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03-10-2014 3:51:36

Insurance policies for TV & film freelancers

Tom Pammenter|Freelance, Industry

If you’re a TV or film freelancer, it’s a good idea to consider investing in at least one of the various employment-based insurance policies that are available.

This is now a somewhat less complex and expensive area of freelancers’ finances than it once was. Various policies are available that are designed to cover you in a range of situations, including in the event of an accident at work or a claim against you for negligence.

While production companies, facilities houses and broadcasters will have their own public liability policy, they’re unlikely to cover you in your capacity as a freelancer (nor will they cover your equipment).

Here’s a summary of some of the major insurance policies most frequently taken out by freelancers in the broadcast industry:

Professional indemnity insurance

Having your own professional indemnity insurance, the most popular policy for media freelancers, shows employers that you’re professional in every sense and can also help your efforts to get more bookings.

It covers you against work-based mistakes – which may well be rare but having a policy such as this provides peace of mind.

Professional indemnity policies are designed to cover the cost of defending claims made against you and also any damages that may arise as a result of such claims, which can be brought should a client be found to have suffered a financial loss as a result of something you did or did not do. A company may even bring an action if they are merely dissatisfied.

Public Liability insurance

These types of insurance are also popular among freelancers within the broadcast industry.

Examples where these might come into play would include a shoot in a busy location where cables are running across a public right of way. Should a member of the public trip on one of those cables and become injured, the public liability insurance would then protect you should an action be brought by that member of the public for injury to themselves and/or damage to their property.

This type of policy will also cover you should you cause loss or damage to someone else’s property, such as spilling a drink over a mixing desk, editing equipment or some other technical equipment.

Personal Insurance

Personal insurance is often advised to those wishing to guard against losing earnings through illness or injury which prevents them from working. Would you be able to cover your bills should you be off work for a period of weeks or months?

Equipment insurance

There are several specialist TV and film insurance companies who provide cover for kit.

The high cost of replacing broadcast-standard equipment that’s been damaged, lost or stolen makes this kind of cover advisable, which can be bought on single-day basis (useful if you’re hiring kit) or as an annual policy (a great alternative if you own your own equipment).

Not having kit insurance when you need it could even stifle your successful freelance career, should you be faced with crippling costs or letting down an important client.

Tax & VAT insurance

It’s becoming increasingly common for media freelancers to invest in this type of policy which protects you in the event of an investigation by the taxman. IR35, the legislation designed to tax ‘disguised employment’ and s660, which is aimed at addressing ‘income shifting’, bring their own complications from which many people now seek protection. (Investigations into VAT payments, PAYE, NIC and P11D, the expenses and benefits form, also come under the cover provided by this type of insurance).

As with all insurance, the question to ask yourself is how much do you need the cover? You could spend unlimited amounts on all sorts of insurance but is it all essential or necessary?

Our final piece of advice? Speak to an insurance professional about a policy that’s right for you.

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