Preparing For the Worst
Anything can happen on a movie set: equipment can be stolen, cast or crew members can be hurt, or locations can be damaged. What happens if a light falls and burns the carpet or a grip trips and sprains an ankle? In each of these instances, you, the filmmaker, are personally liable. With the high costs of equipment replacement or repair, medical costs, and lawsuits, it is essential to have production insurance. In most instances, the production will be required to provide proof of insurance when you rent equipment or use a location.
What Do You Need?
Insurance is an expensive and sometimes confusing aspect of moviemaking. When confronted with the list of potential insurance packages understand that there are four types of insurance every production needs to purchase:
• General liability insurance – Purchase a $1,000,000 general liability policy. Most locations will require at least this amount of coverage, although use of stunts, pyrotechnics, or any other factors outside of what the general policy covers will require an increase in coverage. A one-year, $1,000,000 general liability policy in Los Angeles costs around $2150. This premium may change depending on the city in which you live. Although there are short-term policies available, the yearlong is the most affordable.
• Equipment insurance – Purchase the amount needed to cover the cost of replacement of all the equipment on set. If you’re shooting with $100,000 worth of equipment, then purchase a $100,000 equipment insurance policy. All camera and equipment rental facilities will require you to provide proof of equipment insurance before giving you the gear.
• Worker’s compensation – Any employer must, by law, have worker’s comp insurance to cover any injuries to cast and crew on set.
• Errors and omissions insurance – Usually purchased when a film is about to be picked up by a domestic distributor, E&O insurance may be paid for by the distributor.
Certificate of Insurance
When securing a location or renting equipment you may need to provide proof that the production is insured. The official form that is used is called a “certificate of insurance”. You can obtain one for free simply by calling your insurance company and requesting a certificate of insurance. They will ask you the name, address, and phone number of the company or individual you are providing the certificate to and whether you want that company or person to be listed as additionally insured. This will place their name on the policy, so in the event of a claim, they can call it in and collect for themselves.
Never step foot on set unless you’re protected with the proper insurance policy – if something happens, you’ll be glad you did.