How Camera Equipment Insurance Works in Los Angeles, CA
By: The Athos Team
October 19, 2021
Anyone working on a film or TV set knows how quickly things can go wrong. So while you may have a great script, hair and makeup done, and the lighting perfect, you’re never truly ready without camera equipment insurance.
We know how hard it can be to keep costs low and stay under budget, so while it can seem like an unnecessary expense, camera equipment insurance is more affordable than you might think. Let’s talk about what camera equipment insurance is and why it’s so vital.
What Is Camera Equipment Insurance?
Camera equipment is expensive, and whether you own it, rented it, or borrowed it for the shoot, insurance protects you from financial liability if something goes wrong. Which it often does! (See our article “10 On Set Catastrophes That Really Happened” if you don’t believe us!) Equipment can be damaged, stolen, dropped, knocked over, spilled on, elbowed, jostled, slapped, dropped off a roof, you name it, it’s probably happened on a set somewhere. Spend enough time in the industry and you’re bound to have your own story. And when you do, you’re not going to be on the hook for thousands of dollars if you have the right insurance.
This kind of insurance is also referred to as Inland Marine Equipment Insurance. That name might sound strange when talking about film equipment, but don't let it throw you off. Inland Marine Equipment insurance covers transportable equipment and other property. The name began as Ocean Marine Insurance when the equipment was transported by boat, and it just kind of stuck. And sometimes it’s referred to as a Floater policy because the coverage "floats" with the equipment wherever it goes, as outlined in the policy. But whatever the cute nicknames, the policy has one important job- to protect you from losing a lot of money if your equipment gets damaged.
Why Do You Need Insurance?
While TV and film sets are governed by many laws, one of these is Murphy's law: anything that can go wrong on set will! While we always hope every shoot goes off without a hitch, there are a nearly unlimited number of possible mishaps, and they’re often not what you’d expect. And you certainly can’t prepare for what you can’t anticipate! Often, camera insurance is going to be a lot cheaper than repairing or replacing a damaged camera, which can easily send you over budget. And any delay in production can be even more costly. Ultimately, it can be worth it just for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that whatever happens on set, you’re covered.
And if you’re renting equipment, it’s usually required that you have it insured as well.
What Does Camera Equipment Insurance Cover?
Like the movies and shows we make here, camera equipment insurance in LA comes in many varieties. So the cost of insurance and coverage you purchase are going to vary based on your needs. Most insurance companies have various options to suit the needs of your production. We have another detailed article about the various types of insurance, but let’s go over a few of the main variables and types.
Short-term equipment rental insurance is for equipment that you have rented for a limited time or just one project. You can also get annual production equipment insurance for equipment that you own or have rented long-term. And then there’s annual photography equipment insurance, which covers damages that might happen to your photography camera.
When you have a policy with Athos, getting a copy of it is as easy as sending an email, as all of our policies are sent through email to reduce environmental impact. It’ll be in your inbox for easy reference. And getting a copy of your loss history is as simple as emailing the request along with the policy holder's name and policy number. We keep it easy and convenient.
Athos insurance covers a wide range of casualties that your equipment might encounter, including common mishaps like accidental damage, theft, smoke or water damage, falling objects, and transit and shipping. It also covers less common, but equally worrisome problems like fires, earthquakes, lightning, explosions, windstorms, hail, floods, and acts of terrorism. There are also optional add-ons for more specific settings- if you’re going to be filming around water, you can get insurance for any equipment that’ll be floating or underwater.
And Athos policies are valid around the globe, so if your production takes you to some far flung location, your policy works there as well. Just keep in mind that countries with US sanctions are not covered, like Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. And, on the topic of travel- your equipment is covered while in transit or on airlines as well! These policies cover any damages or theft after your equipment is checked into an airline.
A few other helpful hints when traveling for production; make sure to be clear on what’s allowed on the plane. The last thing you want is for a TSA agent to seize any of your equipment. And be sure to break down your gear as much as possible when packing. This will make it easier and faster for TSA agents to inspect it, and less likely that something will break during inspection and transit.
Let’s be honest- aerial shots from drones look awesome, and you can’t really get that shot any other way. But drones also bring in a number of new risks you’ll need covered. At Athos, we offer special insurance for drone, which covers loss or damage to your drone, accessories, mounted equipment, and spare parts. It also protects you from liability if your drone causes bodily injury or property damage, and includes legal fees and medical bills.
This insurance is only available for commercial drone use, meaning that it must be used in connection with a business. It’s also only covered when flown in the U.S. There are additional worldwide use policies, so if you need that, contact Athos for a quote. And you’ll buy drone insurance based on how long you need it for; you can get it anywhere from hourly, to monthly, or annual. And if you have multiple drones, you’ll need multiple policies. And the best part is, you can get your official certificate of drone insurance online instantly!
Protecting Your Gear
In addition to insurance, there are a few other steps we recommend for protecting your gear out in the world. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat common to have equipment stolen from cars. This may seem like common sense, but if you can’t take it with you, make sure it’s in the trunk and not visible, or have someone watch it. And always park in a secure, well-lit area when you have expensive equipment with you.
In terms of weather, make sure to prepare for shooting conditions you may not expect. Investing in some rain covers has saved many a shoot day, but a well-placed trash bag can usually work in a pinch. A lens hood can help protect the lens, as can an optical flat to shield it from dust and sand, which is easier to replace than a lens if it should get scratched. Wipe your gear off after it rains (but never wipe the lens with your shirt!), and you can even throw some silica gel packets into your camera bag to soak up extra moisture.
When it comes to heat, don’t leave gear in a hot, closed car, and always give your camera a half hour to adjust when moving from one extreme temperature to another, before turning it on. Keep gear in the shade when not being used, and keep track of the camera’s temperature when using it in the sun. Again, these are mostly common sense moves to help keep things running smoothly.
Call Us for a Quote
Hopefully you now see how vital equipment insurance is to any production, and have a better idea of what it covers. Take that next step of making sure you’re truly ready for whatever the shoot might throw at you, by getting the right policy. Athos insurance agents can help tailor a policy to your exact needs, so you’re covering everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Give us a call and we’ll walk you through the process!