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Lights, camera, insurance: Feature film coverage

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The global film industry is projecting healthy gains with forecasts set to increase from $38 billion in 2016 to more than $50 billion by 20201. One thing that many do not realize is that insurance is needed before any filmmaker can say ‘Lights, camera, action.’ This continues beyond box office movies and is the case with commercials, music videos, and television programs as well.

Knowing exactly which coverage is needed based on varying situations is the job of an experienced insurance broker. Retail brokers and agents should lean on experts with extensive knowledge of the film, television and media industry to educate themselves and ensure their clients have comprehensive coverage for their next take.

Production Insurance

Whether producing a feature film, commercial advertisement, music video, or television program, Production Insurance is required to protect property, crew, and the budget. Accidents or injury to cast members, damage to film footage, faulty equipment, or a damaged location can all be contributors that are covered under Production Insurance.

Since no two films are alike, each policy needs to be specifically tailored to meet all relevant requirements of any one given production. Coverage may vary, including Adverse Weather, Terrorism and War, General Liability, and a whole host of other forms of insurance.

Recent scandals rock Hollywood films

Allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood elite, such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, have shaken the industry. These unfortunate allegations have caused multimillion-dollar movie and television projects to stall or even be cancelled.

“In the instance of celebrity scandals, this is not covered by Production Insurance,” said Derek Townshend, Film and Media Executive, Chesterfield Insurance Brokers in London.

Since no two films are alike, each policy needs to be specifically tailored to meet all relevant requirements of any one given production.

Following one particular allegation, Chesterfield was able to quickly put together a package that enabled relevant production to be completed on time. “This sort of situation may very well happen in the future if more of these abuse cases are revealed—making it important for agents to partner with experts who know how to best package policies, swiftly, for production to continue.”

Cast Insurance and Essential Elements in film

Cast Insurance and Essential Element Coverage is necessary for certain actors or directors whose presence is required to complete a film and are designated as an Essential Element risk. Townshend explains, “Production of a film could be abandoned at any time if an Essential Element were to get sick.”

Townshend added, “There is often a challenge in attaining coverage for persons who are older, especially those in their 70s and 80s. This may produce a higher premium or deductible and, in certain circumstances, additional Personal Accident Insurance may be needed to satisfy the requirements of producers, financiers, and distribution.”

Script reading

Filming has the potential to take place in multiple locations. Due to this, arrangements for local Liability Insurance, as well as Travel Insurance and Aviation Liability for any chartered private aircraft, may be needed.

“One of the first items we ask for is the script, followed by shooting schedules, and budget in order to identify risks and exposures,” said Townshend. Any subsequent changes to the script or schedule need to be reviewed to ensure coverage is always in place. “We often get script changes on a daily basis, and read them closely to stay in front of any issues.”

Regular dialogue with producers and production offices through telephone calls and emails is a necessity to confirm policy details. Andrew Thacker, Executive Director, Chesterfield Insurance Brokers said, “We need to be available on a 24-hour basis throughout the duration of filming.”

For instance, Thacker recalled a time when one film gave them two hours to place coverage for an actor that wanted to dive off of a cliff into the water below. The height of the dive was determined too great for the actor, and a change had to be made.

That’s a wrap

With approximately 1.2 billion movie tickets sold in the U.S. annually1, protecting every aspect on the business side of film is important.

Working with actors can be challenging at times, and it takes an expert broker to navigate the insurance process. For instance, on one major film in 2017, an actor decided not to make themselves available for medical testing – a routine part of Essential Element coverage – according to Townshend. This choice necessitated the need for Chesterfield to negotiate a separate insurance coverage for the actor, resulting in an increased premium.

Unusual situations like these, though avoidable, can be regular occurrences when working in the world of film. Insurance is a crucial and critical part for all movies that often flies under the radar.

Brokers and agents can lean on experts like Townshend and Thacker to educate themselves on this niche industry and resolve global situations that require urgent attention.


  1. Statista
  2. Lloyd’s of London

Learn more about coverage for Feature Films.

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