Can you afford to be without libel insurance?

A NEW insurance policy to cover freelances against the costs of libel actions is now available, tailor-made for NUJ members. David Jayne of Imaging Insurance explains.

THE INTERNET has elevated the exposure of more work to a global level. Many publishers now insist that originators sign contracts which guarantee the efficacy of their material. Gone are the days when the buck stopped with the publisher.

Following enquiries from worried freelances, NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner contacted me to ask for help. John had discovered that there were no purpose-designed insurance available. There were some policies that were too expensive, or which excluded libel and slander.

As Imaging Insurance already provides cover to NUJ photographer members, John came with a simple request: could we design a suitable policy for NUJ freelance writer members? "No problem", I said. This was more than three years ago - and it was not until this October that the "Writer" policy was finally available.

"Writer" can provide freelance NUJ member writers and broadcasters with Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance starting at £251.25 a year. Suitable for authors, journalists, technical writers, script writers, and copywriters, it covers libel and slander, infringement of copyright, breach of confidentiality, negligence, and liability to the public, for work you undertake as an individual and also as part of a joint project. Cover also includes documents accidentally lost or damaged, and expenses if published material must be withdrawn from the market and destroyed.

Legal costs can rapidly run into thousands of pounds, so defence costs and expenses for legal cases covered by the policy are included as are costs for representing you at Official Proceedings. Subject to EU Law, you are insured wherever in the world your work is published or distributed. The Writer policy can be tailor-made, with a choice of levels of cover. It cannot cover you for problems you already know about, but it does apply for work you have produced since your NUJ membership started. Writer also covers you for 12 months after you have stopped producing new work, for example if you retire, and can be extended beyond that.

As John Toner says, "If you have any involvement in freelance writing or broadcasting we strongly recommend that you consider taking out Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance. If you don't have cover you really could be risking everything. With the costs of making a mistake potentially ruinous and the likelihood of being sued increasing all the time, everyone needs this type of insurance. With premiums for similar, but non-specialist insurance, exceeding £1000 "Writer" really does represent excellent value for money!"

Contact Imaging Insurance on www.imaginginsurance.co.uk or 01277 243016 [changed Nov 2011]. See a longer introduction here

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