Different types of insurance are available for journalists travelling overseas. Insurance goes hand in hand with a thorough risk assessment process, which must take place as soon as you start planning your assignment. Good planning and preparation can prevent emergencies and are key to not having to use your insurance.

INSI's planning and preparation advisory has more information.

The key to getting the right insurance is to ensure that the plan works for you, your personal circumstances and the situation in which you may find yourself. A risk assessment will assist you in making this decision. Ensure that your policy covers you for war and terrorism risks, even if you are not travelling to a war zone, as terrorism could happen anywhere.

You may wish to consider whether you need certain kinds of insurance. For example, if there is no infrastructure to support you during an incident, you may decide to start your insurance at the point when assistance can be given to you. 

Insurance varies according to the level of cover you require. Below is a sample of costs for a freelance journalist on a two week assignment in Syria, Mali and Iraq (June 2013)Each company has differing levels of cover and you will need to check each one separately to ensure the policy is what you require. Remember that freelancers can claim this cost against their tax bill.

Insurance for freelancers - Sample costs (PDF)

You should consider the following insurance, depending on your personal circumstances:

  •  Personal travel and medical insurance
  •  Equipment insurance
  •  Life assurance for disability and death

Other factors to consider when buying insurance include: 

  • Your policy should cover the whole period you are away. Consider adding some days to cover any delays in travel.
  • Ensure that you have 100 percent medical and health cover.
  • If you think you may need to cancel your trip, ensure you have cancellation insurance.
  • Ensure your policy has a 24 hour emergency response service.
  • Be aware that the policy holder or beneficiary must declare the accident within a certain number of days after it has happened or become known, except in fortuitous or unavoidable circumstances out of the insured's control.
  • The declaration must include the circumstances of the accident, including names of witnesses, a death certificate, documents proving the status of the beneficiary in the case of death, the address of the solicitor handling the will and a medical certificate describing the injuries or wounds in case of disability.
  • You should not rely on compensation from the airline if it loses your luggage. By law, airlines need only pay a specified minimum value per kilo of lost luggage – this will probably be inadequate to cover the full value of your belongings.
  • Remember that losses should be reported to the police within 24 hours and proof of notification will be required when you make your claim.You will need a police report or doctor's report to make a claim.
  • Most policies will not provide any cover for drink-related incidents. The risks you take by over-indulgence are compounded abroad. If something happens, you will have to pay your own medical costs and for injury or damage to others.

A list of insurers, who will insure freelancers and their kit, is available below and from the Rory Peck Trust.

Insurance for freelancers - List of providers



Photo: Journalists and hotel guests put on their gas masks as civil alert sirens ring throughout the city in a hotel in Kuwait City (AP Photo/Wally Santana)