The long version - online only

Libel insurance - can you afford to be without it?

In today's increasingly litigious world writers face an unprecedented battery of legal threats. But it's not just the extra threats facing all professionals which writers need to be worried about. For example, the internet has elevated the exposure of more work to a global level. Also, many Publishers are now insisting that originators enter into contractswhich effectively guarantee the efficacy of their material. Gone are the days when the buck always stopped with the Publisher - you have never been more likely to be sued!

With the NUJ freelance office receiving increasing numbers of calls from worried members wanting to protect themselves from these new threats, John Toner contacted me to ask for help!

John had discovered that there was no purpose designed insurance available, that only a very few Insurers could offer any cover, and none was designed for writers or broadcasters. He had also found that some insurers required policyholders to contribute excessive sums if they needed to claim, some excluded key aspects of cover (e.g. for Libel and Slander), and most were simply too expensive.

As Imaging Insurance already provides specialist household, equipment, and business insurance (including professional indemnity and public liability) to many NUJ photographer members, John thought that we were ideally placed to come up with something similar for writers and broadcasters.

John's request was simple: Could Imaging Insurance design a suitable policy specifically for NUJ freelance writer members? "No problem", I said, hoping that things would be quite straightforward. I am embarrassed to admit that this was more than 3 years ago, and it was not until October this year that "Writer" was finally available.

Without going into all the gory details, suffice to say that persuading any insurer to provide the necessary cover at a reasonable price turned out to be rather a challenge. The process even involved a leading insurer pulling out at the last minute when all had been agreed with the Freelance Industrial Council! But earlier this year Lloyds Syndicate 2526 A.G. Dore and Others came up trumps.

"Writer" can provide freelance members involved in writing and broadcasting purpose designed Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance for as little as £251.25 p.a., payable by monthly instalments if you wish.

"Writer" is exclusively available to NUJ members and is designed for professional writers and broadcasters including authors, journalists, reporters, technical writers, script writers, and copywriters. The policy is comprehensive and covers Libel and Slander, Infringement of Copyright, Breach of Confidentiality, Negligence, and Liability to the Public. The cover applies to work that you undertake as an individual and also as part of a joint project.

Cover is automatically included for documents which are accidentally lost or damaged. Cover is also included for withdrawal expenses if published material must be withdrawn from the market and destroyed for reasons covered by the policy. Legal costs alone can rapidly run into thousands of pounds, so defence costs and expenses for legal cases covered by the policy are included as are costs and expenses in representing you at Official Proceedings.

Cover applies in whatever medium your material is published or broadcast, including books, local and national newspapers, magazines, specialist journals, private publications, websites, TV, radio, video and film. Subject to EU Law, you are insured wherever in the world your work is published or distributed.

"Writer" is designed to be tailored to your individual requirements with a choice of levels of cover for the whole policy, and also for individual sections. You can even choose how much you wish to contribute to any claim.

While "Writer" cannot cover you for problems you already know about, the cover does apply for work you have produced since your NUJ membership started. If you already hold professional indemnity insurance "Writer" will cover you from the first date from which you have been continuously insured, if this is before the date you joined the NUJ.

"Writer" also provides you with cover after you have stopped producing new work, for example if you retire or are unable to continue working due to ill health. The standard cover continues for 12 months after the end of the policy year in which you stop producing new material, but you can choose to extend this period if you wish.

Getting more information, a quote and taking out a policy couldn't be easier. All you need to do is to is to contact Imaging Insurance by phone on 01277 243016 [changed Nov 2011] or via our website the Imaging Insurance website (either direct or by using the link from the NUJ Freelance site and we will go through the application with you by phone. That means that there's no need for you to try to complete any tedious application forms!

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 £1,000 "Writer" really does represent excellent value for money!"

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