Production Insurance: A Necessity at Any Budget Size?
There are so many aspects to production insurance that I won’t pretend it is even possible to explain all the elements in a brief piece; a medium size book would be necessary to properly cover all the bases.
It is vital to have a conversation with an agent well versed in production insurance. I started insuring short term productions (1 to 60 days of coverage) and branched into insuring larger budget movies and annual D.I.C.E producers ( Documentaries, Industrials, Commercials and Educational pieces etc.). As a result, I have deep experience helping clients with smaller budgets to figure out what options are available, so that the filmmaker can best decide what coverage is absolutely needed and what coverage you may elect to INCLUDE or EXCLUDE.
With a larger budget film you most likely get an annual package with a full built in production package. The full production package includes: Commercial General Liability for locations, Auto Liability, Rented Equipment, Props, Sets and Wardrobe, Film Negative or Digitized Image coverage, Third Party Property damage, Hired auto physical Damage, and so on (see a list coverages commonly purchased).
With the small budget short shoots, it is an a la carte package. You decide what coverage is necessary. The General Liability is the cornerstone to which you attach all the other coverage and I say this because many first time or micro budget filmmakers make their first call because they are filming at a location that requires them to show proof of Public Liability before they are allowed to film on public or private property. The Public Liability is the landlord’s assurance that if a non participating member of the film crew (public at large) is injured on the landlord’s property, there will be sufficient insurance to take care of the bodily injury. The property owner’s insurance will not cover damages for an injured party on their property as a result of production company or film crews activities.
Often I get asked, “and this will cover my crew, correct?” No… crew and cast injuries are a Work Comp issue and most States are mandatory Work Comp States, meaning you are required to cover your cast and crew for workplace injury. Think of the General Liability as your “Ticket” in to the location – most locations, be they private or public, will not allow a film crew to enter the premise without proof of Liability coverage.
Rented Equipment insurance is another common coverage. If you are renting a very small amount of gear, a deposit is often all that is required by the rental house; however, for a large amount of gear the vendor or rental house will likely only release the gear once you provide proof you have Misc. Rented Equipment coverage. Proof takes the form of a certificate of insurance showing you have at least rented equipment coverage, but more often than not the vendor ALSO requires proof that you, or your production company, have public liability coverage in place as well.
My goal as an agent is to help the filmmaker UNDERSTAND what the different options are, so that the filmmaker can make an educated decision regarding what coverage they will elect to INCLUDE and what coverage they feel comfortable REJECTING.
I realize it can be a little intimidating at the outset if you, as a filmmaker, have never had to acquire production insurance. That’s why a patient agent, willing to take the time to help educate you, will make all the difference in making the experience a good one. Our job as agents is to help you understand the coverage available so that you, the filmmaker, can make an assessment of what coverage you feel you want to INCLUDE or EXCLUDE.
Be sure to check out the article Production Insurance: Coverages Commonly Purchased If you would like more information and a list of available coverage with a brief description.
Regards And Happy Filming