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Four Things Every Creative Pro Should Consider For Production Insurance

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Spotting a film crew in action can be exciting and intriguing for the general public. But behind the perceived glitz and glamour, experts in the broadcast industry know that managing a production through to transmission is just like any major project in any industry.

Risks are involved, and the consequences can be especially painful when so much passion and energy goes into producing the next piece of must-see audio visual content.

Andrew Leen, Director of Media for PIB Insurance Brokers, has over a decade of experience of providing specialist insurance advice to film, TV and media companies as well as freelancers. He is all too familiar with the pitfalls if adequate insurance isn't in place because it has been overlooked or, even worse, ignored if the pressure is on to drive down costs.

What's the big fuss about production insurance?
All productions carry an element of risk. For example, people (the crew, third party suppliers or even the general public) could get injured, media content that's taken hours to capture could get damaged in transit or corrupted, and equipment may go missing or be stolen.

Production insurance helps protect you against risks to the assets that you have, the people that you come into contact with on production, and can offer financial protection for your budget. By getting the right insurance in place, and spending a bit of time to check the finer details, problems can be avoided. Here's four things to consider as soon as a project is greenlit.

1. Have you got a contract in place and do you understand the terms?
Having a contract for your project means knowing where you stand and can prevent finger-pointing afterwards if something doesn't go to plan. Contracts also help your insurance broker to understand what cover you may need, and how to structure it. For example, you might need to consider:

• Equipment – If it takes several days to ship kit to you, should you insure it from when it leaves the hire firm's premises, or from when it arrives on location?
• Team – Are you responsible for the actions of the team who is building a set for you. Or are they covered by their own insurance?
• Liability – How much liability cover do you need to hold for the location?
• Talent – If there's a no-show with the talent you've booked, are your costs covered?

A lawyer should scrutinise contracts for you, and ensure that you assume no more liabilities than exist in law, as your insurance will most likely exclude responsibilities that you assume are under contract, but that are not legally yours.

2. Count your kit in, test it, and count it out again.
Nominate one person to receive hired kit and make sure it's all there. Your insurance policy may exclude 'Mysterious Disappearance', where you believe something was delivered, but it appears to have vanished. Your nominated person should ensure the equipment operates as it should before work starts. Some insurance covers exclude claims where operational checks have not been carried out.

When the job is done, do the same in reverse. Check all kit is undamaged, and sign it off with a colleague who can act as a second pair of eyes for you. Look out for scratched lenses, damaged camera bodies, or missing power adaptors for example. Then count it out again with the hire company.

3. Complete full risk assessments and share them
Every production needs a risk assessment in written form and acknowledged by everyone involved - including freelancers or third-party suppliers – to ensure they understand what's involved and what to look out for. It's good practice to include a risk assessment in your call sheet ahead of a shoot.
And remember to re-assess the risk when someone on set has that 'lightbulb moment' and chooses to change something on the day!

4. It's all in the... timing
Finally, every production company or freelancer should engage with their insurance broker at the earliest opportunity. This gives you both more time to engage in a conversation to understand the project and work out the best way forward.

If you have a particularly ambitious production on the cards, then a specialist media insurance broker is essential. They should have the required knowledge and experience to help you identify and mitigate any potential risks, allowing you the creative headspace to focus on your production and enjoy it.

Article by Andrew Leen.

M: 07432 175954 | E:

This article is also available to read in the latest edition of Broadcast Film & Video here, page 44.

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