March 30, 2020

Event Coverage Highlight

Postponed Due to Travel Restrictions: Everything Freelancers Need to Know about Insurance

Clockwise from upper left: Elisabeth Cantenys, Sasha Gainanin, Hugh Brumfitt and Daphne Pelligrino.

by William J. Holstein

This event has been postponed due to travel restrictions.

Thousands of freelance and local journalists are covering some of the world’s toughest stories but too many of them lack insurance to help them when they get sick or wounded. The time to halt that practice is at hand.

In an unprecedented show of cooperation, three of the organizations at the forefront of seeking to make insurance available are holding a panel discussion at Club Quarters from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. The goal is to publicize alternatives that are available to freelancers and local journalists, whether they are members of the Overseas Press Club or not. The formal program will last one hour with time available for networking from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Beverages will be available for purchase.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) represents almost 600,000 media professionals in 189 journalist trade unions and associations in 141 countries. It partnered with Battleface, a provider of specialty insurance benefits and services, to create a plan offering all-inclusive insurance to journalists. Representing Battleface will its chief executive officer, Sasha Gainullin. This insurance plan is limited to IFJ members. (Website ifj.battleface.com) Members are protected for emergency medical expenses and evacuation.

A Culture of Safety (ACOS), the alliance that sprang up following the brutal deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, will be represented by its executive director, Elisabeth Cantenys. ACOS has developed a set of principles designed to guide the interactions between assigning editors on the one hand and freelance writers, photographers and videographers on the other hand. The IFJ is a signatory to those principles. ACOS also is organizing training sessions for freelancers and editors. Its website is www.acosalliance.org. The Overseas Press Club Foundation is the sponsor for ACOS.

ACOS has collaborated with Hugh Brumfitt of Insurance for Ltd., who has developed two new insurance plans. Brumfitt also will join the panel. The first plan covers journalists travelling to any country, including conflict zones, and it covers them even while traveling in a military vehicle or helicopter. Evacuation to an appropriate care facility and repatriation home are covered when necessary. The second plan is called Insurance for Local Media and it covers fixers, local producers, translators, drivers and other media workers on the ground regardless of nationality or country of residence. Fees for these insurance plans are modest at just $7.50 per day and the deductible is low, $250 per claim. Individual journalists and ACOS Alliance signatories can obtain a discount. (Available at www.acosalliance.org/discount.)

The third media non-profit to be represented at the panel will be Reporters Without Borders/Reporters San Frontières (RSF). Speaking on its behalf will be Daphne Pelligrino, who is RSF’s advocacy manager for North America. RSF is headquartered in Paris and conducts political advocacy on issues regarding freedom of information and freedom of the press. It provides a complete health insurance and repatriation for journalists and reporters traveling on assignment to any country. RSF does that through Escapade Travel Insurance. It is available to RSF members only. To become a member and learn more, visit rsf.org/en/insurance-0. This insurance has been in use since 2009 and hundreds of journalists have used it.

“All these insurance plans are different, so we want all our freelancer communities to become familiar with them and decide what’s best for each of them,” said ACOS’ Cantenys.

I will moderate. The event will be streamed live but also recorded and placed on the OPC website and on the website of any other organization that wishes to display it. Please spread the word. This is about saving lives.