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6 Reality Shows and their Crazy Insurance Concerns

Reality Shows and their Crazy Insurance Concerns

Watching someone lie down on a bed of snakes in Fear Factor might make mediocre television, but it makes for great insurance. While we’re laughing at Americans wipeout on Wipeout, the insurance company underwriting the show is cringing. Given that it isn’t scripted and not being performed by trained professionals or stunt doubles, reality television takes insurance to all new heights. How do insurance companies limit their risk on reality tv shows?


Reality shows with likelihood of personal injury are the most expensive to underwrite. With Wipeout, Aon/Albert G. Ruben insurance will cover the production company with an accident disability insurance policy. They require that the show hires a loss-control expert to manage behind the scenes and stage scary stunts to reduce the risk of loss. The result is that reality shows have less accidents than scripted dramas. Simply because they can’t afford the kind of liability claims they will be responsible for.

The Bachelor

Although relatively unadventurous, shows like The Bachelor require quite comprehensive legal cover. Why? Dating shows are in the business of selling emotion to viewers. And emotion is always risky. The risk of lawsuits is even higher on reality shows because the participants are not hired actors. Participants sign waivers making clear the risks of humiliation and heartbreak.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Big Brother-type reality shows that film roommates 24 hours a day are perhaps one of the highest risk shows on reality tv. Especially if the participants are famous and rich and encouraged to provide a bit of action for the show. Producers like to break the emotion with action, which is a high risk when it isn’t scripted. Action sequences, such as the race car driving scenes of Kim and the girls, was a high risk for underwriters. The same is true of shows like Jersey Shore. The participants have to be covered for personal injury and liability for doing the same stupid things they’d ordinarily do in real life, just because they’re on television.

Celebrity Apprentice

Celebrity reality shows are even more complicated because they involve celebrities. The production company is responsible for their safety. The Rebel Billionaire, for example, saw Richard Branson take his tea in a hot air balloon. This is a high risk for a network, especially considering he is worth more than the entire network. When celebrities on dating shows decide to do something stupid like skydiving, the insurance company starts calculating how much they’d have to pay out if the celeb can no longer work or walk afterwards.

The Biggest Loser

Health-related reality shows are high risk because of the health aspect, but also the potential for the show to lose money. A contestant can easily suffer personal injury on a weight-loss show. And the production company will be responsible for it. What’s more, if someone suffers disgrace on camera, the company may choose not to air the show. In that case, they lose all the money invested into it.

Extreme Makeover

The reality show that remodels homes is crazy risky. Why? It involves show hosts working with power tools and revamping homes. It travels across the country and makes use of hundreds of volunteers. And the production company is responsible for all of it. While everybody signs waivers and release forms before setting foot in the house, they might still sue the network if a wooden beam falls on them.

You may not run your own reality show, but you do have to live in reality. Do you have liability and personal accident cover? Fill in our legal cover form to get a range of quotes.

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