Starting Out on the Right Foot: Insuring Your Production

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Many times, new film production companies jump into a project “head first” because of the whirlwind-like nature of the creative process.

Unfortunately, productions that proceed with a devil-may-care enthusiasm can face serious financial consequences if the right insurance is not purchased at the outset of the project. Fortunately, there is an array of insurances that can be designed to fit a budget of almost any size.  

  • Short-term vs. long-term insurance: The choice between these two types of insurance depends on the amount of time the production is shooting the film, video, or related media. 
  • Short-range coverage: Provides a full spectrum of insurance coverage for productions with budgets of less than a million dollars and for durations up to 60 days.
  • Mid-range coverage: This type of insurance is appropriate for productions with budgets between 1 million and 30 million dollars, with a duration of 12 months or less.
  • High-range coverage: Productions with budgets over 30 million dollars, with a duration of 12 months or more (though most filming is completed within 12 months).

Ubiquitous errors and omissions (E&O) insurance: For film production companies, this type of insurance protects producers against a wide variety of media risks like libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and infringement of copyright, in addition to providing protection against a number of other torts. It is typically required when signing any distribution or broadcast contract. In fact, many distribution companies will pass on a film unless it has top-graded E&O insurance.

Film print insurance: This coverage insures expenses incurred in reprint, recopy, repair, and lost or damaged property from the original material.

Personal article insurance: The famous espionage-action character James Bond is known to wear only Rolex watches, which typically sell for ten thousand dollars. It is used whenever something of value — like Rolex watches, jewelry, or fine art — is borrowed in the making of a film or video.

Marine property and liability insurance: Productions that take place at least partially at sea require marine property and liability insurance programs that cover activities on boats, barges, platforms, or marinas.

Insurance through film school: Most film schools provide insurance for their students by default.

Special event production insurance: Used for parties or galas, this coverage protects the host from any liability that may arise as a result of a physical injury within the venue or losses sustained by performers or DJs.

Failure to obtain the proper insurance coverage at the outset may seriously hinder the viability of a production if something goes wrong. Luckily, TV- and film-related insurances are scalable and affordable.

As this article demonstrates, there are many requirements and just as many insurance products to cover them. In fact, as many of our clients confess, it can be mind-boggling. To ensure that your insurance is up to par for major studios and investors, I recommend contacting an experienced insurance broker who knows how to navigate these intricate situations so that you are properly covered. To ensure your contracts are up to par, contact an experienced entertainment industry attorney to review your situation and make recommendations.

Aaron Pierce
(212) 882-1752
299 Broadway, Suite 1405
New York, NY 10007

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