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Erin Pearson
July 16, 2020

The Complete Guide to Film Insurance

Film production insurance is a necessity in the filmmaking industry. In order to protect your assets, your investors, cast, crew, equipment... everything, you need to have proper production insurance.

What Is Film Production Insurance?

The purpose of film production insurance is to protect production companies, entities, or other film-related projects from expensive liability claims. If something gets lost, broken, or stolen, you’ll want to be covered. If someone gets sick or injured, you’ll want to have coverage for that too. Film production insurance isn’t merely for the benefit of the production, but for everyone involved.

What Does Film Production Insurance Cover?

Film productions are like fingerprints - no two are the same, so you’ll need an insurance policy that is tailored to fit your needs. Plus, film insurance policies vary from broker to broker, so you’ll need to shop around a bit. To help you in your search, we have listed the 11 Best Film Production Insurance Companies in Los Angeles.

Look for a policy that will protect your production company from liabilities related to vehicle accidents, on set injuries, theft, loss, or damage to owned or rented equipment like cameras, lighting rigs, lenses, etc.

What Type of Film Production Insurance Policy Is Best?

First of all, consider what you need.

Short-term policy

A short-term policy will cover you on a project to project basis. If you only have one project on the books like a commercial, music video, short film, or a feature that can be shot in a short period of time. A short-term policy can cover you for as little as one day.

Long-term policy

A long-term policy is for production companies or filmmakers who have several projects scheduled over a period of time.

Annual policy

An annual policy is for filmmakers/production companies who plan to shoot multiple times over the course of the year. Annual video production insurance is a good idea if you have a production company, own equipment that you rent to other productions, you are a freelance producer with a minimum of four productions in a year, you are producing an independent film.

Keep in mind, the more risk you have involved in your film or project, the more your insurance policy will cost. If you are making a low budget film, keeping stunts, animals, and explosions to a minimum is important for keeping your insurance costs low as well.

Types of Film Production Insurance Policies

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance covers most types of damage to film locations and may cover injury to anyone on set who isn’t working on the film. General liability insurance doesn’t usually cover claims caused by employee auto accidents while working.

Inland Marine Insurance

Inland marine insurance covers film equipment used during filming and includes damage, loss, and theft of rented or owned equipment. An inland marine insurance policy usually covers the value of the equipment you rented on your application. Most rental houses require 250k -500k minimum for professional gear rental. Regardless of what is actually rented. Equipment insurance only covers film and video production, not specialized shoots like music videos. Errors and Omissions Insurance

This type of insurance protects you against claims of unauthorized use of copyrighted material, titles, characters, ideas, formats, plots, and other various forms of plagiarism. Errors and omission insurance also protects against unfair competition, defamation, and invasion of privacy. Under this policy, you may need an entertainment lawyer to counsel you to review your case.

Before You Hire an Insurance Broker

In order to obtain film production insurance, you need to have a broker and you can only have one broker at a time, so it’s imperative that you choose the right one.

You’ll want to:

  • Find someone you are comfortable with, who you won’t hesitate to reach out to when a problem or question arises.
  • Find an agent experienced in film production insurance who will go to bat for you. (Your policy, coverage, and rates depend on the quality of your agent.)
  • Make sure they are an entertainment insurance broker, they’ll know how to best package your policies to give you the most coverage at the best rate. Work with someone who comes recommended by peers you respect.

What to Say to the Insurance Broker

I like to be prepared for business calls. I don’t like to go into a meeting of any sort without knowing what I need to ask and what information I need to be prepared to give. These are some things your insurance broker will need to know to get you started.

  • How does your production company function?
  • What kind of project are you producing?
  • Are you working with animals?
  • Are you working with heavy explosions?
  • Will there be stunts?
  • Will you have weapons on set? (gunfights, sword fights, knives, etc.)
  • What size cast and crew are you planning to work with?
  • Will you be on location or in a studio?
  • Are you renting equipment and what is the estimated cost?

Certificates of Insurance

Film productions are unique. The hours are unsteady. We work around the clock, on weekends and things need to happen fast. This is where your certificate of insurance (COI) comes in handy. At any given moment, you may need to provide your certificate of insurance to a vendor or crew member. Keep your COI in a safe and accessible place.

Coverage areas

A coverage area is where your film insurance policy takes effect. Purchase your film production insurance for where your production is taking place. If you are choosing a short term or an annual policy, ensure your location is covered. If you choose a domestic policy, make sure you are covered in all states (or at least all states you are filming in). If you are purchasing international coverage, make sure all the countries you plan to shoot in are covered.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance

Worker’s compensation insurance protects you if anything happens to one of your employees on the job. If you work as an independent contractor, paid full rate with no taxes withheld, provide the production with a w-9 for labor, and/or gear you will need WCI.

