Need A New Year's Resolution? Get Your Project Insured
With the year coming to a close we have a whole new year to look forward. For your New Year's resolution how about getting your project and equipment insured? I know you might be thinking that insurance in not in the budget but you'd be surprised at inexpensive (and helpful) it can be.
Equipment insurance, technically known as “inland marine insurance,” is offered to businesses and individuals on a primary basis and protects a variety of losses to production equipment both owned and rented. If you own production equipment, you’re better off purchasing an annual policy to protect against theft, damage and other types of loss. If you strictly rent on an as needed basis, you can purchase a rented equipment policy for the total replacement value of the package- policy terms are available on a short term and annual basis. Most productions are on a case-by-case basis, which is why you want to consult a production insurance broker for assistance. You can expect to spend around $200 to a few thousand dollars depending on the level of coverage. The coverage can be applied to cameras, lenses, lighting/grip, props, sets, wardrobes, film/media, monies/securities and other production related property that moves from point A to B. Most inland marine policies provide coverage on a worldwide basis.
Beginning filmmakers often don't take into account what could happen to their equipment while on a shoot that could be at the beach or filming an action sequence. Many insurance claims often occur during transit to different set locations and is usually overlooked. Even though you can find a DSLR for around $1500, you don't want to have to replace the one you borrowed from your roommate or that you just got after saving up for months when your rain shot ends up ruining the circuit board. In addition, many freelancers provide their own insurance and will be much more willing to work with you if they know that their equipment (and their livelihood) is covered in case anything should happen.
Production liability insurance is another often overlooked necessity for even small scale productions. 9 out of 10 times, producers are required to carry liability insurance to secure locations, pull permits and even win a bid for a shoot. Production liability protects you against third party bodily injury and property damage claims (injury to a passerby or damage to a set location). Like equipment insurance, liability can also be purchased on a short term or annual basis. Many new filmmakers will call in friends and family, turn to crowdsourcing platforms like ProCreate, and even post on old-fashioned job boards such as Craigslist to raise funds for their picture. Trying to keep the budget down is essential in creating most of these projects but accidents can and do happen. Just take a look at this List of Film Set Accidents dating back to the early 1900’s.
Regarding the protection of cast and crew members, Workers Compensation Insurance is available and protects against accident, sickness and death. While on set, you, your actors and crew need to be protected more than anything if something were to go wrong. In many states, if you engage any person by contract for specific work and they are considered “for hire,” then you are required to carry Workers Compensation Insurance. Any time an exchange of money and or a contract is in place, this rule applies.
The great news is that you don't need to buy a huge annual insurance package for your weekend shoot, nor do you need to start a fundraising campaign for insurance alone. Basic short term policies start around $250-$350 and can be packaged with equipment insurance for a discount. Workers Compensation costs vary based on state and total payroll. Consult your broker for a quote. Overall, you can obtain production insurance more cheaply than you think, so you can focus on creating a great project instead of getting stuck in huge debt when a loss occurs.
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