The Seed&Spark Blog

Ask not "Do I need insurance?" Only: "What kind?"

November 26, 2012

• Derek Sherman

A passion for film and insurance don’t usually go together. Insurance can be one of those items that lingers low on the to-do list. Yet you KNOW you need it, especially when it’s too late! As an independent insurance agency, we work with our clients to secure a customized insurance program that addresses each production’s needs. Our collective goal is to mitigate inherent risk and avoid being in the position of losing hard earned money over a lawsuit, non-compliance letter or catastrophic event.

The insurance agency’s job is to make sure their clients are making the most informed decisions about prioritizing their insurance related matters. You can help them help you by answering some questions for yourself during development and pre-production.

1. Do I need to provide workers’ compensation and short term disability for my employees?

If you're going through SAG, paying people on W-2's or using uninsured subcontractors, the answer is YES. If you need help knowing more about exactly what the minimums are, you can ask your SAG liaison about what SAG requires, and your accountant about the requirements in the state you where you are filming.

2. Do I need insurance for my equipment, rental equipment? Call your rental companies and find out the total dollar cost of your rentals. You can use that information to set responsible insurance limits. You don’t need to break the bank over-estimating how much you need to insure.

3. Do I need insurance to film at any of my locations? Sometimes locations will have specific insurance needs. Their rental agreements will likely include the minimum liability limit. This will help you determine your needs for your general liability policy.

4. Do I need to insure my cast? Key person insurance is usually only required by investors for very high budget productions as it is very expensive to procure. However, if you have a big name attached to your project, you may be required by the equity investors you attract with that big name to insure his/her attachment to the project.

5. Do I need professional liability insurance? (aka Errors and Omission insurance) This insurance is designed to protect producers from any suits that arise from alleged copyright infringement, libel, slander, privacy issues. It’s a protection you may want to have against the chance something ends up in the final cut of the film (like a brand name or someone’s face) that you didn’t get permission to use. You have to weigh the risk here against the up-front cost of insuring against it.

These are the kinds of questions that, if addressed, will allow each filmmaker to make educated decisions on what they can afford and determine the optimal insurance program for their productions. You can then work with your insurance agent to put together the most affordable package that covers all of what you need and none of what you don't.

Derek Sherman is an independent insurance professional since 2002. With a commitment to customer service, he has formed lasting business relationships and attracted many new accounts. A dedicated insurance professional, Derek brings a personal touch and customized services to each of his clients, making sure they get all the attention and information they need to make informed decisions regarding their insurance needs. Taking the time to understand his client’s business goals and risk tolerance, Derek offers sound advice and guidance to help them secure the insurance protection that’s right for them.



Derek Sherman



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