Bid to prove freelance demand for insurance

Rory Peck award-winner Talal Abu Rahma says filming the killing of Palestinian Mohammed El Durah was "one of the most dangerous moments of my life."

A survey of freelances has been launched by the Rory Peck Trust as part of its drive to establish a special insurance scheme in the wake of sharp rises in costs following the events of September 11.

The trust, which was set up to support freelances in 1995 in memory of cameraman Rory Peck, has contacted media organisations and unions across Europe in a bid to establish the impact of the cost of insurance schemes and to see to what extent employers are willing to pay for insurance cover.

The Media Workers Association of South Africa has agreed to support the initiative as the trust seeks to bring in freelances from around the world. It is hoped the survey will prove to insurance brokers the potential demand for an affordable dedicated freelance insurance scheme.

Insurance costs rocketed to unprecedented levels during the first few weeks of the Afghanistan conflict, with some freelances being quoted premiums of £12,000 a week. It also emerged that insurance companies could withdraw insurance cover at only 24 hours’ notice.

While some of the major broadcasters operating in the UK under the umbrellas of the News Security Group signed up to a set of safety guidelines aimed at protecting both staff and freelance staff, the conflict in Afghanistan highlighted the fact that many freelance journalists still fell through the net.

It is thought that a small number of freelances who worked in Afghanistan went without any insurance cover.

"We hope to establish the huge breadth and variety there is among the freelance community to prove to the brokers that there is great potential for a dedicated insurance scheme," said trust director Tina Carr. "That is our ultimate aim and we see this as an important step."

It is hoped that freelances would be able to have access through a website to an insurance scheme that would extend beyond war-zone cover.

Carr said that the Rory Peck Trust was also keen to include newspaper journalists and local journalists working on the ground in countries around the world.

"Freelances can be very vulnerable and one of the groups we are most worried about are the locals, the journalists working in places like Zimbabwe. They are often the ones who really suffer," said Carr.


By Julie Tomlin

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