Why You Need Film Equipment Insurance
A film production has a lot of moving parts and film producers have unique circumstances that often put them at risk of personal liability. Many things can go wrong when you are involved in producing a film, whether it's short term productions or a feature film. In film production, there are a variety of different safety and security issues to consider and not just for the cast and crew. Depending on the type of production, a producer must also consider damage that can happen to rented equipment, third party property damage while filming on location or in a production studio which makes liability insurance, especially film equipment insurance in Los Angeles and elsewhere a must have.
What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?
Equipment rental houses won’t even talk to you without production insurance, but the first thing to consider is if you need short term production insurance or an annual policy. Short term production insurance covers your productions on a project-by-project basis and can cover as little as one day of shooting. However, if you were planning on shooting multiple times in a year, you would want an annual policy. This would cover all the projects you are working on. Typically this type of film production insurance would be employed by active production companies.
Working with an Insurance Broker
You should not obtain production insurance without an insurance broker. A good way to think about choosing an insurance broker is the same way you might choose a real estate agent. What is their track record? Have they gotten the best deals in the past for their clients? Are they aggressively advocating for your interests and do they understand your needs? Some people like a house with a large backyard. Some people want to be on a quiet street or a corner lot. Every film production is different and an insurance policy should be tailored to its unique needs.
You want to make sure your insurance broker specializes in entertainment insurance so that they understand production policies and can package what you need to get the most coverage for the best rates.
Important Insurance Terms to Know
Certificates of Insurance (COI)
A certificate of insurance (COI) is a standardized insurance industry form listing the insurance coverages carried by the production company or producer.
General liability covers bodily injury and property damage that occurs during the course of filming. Cast and crew are exempt from this and covered separately through a workers compensation policy.
Equipment Insurance Coverage
Most film production insurance policies start with coverage for rented and owned equipment, such as the camera, grip and lighting gear. Most rental houses for professional production gear require $250,000 - $500,000 minimum for rental equipment.
A coverage area is where your film insurance policy takes effect. If you’re purchasing short term production insurance,you would opt for coverage wherever your shoot is taking place.
If you’re purchasing an annual policy, it is important to make sure your coverage areas include anything you might need.
Workers Compensation Insurance
Protects you should something happen to your payrolled cast or crew, freelancers and volunteers.
Film Insurance Deductibles
Film production insurance deductibles work like any other deductible.The lower the deductible, the more expensive the film insurance policy.
The higher the deductible, the cheaper the policy. Your deductible amount is often required by the vendor in order to rent.
Add-Ons Specialty Policies
These are special circumstances that can be added on to your policy such as pyro, stunts, aircraft insurance, weapons, animals, water and underwater and recreational vehicles.
Errors and Omissions (E&O)
E&O insurance is required for any project that is distributed for profit. It can offer legal liability coverage for claims alleging unauthorized use of titles, format, ideas, characters and plots; plagiarism and unfair competition. Also for alleged libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy.
CIOS Storage (Not a term so much as a suggestion. Often you will need to immediately provide your documentation to vendors or have it readily available for crew. Have a storage system that makes that seamless.
Use a management system to make sure all your documents are secure and easily available.
Top Film Equipment Insurance Companies in Los Angeles
There are many insurance companies that cater to film production. All will cover the types of coverage we’ve listed above. We’ve identified 10 that are proven in the industry with a track record of great service and innovative thinking!
- American Entertainment
- ASIS - Alan Schlaifer Insurance Services
- Athos Insurance Services
- Frankel & Associates Insurance
- Front Row Insurance Brokers
- Hub International/ Elkins Jones
- Momentous Insurance Brokerage
- RVNA Production Insurance
- Truman Van Dyke Co.
1. American Entertainment
32107 W. Lindero Canyon Road, #120 Westlake Village, CA 91361
American Entertainment Insurance (AEI) Services is an Entertainment Insurance Brokerage that is appointed with various Insurance Companies that offer Insurance for the entertainment industry. They offer a wide range of entertainment related insurance products.
- Short Term Production
- Event Insurance
- Production Portfolio Insurance
- Errors and Omissions
2. ASIS - Alan Schlaifer Insurance Services
18653 Ventura Blvd. Suite 574 Tarzana, California 91356
ASIS Entertainment Insurance, a division of ASIS Financial has been involved in the entertainment industry since 1989 and are intimately acquainted with the production processes of film, TV, commercials and music – and the logistical and budgetary hurdles producers must clear every day. They are your one-stop shop for:
- Production Insurance (features, annual DICE policies, short term productions)
- E&O Insurance
- Rental Houses
- Special Events (film festivals/screenings, concerts, etc.)