Your workers’ compensation policy can cover your payroll cast and crew, 1099 freelancers (and volunteers), and your working crew outside of general production. Your policy should be able to meet the legal requirement of an independent contractor, protect you from claims arising from injuries to your crew, provide for you in the case of injury on the job, and cover things like medical costs, loss of work or death benefits if injuries while working.


A deductible is an amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance starts to pay for things. The average film deductible amount is around $2500. That means, if something breaks or is stolen, you are responsible for covering the first $2500 of that item's value. With insurance policies, you are offered different deductibles, the higher the deductible, the lower your policy costs. The lower your deductible, the more expensive your film insurance policy.

Specialty Insurance

Keep in mind, not all brokers can handle add-ons, so if you know these things are coming up in your shoots or if there is a good chance they will be sure to mention this to the brokers you are thinking about working with. Special policies can always be added to an existing policy. These items can be added for any number of days or to the rest of an annual or short term policy. Some of these add-ons might include:

  • Water and underwater filming with use of the underwater gear
  • Drones
  • Recreational Vehicles such as ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, etc
  • Working Animals
  • Weapons
  • Stunts
  • Aircraft insurance for transporting crew
  • Pyro including squibs, explosions, pyrotechnics, fire, etc
  • Aerial Photography

Helpful Insurance Terms and Definitions

  • Above the Line (ATL) - Above-the-line costs are those above the gross profit line. This usually includes expenditures that are negotiated or spent before filming begins- rights for the material the script is based on, salaries for the screenwriter, producers, lead actors, and director.
  • Adverse Weather - Covers the expense bad weather adds to the production, whether that be due to the interruption or abandonment of the production.
  • Below the line - Refers to costs below gross profit, namely operating expenses. This includes salaries of non-starring cast members and crew, use of the film studio and technical equipment and travel, location, catering costs, etc.
  • Bereavement - Compensates the production company for the net loss or for the extra expenses of an insured production to begin or complete principal photography, due to serious illness or death of an immediate family member of any insured director or artist.
  • Care, Custody, and Control - This policy provides legal liability coverage for the damage, destruction, or loss of property in the care, custody, or control of the production company.
  • Civil Authority - Coverage that reimburses a production for delays due to the action of a government authority.
  • Copyright Report - a report outlining copyright procedures required to obtain Errors and Omissions Coverage.
  • DICE - Stands for “Documentary, Industrial, Commercial, Educational”.This legal liability coverage includes defense costs for claims alleging unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters and plots; plagiarism, and unfair competition. Additionally provides coverage for slander, libel, defamation of character, or invasion of privacy.
  • Entertainment Package - The standard policy that covers all property and business interruption expenses on productions.
  • Exclusion - A specific risk or loss not covered by the insurance policy.
  • Foreign liability - Policy covering bodily injury and property damage due to accidents outside of the USA and Canada.
  • Guild Travel Accident - Limited travel accident insurance coverage required by the guild or union contracts with the producer.
  • Jurisdiction - The legal environment that will apply to an insurance contract.
  • Loan out company - A legal business entity established for the purpose of providing the personal services of its owner/employee to third parties.
  • Miscellaneous Equipment - Protection against loss or damage to property such as portable generators, cameras, lenses, lighting, and sound equipment that the production company has rented.
  • Mysterious Disappearance - Claims for mysterious or unexplained disappearances that are not typically covered by insurance.
  • Negative Film - Covers the cost of recreating lost or damaged shots. If it’s impossible to reshoot, negative film coverage will reimburse the insured production’s expenses obtained by the production.
  • Quote - An outline of coverage and premiums from the insurance company based on the script and production budget. A quote is an estimate of what your rate could be with a potential insurance carrier.
  • Railroad protective - Exactly what it sounds like. This policy covers claims that arise due to the production at or near railroads. Railroad protective covers bodily injury liability, physical damage to the railroad property, and property damage liability.
  • Risk Management - The forecasting and evaluation of financial risks together with the identification of procedures to avoid or minimize their impact.
  • Subrogate - The legal right held by most insurance carriers to legally pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured. This is done in order to recover the amount of the claim paid by the insurance carrier to the insured for the loss.
  • Title coverage - A single film title cannot be copyrighted. A lawyer should run a title search during the development process to discover whether or not the title has been used before.
  • Umbrella - A policy that protects against catastrophic losses that are written in addition to other primary liability policies.
  • Voluntary Workers’ Compensation - An extension of WCI benefits to employees who might not be eligible for benefits under WCI law.
  • Workers’ Compensation (WCI) - coverage required by the state for all temporary or permanent cast and crew members.
About Topsheet

Topsheet is an entertainment tech company specializing in production payroll. We service clients from commercials for Fortune 500 to feature films. We are born in technology, built with filmmakers in mind.

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