infringement, and around information protection and disclosure rules, experts say.

Existing insurance policies such as media liability, commercial general liability, directors and officers liability, and cyber liability may respond to brand/influencer liabilities, but there can be gray areas, experts say.

If a social media influencer makes disparaging comments about another company’s product, that might be actionable as a tort, said Benjamin Tievsky, an Insurance Recovery & Advisory counsel at Pillsbury in New York. Generally, such claims would be covered under the commercial general liability policy’s personal and advertising injury section, he said.

Companies can mitigate the risks of engaging influencers by ensuring that the terms of any contract specify that the influencer carries their own liability insurance. The cover should be provided on a primary and non-contributory basis, so that the influencer’s policy is triggered first in the event of a claim, Tievsky said.