Insurers Throw a Lifeline to Reality TV Producers

July 23, 2001

Reality television markets itself as extreme, but by pushing the limits of safety, it also pushes the limits of liability. In order to prevent financial losses, reality television producers are turning to insurers to make sure their visions become reality.

According to the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC), Many reality shows rely on treacherous terrain, physically demanding challenges and dangerous stunts to build drama. In most cases, typical entertainment insurance packages just aren’t extensive enough to cover these increased risks.

In addition to normal entertainment coverage, insurance packages for reality programs include larger doses of general liability insurance, insurance for several types of vehicles and accidental death and dismemberment policies for participants.

Candysse Miller, executive director of the IINC stated that the more reality shows rely on risky stunts to build ratings, the more they rely on insurance for financial protection and the provision of safety guidelines. She added by requiring that the shows take extreme safety measures before a policy is written, the insurance protects both producers and participants.

Most film insurance packages cost between three and five percent of the project’s total budget. With their increased risks, reality shows use this cost as a starting point. The cost increases based on the severity of the exposures.

But injured limbs aren’t the only worry to reality producers. Bruised egos can also cause costly losses. Many lawsuits filed against reality television producers involve defamation of character claims filed by participants upset by how they are depicted on television. Protection against such claims is a typical element of errors and omissions insurance.

Although insurance companies rarely tell producers how to craft their shows, if a stunt cannot be insured, it typically will not be performed. As television offers more — and more risky — reality programs, insurers will work closely with producers to design safety measures that take these shows to the edge, without going over it.

The Insurance Information Network of California is a non-profit, non-lobbying media relations organization supporting the property/casualty insurance industry. IINC has spokespeople in both Northern and Southern California to discuss this and other insurance issues.

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