Health and safety and insurance

Health and safety are essential factors to consider for a production.

Find specific information related to health and safety for independent production companies and high risk activities on the BBC Safety website.

All monitoring of a company's health and safety arrangements (whether before, during, or after production) carried out by the BBC is in order to satisfy the corporation that the company is an appropriate organisation to be contracting with. All responsibility for production health and safety remains with the independent production company at all times and nothing shall operate to transfer any such responsibilities to the BBC by virtue of its assurance monitoring activities.

Please contact the BBC Safety advice line Ask Al on 0464 or to discuss getting a new company vetted or an existing company re-vetted.


Health and safety questionnaire

All productions must submit an Health and safety questionnaire and a programme will not be formally commissioned until this is returned. For further information about how broadcasters share health and safety information please see the About the BBC website.

Approval lasts for three years and once this expires the questionnaire will need to be resubmitted.

Some productions with current approval may require additional assurances in certain circumstances and this information should be captured on the Commissioning specification. These circumstance include:

  • The project involves hazardous activities.
  • Since being approved a company has either experienced significant accidents or incidents and/or has been notified by the BBC that further assurances will be required in advance of any future commissions.
  • The production involves filming in a hostile environment or other high risks.
Download the Health and safety questionnaire from the paperwork section of the delivery timeline


Managed risk programme list

The managed risk programme list (MRPL) operates as an early warning system to highlight programmes with specific editorial, legal, commercial, intrinsic or reputational risks (rather than regular concerns around health and safety, competitions, voting or awards which are managed through different procedures). Being added to the managed risk programme list does not mean the project is being managed badly but that extra care might be needed when handling the programme.

An independent production company will know when a programme has been put on this list either because it will be stated in the Commissioning specification or will be informed by the commissioning executive. The independent executive should inform the BBC executive if, in their view, a change in circumstances requires subsequent inclusion.

Being on the list results in specific contractual consequences:

It means that in addition to the standard rights and approvals that the BBC has in connection with the programme (including with regards to any distribution and promotional activity in the UK) the production will need to discuss with the commissioning representative (ie the BBC commissioning executive or business affairs manager) all the distribution plans for the programme including any overseas promotional plans that the production or its licensees may have.

As part of this discussion the production will need to agree in writing a risk management strategy in connection with the distribution plans. This may include the commissioning representative having sign-off of certain overseas activities or materials.

The production must then comply with the risk management strategy agreed with your BBC commissioning representative (unless any variations are subsequently agreed in writing).



The independent production company is required to ensure that appropriate production insurance is in place before commencing production and, where the BBC is cash-flowing the licence fee, that the BBC has approved these arrangements.

Quartz are currently the provider of the BBC's production insurance scheme for BBC commissioned independent productions and the cost is presently 0.5% of the ‘insurable amount’ of a production's costs (as set out below). When a production joins the scheme this amount is deducted from the Primary rights licence fee payable to the production and is paid directly by the BBC.

Quartz will initially check that the BBC is the single largest funder of the project (and if applicable, review third party funder insurance requirements), what type of production it is, the total insurable amount (total budget minus production fee, overheads, royalties, insurance premium and contingency) and who is the business affairs manager at the BBC for the project. From this information they determine whether the particular production qualifies for the scheme (if there is any doubt Quartz will contact BBC Insurance). Quartz then send the BBC Proposal form to the production via email and ask for it to be completed and sent back. Quartz will then contact the business affairs manager/assistant programme finance manager at the BBC to make sure the programme is fully commissioned and to check that insurance may be put in place.

The business affairs manager/assistant programme finance manager will issue a SAP code to Quartz to enable them to collect the cost of the insurance and within three working days of receipt of the SAP code Quartz will send the production its insurance documents and cover letter. This usually includes documents for completion such as statement of health forms, travel forms and also an independent insurance guide. The independent insurance guide outlines each section of the policy and lets you know what the production is covered for.

Download the Quartz independent production company insurance guide (PDF).

Important covers applied for include employers' liability, public liability and travel insurance. The travel insurance, provided by Quartz and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance satisfies the agreement in place with the unions to provide a certain level of travel insurance for the crew whilst working abroad on a BBC funded production, details of which can also be found in the independent insurance guide.

In some circumstances the production will need to obtain specialist insurance and should contact either Quartz or their own insurer in order to put this insurance in place. When filming in hostile environments in particular the production will need to plan and budget for the additional risks and costs which may be involved (eg equipment confiscation, detention, security services, specialist insurances etc) as standard production insurances are unlikely to cater for such risks. The production should discuss details of any specialist insurances it plans to buy with the BBC business affairs manager.

It should be stressed that although the production is not obliged to use Quartz it must have adequate insurance in place as set out in clause 8 of the General terms for the production of television programmes by independent producers and the terms of any alternative insurance coverage must be approved in writing in advance by the BBC. The production is required to arrange and maintain insurance against all risks normally insured against in accordance with the customary practice of prudent film and television producers. The BBC provides the brief guide below to the insurance covers it regards as the standard minimums which should be insured for all productions.

Download the independent TV producers insurance guidance for BBC commissions (PDF).

The BBC considers it to be best practice for production companies to have E&O cover and in order to help independent production companies secure cover at a competitive cost, the BBC has put in place an E&O scheme for independents to use.

Find details of the Quartz E&O scheme.  

Given that the commissioning agreement requires the production to provide an indemnity in favour of the BBC, the E&O cover has been designed to respond to defamation and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) claims made under the commissioning agreement, including claims which may arise from the productions commercial exploitation of the programme.

If the production is storing any sets, props, costumes, or any other similar material created or acquired in connection with the programme in accordance with General term 12.4.2 then, whilst the BBC is paying for storage, these items will be covered (for the BBC's benefit only) under the BBC's general insurance cover (but you will need to notify the BBC's head of insurance if the value in store is in excess of £250,000). This insurance cover will expire upon de-commission of the programme by the BBC. If a programme is re-commissioned these items must be covered again under the production insurance once the prodcution enters into pre-production on the subsequent programme (whether under the BBC production scheme or otherwise).