Word insurance comes from the old French word from enseurance (translated to assurance), which means to make things “safe” and “secure”. The term has been used in business since 1650 for “security against loss or death in exchange for payment”.
As a producer, you know how many elements there are in production and how many things can go wrong.
Rightfully, this makes insuring your production, actors, crew, equipment, producers, and filming locations from any liability claim that may come up the first order of business at the start of any new production.
Insurance is used to cover the financial hardships of unexpected events. It can cover personal injury or property damage; everything from a broken lens during vehicle transfer to infringement of intellectual property.
There are two time-frames for insurance: annual insurance and short-term insurance.
It is a good idea to compare both short-term and annual film production insurance before making a decision.
Annual insurance: D.I.C.E.
If you plan to shoot multiple productions throughout the year, then an annual film production insurance policy is your best option. Annual Insurance, also known as D.I.C.E. is a policy that extends to your production company, covering all productions you shoot within a year. – As long as your projects stay within the limits of your annual coverage.
The acronym stands for:
However, this insurance can cover videos for streaming, short films, music videos, commercials, and in some cases even feature films.*
DICE insurance policies are designed for companies that produce multiple projects every year.
- Production house expecting to create multiple corporate videos in a year
- YouTube channel creating multiple videos every month
- Director owned production company producing multiple music videos simultaneously
These companies will save money choosing to cover all their projects in DICE insurance.
*In most feature film shoots, a production company is set up specifically to make the film and only needs insurance to cover that film.
The cost of DICE insurance will start from $3,250.
What DICE may not cover
Fight scenes or stunts, as well as the use of guns, blanks, squibs, or pyrotechnics, aircraft, animals, or boats, may not be covered in your DICE insurance. Generally, you will be able to add the additional insurance coverage to your policy depending on your project’s unique needs.
Short term production insurance
If your production is less than 60 days or your film projects have a budget of less than 1M, you may prefer to get short-term production insurance.
Short term production insurance is for companies that are not frequently producing content or producers who are doing one project at a time.
A short term production insurance policy may cover as little as one production day.
I highly recommend including all prep days+ wrap days + more in your policy length.
Even if it’s a one day shoot, you don’t want your policy to run out just before payroll starts.
A short-term policy costs can start from $500.
Connecting with Insurance Broker
Insurance coverage for your production company or project should be obtained from an insurance broker who specializes in insurance for the entertainment industry.
Things to consider when deciding as to which broker to go with are expertise, ability to respond immediately to last-minute needs, ability to get the best claim service, and accessibility.
[box] You will have better insurance if your broker has
- Extensive knowledge of the business
- More knowledge about your production company and project(s)[/box]
What an Insurance Broker does
The insurance broker takes the information you have given and gets quotes for a policy that meets the unique needs of your production company and your projects.
Their job is to protect you and the company from financial exposure and liability.
They will broker insurance for you and provide you with a Certificate of Insurance (also known as COI)
How to talk to insurance Broker
It is vital that you are 100% honest with your insurance broker.
It is a common mistake in first-time indie-producers to hide stunts or hide the production budget while they are talking to their insurance broker. That actually defeats the purpose of the insurance broker – as it is their job to protect your interest.
Transparency is key. Your broker will look at the information you have given them and decide what’s best for you. The more information you give the better insurance company they will find for you – that can cover all the risks.
→ If it’s a scripted project, highlight all the action scenes and send the script to your broker.
→ If it’s a music video, share the treatment with your broker.
→ Always give a detailed description, creative/one-liner, and budget.
Here is a checklist that can help when you are talking with your broker:
Your production company contact information
All details of the production (type, genre, episode count, running time, etc.)
Production team (Producer, Director, UPM, Coordinator and a person to contact for Audit)
Start Dates (Pre-Production, Principal Photography, Wrap)
Locations (Days at each location)
Budget (Gross production costs, below the line costs, vehicle costs, production costs)
Payroll service* This is important because of ‘Workers Compensation’ (which ensures your cast and crew)
Source of Financing
Value of properties (equipment, sets, props)
Estimated time needed to reconstruct sets
All unions associated with the production company
Optional items to be insured
❓Are there any special cast members that the project is depending on? If so ask about ‘essential cast coverage’.
❓Is there any special type of equipment used? If so provide details, value, whether it is rented or owned, and where the equipment kept when not in use.
❓Any “one of a kind” fine arts / jewelry / antiques?
❓ Do you want to insure for intellectual property?
❓Are there any travels?
❓Are there any Location/Facilities used where values are over $1Mil?
❓Are you shooting in Film? (will need to inform about the post-prod lab, negative shipping, daily viewing, etc.)
❓Are there any stunts?
Such as but not limited to:
- Fight Scenes
- Precision Driving
- Water Scenes
If so see the stunt questionnaire below.
❓Do you have any of the elements below:
- Pyrotechnics (will need the questionnaire below)
- Special Hazards (will need the questionnaire below)
These are some of the elements you should mention to your insurance broker.
Stunt / Pyro / Hazardous Activity Questionnaire
Any unusual and difficult physical feat or an act requiring a special skill in film, tv, and streaming, are called stunts. Stunts are done by professionals called stunt performers. (Aka Stuntmen & Stuntwomen)
👉 You mustn’t ask your actor to do dangerous physical activities – as it may risk their safety and your entire project.
Every time there is a stunt scene, you will submit your insurance broker a questionnaire like this one:
Type of scenes being filmed:
- Type of stunt
- Protective measures used to protect participants
- Protective measures used to project public
- Name of employer of record of the person(s) performing stunts
- How many people involved in stunt scenes?
👉 You will be asked to attach a resume of stunt coordinators, fx coordinators, fire coordinators, and so forth as pertains to your planned activity.
Many insurances will not cover Covid-19 related risks, or if they do they will be requiring premiums that are a few times more expensive than the standard insurance.
This informational post should not be misconstrued as legal advice. WizardyBudgets.com and its authors are not responsible for decisions made based on the information covered in this article.
When it comes to your productions, I recommend hiring an insurance professional, like my good friends in MFE Insurance and Front Row Insurance who can help you figure out your specific insurance needs.
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