3. Athos Insurance Services
P.O. Box 61102 Pasadena, California 91116
Athos Insurance creates specialty programs in the entertainment, recreation and extreme sports industries, while consistently pursuing technological advances to benefit and service clients. Through the online platform www.InsurEntertainment.com, customers can quote, purchase, and manage annual and short-term equipment insurance instantly. Insurance programs include, but are not limited to the following:
- Short-Term Productions/Films,
- Short-Term Rented Equipment,
- Annual Productions/Films
- Annual DICE production packages,
- Annual Owned and Rented Equipment Floaters (worldwide),
- Special Events (1 time events & Annual policies),
- Entertainment Vendors – Subcontractors In the Entertainment Industry, Vendors/Booths – Events/Fairs/Festivals
4. Frankel & Associates Insurance
9233 W. Pico Blvd. Ste. 226 Los Angeles, California 90035
Frankel & Associates is an industry leading brokerage for entertainment insurance. Their extensive professional network allows them to source the best policies for your needs and your budget. As an independent brokerage, they are able to offer unbiased opinions and steer you toward the best coverage for your business. Whether you’re shooting short-term productions or DICE / Annual productions, they have the right insurance coverage for your type of production. Their entertainment policy options include:
- Film, Movie & TV Production
- Concert and Special Events Insurance
- Venue Insurance
- Film Equipment
5. Front Row Insurance Brokers
14156 Magnolia Blvd, Suite 200 Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Front Row Insurance Brokers arranges film production insurance to cover the risks associated with your production. They cover features, television series, docs, commercials, music videos, webisodes and other productions intended to be distributed on mobile devices: any content created by you—the producer. Some of the coverages they arrange include:
- Damage and loss to your negative or hard drive
- Faulty stock / Faulty camera / Faulty processing
- Props / Sets / Wardrobes
- Filming equipment – loss or damage
- Production office
- Rented production vehicles
- Location liability
- Errors and Omissions
6. Hub International / Elkins Jones
16030 Ventura Blvd. Encino, California 91436
Production insurance for all lines of coverage:
- Short Term
- Cast and Crew
- Student Films
- Music Videos,
- Major and Low-Budget productions (film, TV, live acts, stage, and theatre)
7. Momentous Insurance Brokerage
5990 Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 550 Van Nuys, California 91411
Their Film & Television specialists are well-connected in the entertainment world, and have solid relationships with producers, creative professionals and insurance carriers. Their clientele include Academy Award and Emmy winners, Types of coverage include, but not limited to:
- Production Package Cast / Essential Elements
- General Liability
- Non-owned Hired Auto Umbrella / Excess Liability Stunts
- Pyro and Hazardous Activities
- Foreign Workers’ Compensation
- Non-Owned Aircraft Liability / Drones
- Foreign General Liability
- Foreign Contingent Automobile Liability
9036 Reseda Blvd., #105 Northridge, California 91324
Their mission is “to serve filmmakers with the best policies their dollar can buy. Our diversified staff utilizes state-of-the-art technology to make your insurance experience with us as effortless as possible.Simply put, we are ‘Independent Brokers / Agents’ representing you the ‘client’.” Policies include:
- Adult Entertainment
- DICE/Annual Productions
- Multimedia Productions E&O
- Foreign Productions
- Movie Boat
- Production Portfolio
- Short Term Productions
- Photographers, Videographers, DJ’s
- Recording, Editing, Pre/Post Production Studios
- Rental Houses
- Shell Corps
- Entertainment Equipment Floater
9. RVNA Production Insurance
10148 Riverside Dr. 2nd Fl. Toluca Lake, California 91602
RVNA Production Insurance, a division of R.V Nuccio & Associates, INC, encourages the use of their unique online services for film production insurance. Available in all 50 states, their production insurance covers, but is not limited to:
- General Liability
- Gear and Equipment
- Employee Crime
- Hired & Non-Owned Auto
- Errors & Omissions
- Workers Compensation
10. Truman Van Dyke Co.
6767 Forest Lawn Dr. Ste. 301 Los Angeles, California 90068
One of the first ones in the entertainment insurance industry, Truman Van Dyke, is known for its expertise in film production insurance through its years of experience. Founded in 1953, this agency is one of the leaders in the film production insurance space today. They are dedicated to providing high-quality products such as:
- General liability,
- Equipment rental,
- Short term insurance
- Errors & omissions (E&O) coverage
Lawsuits in the Film Industry
There are general liability risks for both people and property and it is essential that producers and production companies have the right entertainment insurance coverage to protect themselves, the ensured completion of their project and protection from any lawsuits that might arise.
There are many different circumstances where events can turn litigious. For example, Boxer Chuck Wepner famously sued Sylvester Stallone for failing to compensate him properly for dramatizing his life story to make Rocky, a case that eventually settled out of court.
Tragically, camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed on a railroad trestle near Jesup, Georgia in 2014 when a freight train struck a crew filming the movie “Midnight Rider”. Eight other workers were injured in the accident.
Choosing the right insurer is crucial and even then, you may have issues. Most recently, Paramount sued its insurer refusing to cover the vast majority of its losses due to pandemic-related shutdowns on “Mission: Impossible 7.”
“According to the suit, the studio’s insurer, Chubb, has said it will pay only $1 million for COVID-19 losses under its ‘civil authority’ policy. Production was delayed seven times between February 2020 and June 2021, at least six of which were the result of the pandemic.
Paramount had a ‘cast insurance’ policy for the production, with a $100 million coverage limit. Such insurance is intended to cover losses that result when a film’s key personnel — such as star Tom Cruise or director Christopher McQuarrie — is unavailable due to sickness, death or kidnapping.
Paramount maintains that the pandemic-related shutdowns should have triggered that provision of the policy, because the shutdowns were intended to protect the cast from getting sick.
Chubb however, has maintained that the COVID shutdowns are covered only under the studio’s ‘civil authority’ policy that covers costs that are the result of government-mandated shutdowns. That policy carries a $1 million dollar limit.” - Variety
Film Equipment Insurance Companies Wrap Up
For legal reasons, nearly every location or financier requires that a production company or filmmaker carry some form of insurance. At the very least, a general liability policy that covers property damage and bodily injury to third parties. But a smart and thoughtful producer will want to sit with a broker and determine the most cost effective, specific coverage needed that will best protect the production, and ensure the safety of its cast and crew.