Lights! Camera! Action!

These are perhaps the three most exciting words in the film-making business. Despite the thrill of creating and releasing a film or related work, there always exists the potential for something to go wrong that could result in expensive damages, injuries, or a lawsuit.

A customized film production insurance policy can help protect you, your crew, and your assets and provide you with a certificate of insurance (COI) verifying you’re covered. It’s a vital part of your film production’s risk management plan.

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What Is Film Production Liability Insurance?

Film production liability insurance is a tailored policy that addresses the many liability risks a filmmaker or production team may face before, during, and after a shoot. What your policy should contain and its coverage limits depend on the details of your production and the potential risks you face.

What Liability Risks Does a Filmmaker Face?

Though making movies, shows, videos, and commercials can be an exciting and dynamic career, like any professional, filmmakers face a wide range of liability risks, including:

  • Copyright infringement
  • Defamation
  • Privacy violations
  • Intellectual property disputes
  • Third-party bodily injury and property damage
  • Damage to cameras and equipment
  • Contractual disputes
  • Professional negligence
  • Permit violations

How Can Filmmakers Mitigate Their Liability Risks?

There are many steps any filmmaker can take to mitigate their liability risks, such as:

  • Seek Legal Advice: Consult with an experienced entertainment attorney specializing in film and media law to review contracts, secure necessary permissions, and provide guidance on legal compliance (legal expense insurance can help cover the cost of hiring a lawyer).
  • Get Copyright Clearance: Ensure that all copyrighted materials used in the film, such as music, images, and footage, are appropriately licensed or cleared for use. Keep records of licenses and permissions obtained.
  • Have Signed Releases: Ensure you have written releases from individuals appearing in the film, especially in documentaries and reality-based projects. Actors, crew members, and any individuals whose likeness or personal information is used in the film should sign permission forms allowing you to use their images.
  • Script Clearance: Conduct a thorough script clearance to identify potential intellectual property issues or defamation risks before production begins.
  • Location Permissions: Ensure you have all required permits and permissions for filming in various locations, whether in public spaces or on private properties.
  • Safety First: Third-party bodily injuries are always a possibility. Offset that risk by implementing and enforcing rigorous safety rules on every set to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries to the cast, crew, and passersby.
  • Be Budget Mindful: Exercise responsible financial management to avoid disputes with investors or creditors due to financial mismanagement or cost overruns.
  • Music and Soundtrack Licensing: Any music used in your work must be licensed and cleared in advance to avoid copyright infringement claims.
  • Be Defamation Adverse: Caution is the order of the day whenever your work depicts real individuals or organizations. Consider using fictional characters or get consent from real-life individuals and organizations if necessary.
  • Read Contracts Carefully: Zero in on the details of all contracts, including those with actors, crew members, production companies, and distributors. Make sure the terms are clear and agreed upon by all parties. Having a lawyer review every contract you sign in advance may be wise.
  • Get Insured: A customized film production insurance policy is critical to protect your assets and reputation. It includes several types of coverages to cover your expenses if an unexpected accident or incident occurs or if facing the possibility of being sued. 

At a minimum, your filmmaker insurance policy should have general liability, commercial property, and errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. If you take footage using drones, you’ll also need drone liability coverage as part of your policy. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to include tools and equipment insurance to protect the rented and owned film-making equipment you use for each production if damaged, stolen, or lost.

Where to Get Low-Cost Filmmaker Business Insurance

Finding an affordable, comprehensive film production insurance policy is quick and easy through Zensurance.

Fill out our online application for a free quote. We’ll shop our partner network of over 50 Canadian insurance providers to find the coverage you need at a cost that suits your budget. Our friendly, experienced brokers will work with you to customize the policy, advise you on the coverage limits and exclusions, and ensure you’re adequately protected.

Then, you can concentrate on shooting your next award-winning production.

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About the Author: Justin Tisdale

Justin Tisdale is a Team Lead, Professional Lines, at Zensurance.