Production: Insurance

Film is a risky business. Not just because the potential millions that may be put into a film may never be returned if the film is a flop, but because of the thousands of foreseeable (and unforeseeable) accidents that can happen on a set.

Having proper insurance for a film is an absolute necessity. Actors could fall off sets. Crew members could trip over equipment and injure themselves. Unpredictable animals could go wild and wreak havoc. Equipment could be damaged in riskier shots, such as in water. All of these things must be taken into consideration way before shooting even begins.

Usually, insurance brokers come into the picture while the film is still in its development stages. They need to review the script (does it include animals, water shots, or eighty different stunts?), dates, type of equipment and shooting locations. With this information, they perform a risk assessment of the project and decide the cost of insurance. Some scenes may have to be modified or completely cut if the cost of insurance is too high.

Certain locations may have to be changed. If the water you want to shoot in is full of dangerous jellyfish or hungry crocodiles, you’ll probably have a hard time getting insured. You may have to remove just a single stunt, which could be deemed too dangerous to insure. No stone will go unturned by insurance companies when assessing risk. By purchasing their policies, you’re assuring that you’re covered in the case that things go wrong, and you should be aware of all of those potential things.

Just as with any other type of insurance, there are countless amounts of things that you can be insured for when it comes to filming. For example, projects shot on actual film instead of digitally often have a Negative Film Risk policy, which covers re-shooting expenses in the event of processing problems or damaged negative film. All insurance assessments need to be done in the very early stages of the filming process, before production can happen. Unfortunately, many films never even get to the filming stage, because unaccounted-for insurance costs end of being more than the film’s actual budget. It is not something to be taken lightly.

Public liability insurance is undoubtedly one of the most important policies. This insurance covers the whole production company in case of personal injury or property damage as a result of on-set risks. Contractors are not covered by this insurance, though some falsely assume they are.

Other important policy is called the E&O policy, standing for Errors and Omissions. This policy covers the production company for potential lawsuits arising from issues regarding copyright, plagiarism, defamation, libel and slander. Although claims on this type of insurance are rare, it is extremely important, especially for films based on true events or people.

Although insurance is typically a huge cost for producers, it is an unavoidable one. In any kind of production, proper insurance is critical.

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