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Production Insurance



What are the channels through which indie filmmakers in California secure the various coverages for feature projects?

I ask because I've been asked to help launch a new program for indie film, and I need to know if there is a relevant need for a competitive offering. I'm told the cost will be lower except for producers/companies with a bad claim history.

All sorts of comments are welcome. I'm looking for perspective.

Eric Belgau


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Production insurance in CA can be secured through:

12300 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90025 310-207-5432
Fax: 310-207-8526

10 Universal City Plaza, Suite 2800, Universal City, CA 91608 818-487-6100


Perhaps I didn't pose the question in entirely the right way.

I have one model telling me it's very viable. I'm looking for notes on the harsh realities. Are there any difficulties, resentments, or agonies associated with securing coverage out there in the real world that would validate the necessity of an indie-friendly program?

From filmmakers: how high a priority are the coverages in reality? Distributors require certain coverages to be in place, but do you usually just wait until the distribution deal is worked out?



Sorry, Steve. Bug eyes and a question mark can be really psychologically damaging to an existentialist. That's why I switched to Transcendental Meditation. All the question marks just sort of blend into one surreal, cosmic misunderstanding. Om. :)

Further clarification:

1. I run marketing at an Errors & Omissions Insurance brokerage to fund my writing habit.

2. One of the carriers we work with will be launching a media insurance program aimed at independent film with (I'm told) excellent rates for indie producers on the E&O coverage.

3. It makes sense to me to unite my two areas of focus (work for food and work for love) and sell insurance to production people that I know and don't know.

I'm in the forum to network with other filmmakers as a filmmaker. But I was hoping to see how possible it is to do a good business selling production insurance, or if the market is pretty much locked down. How receptive the producers out there are to getting comparative bids. That kind of thing.

We all have to eat, after all. And as a younger guy in LA with a gorgeous girlfriend, the food's expensive. :)

Thanks all.
Well, if you can supplement your income by writing (or at least referring) E&O insurance... sure, go for it.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone mentioning that they specifically needed E&O, though. If I had a large corporate client (such as AT&T) I'd definitely be looking for it... but I don't. :P

What are the benefits of having of having E&O, for the indie-filmmaker that makes short films that see a festival or two before being relegated to cable access? Or even larger budget self-financed features? They are not making them for paying clients, for whom the E&O is needed for.

Is there a market for it? Yes. How big? I have no idea... but if it's competitive coverage (and cheaper), you'll find the marketshare.


E&O is important for anything outside of the living room. I'll give an example of my own film because I know the business of it best.

I'm part of a group called the "Movie Mavericks" here in LA, and we're connected to the Cinema Libre studio. (For all you SoCal guys you should check them out. Wonderful, wonderful people to work with and an excellent post shop.) The concept of the group is that we help each other make our films, so there's a lot of spec work that flows back and forth.

My film is being made on a tiny budget, under a SAG limited exposition waiver, with star talent on deferred salary and the whole executive team trading work for an investment stake. It's a complicated financial setup. The film itself is a genre satire that borrows on classics of the genre for both commedy and commentary. So there are two major issues: flow of money and intellectual property.

As filmmakers, we're supposed to be very careful to keep everything above-the-board. Any time we screw up, we're open to a lawsuit, and E&O covers against those lawsuits.

In addition, in the real world, we do all kinds of things that open us up to potential liability. Most filmmakers are better at making movies than they are at making contracts, so there's always the potential for someone to be (or feel) taken advantage of. We go out and steal a lot of shots, and it's always possible that when we accidentally film a brutal murder scene in front of some company's billboard, they won't appreciate the brand exposition. And so on.

Given the escalation in litigation over the past few years, it's increasingly important to maintain adequate protection. In addition, most distributors require E&O to be in place before the picture goes out the door. Given how difficult it is to distribute a film at the best of times, it's always best to approach distribution with all the ducks in a row.

There are two ways of thinking. One is that it's always best, if you can afford it, to be as well covered as possible. The other is that it's better to be careful. I think (personal, nonprofessional opinion) that it's best to decide where you want your project to go and build the infrastructure for it. If you want it to be seen broadly, then do it all by the book. If you want to show at a couple festivals and on a couple local cable broadcasts, then why waste the money?

Some info anyway...