What type of cover do you need?
There are many different types of insurance cover. Depending on your situation and the work you’re undertaking, you might need one, several, or all of these at different times, in different policies and at different stages of your career.
Personal medical and travel insurance
- Travel: as with any international travel, be it going on holiday or for work, losing passports and documents or missing flight connections can occur, so an element of this cover is applicable if you are travelling from your home country.
- Medical: make sure that your insurance policy covers injuries sustained whilst working. Medical insurance is especially important for those working abroad – if you’re travelling for work and you need medical attention, hospital bills, medication, food and emergency transport will all add up frighteningly quickly. Stay away from taking out basic holiday insurance – if something goes wrong and your provider realises that you are not on holiday, you simply won’t be covered.
- If you are working abroad, having some kind of emergency response on your policy is incredibly important. It means that you can be evacuated to the nearest hospital for treatment if you are injured. And when hospital bills in a foreign country start to rapidly add up, you will need to be able to get back to your home country as quickly as possible.
- Check the terms of the Medevac cover as some policies state they will provide ‘evacuation to a third party country’, but may not specify where. For instance, if you are Canadian, being evacuated to a hospital in Germany will still mean finding the money and means to get back home.
- Medevac cover is not just for assignments in conflict zones. The majority of casualties and injuries come from road accidents, which can happen anywhere and at anytime, so it’s important to get insurance even if you’re not going to an area that requires a helmet and flak jacket.
Repatriation after death
- If you are working abroad, check whether repatriation is covered in your policy. Many people wrongly believe that embassies and consulates on the ground will help with financial costs if the worst were to happen. They may provide logistical assistance, but they will not cover any of the expense. On top of repatriation costs, there will be local funeral directors’ fees, mortuary fees, air cargo charges and administrative costs, as well as any hotel bills and costs incurred for the people making these arrangements.
Life insurance for disability/injury and death
- Think about how much you would need if you were injured and unable to work for a long period of time. Also consider what would happen if you faced a permanent disability, such as the loss of a limb or loss of sight.
- The coverage options can vary greatly. Some options include paying out one lump sum, others a percentage of your average salary, or a fixed amount paid to you for an agreed number of weeks – make sure you check the small print.
- As a freelancer, especially when you’re starting out, it may be best to avoid payouts based on your salary. For example, if the provider will pay 5x your last annual earnings for up to 26 weeks, consider what this may actually equate to and whether it will cover your costs.
- Life assurance after accidental death will insure a lump sum is paid to family members. How much coverage you select, your age and current health condition will affect your premium.
- To an extent, this will depend on your profession and what essentials you need to carry out your work. If you work as a writer/print journalist, you can continue to operate with a relatively small amount of equipment (ie. laptop). For a freelance photographer or cameraman, loss or damage of equipment could be a major issue.
- Equipment insurance can be high – and if you can’t afford to take out sufficient cover for all your gear, make sure any assignment you take on is worth the risk of losing it. Think about what you can and cannot afford to replace.
Legal/professional indemnity and liability
- Professional indemnity: This could include breach of contract, in which a client makes a claim against you, citing your work to be inaccurate or substandard. Other possible claims that could be made against you can include copyright infringement, confidentiality breaches, loss of data and slander or libel. This type of cover could help you against such claims and, depending on your policy, may also assist you in taking wrongful claims to court.
- Personal liability: If you’re not working for a client but are still producing published content, you may wish to consider personal liability insurance. Libel, slander and copyright infringement are all claims that could be made against independent journalists by third parties.
- Public liability: This could cover you against damage or injury to persons or their property. For example, if you’re out interviewing someone and accidently damage something in their house, it could prove to be an expensive assignment.
Kidnap and Ransom
- This cover is designed to reimburse the insured for ransom and can cover response costs following abduction, illegal detention or hijack.
- Kidnap and ransom insurance would only be something to consider for specific cases and countries.
Special thanks to Henry Peirse of GRNlive and freelancer Polly Fields, who produced this resource in association with the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.