Production Insurance for Indie Films

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Tl;dr - Production insurance is one of those necessary evils that can pop up when you are least prepared for it, but now it's easier than ever to get insured.
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Production Insurance for Indie Films

Look at this juicy filmmaking topic – production insurance! (yawn)

I know it’s just about the opposite of what most people want to talk about when thinking about making a film. It’s boring, it’s not sexy, it’s not fun.

But, it’s necessary, so let’s take a look.

What Is Production Insurance?

Photographer: frank mckenna | Source: Unsplash

In simple terms, production insurance can be thought of as similar to homeowners insurance or renters insurance.

Filmmakers pay a fee to an insurance company to protect from liabilities related to the production of your film or video.

After all, film sets are filled with many dangers (both to humans and to property), so most locations, equipment rental companies, and labor unions won’t let you operate without insurance.

There are a few different kinds of insurance that are important to know – short term, long term, and what is called DICE. We will get into all of these later on in this article.

Types of Insurance

Let’s dive into some of the differences between the types of insurance available for your production.

A typical film insurance policy will cover injuries on set, equipment damage, copyright claims, and any car operated for the production, whether it’s a PA going on a meal run or a union truck driver hauling a trailer. Source: (wrapbook.com)

Short-Term Production Insurance

Short-term insurance is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Filmmakers can purchase policies that can cover productions for as little as just one day.

This is a great option for things like commercials, music videos, digital shoots (aka YouTube videos), and anything else where buying a longer-term policy doesn’t make financial sense.

It is good practice to consider additional days that may require coverage. For example, prep-days, scout days, build days and any other day where you are employing people to work on your project might need to be covered.

Short term insurance typically covers a maximum of 60-days for productions with smaller budgets – under $1,000,000. Source: (mfeinsurance.com)

Long-Term Production Insurance

Long-term insurance is a great option for production companies that operate year-round on multiple different projects.

If you are a video vendor for large corporations, they often require production insurance, and there’s nothing worse than being called up for a big gig only to realize you don’t have the insurance coverage necessary to accept the job.

A long-term policy is also beneficial for companies or individuals who rent out equipment, as there are different types of equipment policies that can cover things like theft and damage while rented out. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent or company to make sure you’ve selected the best policy for what you need as an equipment renter.

DICE Annual Insurance

Ah yes, the Diceman. This is a specific type of insurance policy that provides coverage for specialized types of productions such as documentaries, industrial, commercial, and educational films. (Thus, DICE)

That’s not the hard end to what DICE policies cover. They may also cover shorts and music videos.

Once again, there’s no “standard” policy since it highly depends on the type of project(s) you are creating. Things like stunts, pyrotechnics, filming on water, etc. can all affect your policy and need to be accounted for when purchasing insurance coverage.

How Much is it Going to Cost?

While the cost is going to vary depending on your specific requirements, one thing to note is that you’ll probably spend at least a couple thousand dollars.

“It is best to budget 2.5% of your total budget for video production insurance.” Source: (studiobinder.com)

There are other alternatives if, for whatever reason, you are just needing insurance to cover the rental of a few pieces of equipment, for example.

ShareGrid & KitSplit

Canon CN-E 24mm and 14mm Primes
Photographer: ShareGrid | Source: Unsplash

These are two examples of a new type of equipment rental option.

ShareGrid and KitSplit are online platforms where individuals or companies can list their equipment up for rent on the platform for indie filmmakers to rent from.

Typically the platform provides insurance options, both short-term and long-term, with the added option for using a “damage waiver”.

A damage waiver is meant to be there in lieu of an insurance policy for rentals under a certain amount of money.

For example, if you get hired for a quick shoot and realize that you need an extra battery in order to cover your butt on the day, you can do so through ShareGrid without having to pull out $2500 insurance policy.

Additionally, as a renter, ShareGrid and KitSplit cover rented equipment up to a certain amount (I believe $20,000).

Now, if you want to get a full short-term or long-term production insurance policy through ShareGrid, you can also do so relatively easily, just by filling out a little bit of info through their insurance partner sites.

This info is found in the backend of your account by going to Settings, then Insurance and choosing the correct tab on the top for long term or short term insurance.

ShareGrid Production Insurance
ShareGrid Insurance Options

Go Forth

Now that you’ve got everything figured out in terms of insurance, get out there and make your films!

Leave us a comment to say “hi!” and let us know how your projects are going.

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