A behind-the-scenes look at reality TV damage control
A slip-and-fall on “Wipeout” could literally wipe out the show. Real-world liabilities could wreck “The Real World.” And “Survivor” wouldn’t survive without policies from entertainment insurers.
There’s a big business behind every reality show, and those businesses need to protect their assets and reduce risk of liability.
The average entertainment insurance package includes: cast insurance, workers’ compensation, nonowned and hired auto, property coverage for sets, props, wardrobe and media (film, video and digital); third-party property insurance for location shoots; and errors and omissions coverage to protect the show’s intellectual property. For reality TV, general liability takes the place of cast insurance.
Of course, insurance packages are tailored to meet each show’s needs. Shows like “Fear Factor” that entail extreme risk-taking will purchase accident disability coverage. Dating shows such as “The Bachelor” are vigilant with wavers so participants acknowledge that are willing applicants and understand the risks involved, should any mean-spirited situations arise. Celebrity-driven shows like “The Apprentice” can complicate underwriting: If someone with deep pockets gets hurt, a lawsuit can be leveraged with big money. And roommate shows like “Jersey Shore” may be risky – what if a fight breaks out?
The big issue with reality TV is, it isn’t scripted, so you never know how people are going to react. It can make any underwriter nervous. But entertainment insurers also employ claims adjusters and experience onsite loss-control safety experts to make sure hazards are avoided, such as approving stunts and making sure cockroaches are safe to eat.
Insurance premiums for a reality TV show typically run 1 percent to 2 percent of the overall budget. But as entertainment insurers will tell you, everything is insurable … for a price.