Helpful Insurance Tips

How Camera Equipment Insurance Works in Los Angeles, CA

By: The Athos Team

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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.

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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. 

Photo by Jakob Owens on  Unsplash

 

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. 

Drone Insurance

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. 

Photo by  david henrichs on  Unsplash

 

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!

Worker's Compensation for Film Productions: The Basic Guide

By: Christina Lam

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You’ve probably heard the term “workers’ comp,” but unless you’re in HR or a business owner, it may just sound like another buzz word that gets thrown around. Let’s talk about what workers compensation is and how it relates to film production. 

Workers comp, which is short for “workers' compensation,” is insurance coverage that you take out for your business that reimburses employees for work-related illness or if they're injured on the job. Because let’s face it, things happen. And sometimes those things happen to your employees. And when they do, they can sue you. So let’s get into it. 

The most important thing to distinguish is who counts as an employee, and who doesn’t. You’re an employee if you perform a service under contract, and your employer controls the work aspect of your life and benefits from your service. The “work aspects” of your life would be work hours, functions, pay rates, etc.   

Let’s say you own a cafe. Is the waiter an employee? The baker? The candlestick maker? The waiter is an employee. You make his schedule, you decide his pay rate. The baker is most likely the same, unless you source the pastries from another bakery. 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

As for the candlestick maker, I’m gonna need a little more information. Such as, where’d you find a candlestick maker? Does he make candles too, or just the sticks? You get the idea. 

So, how about the plumber who fixes your toilet? Nope, she’s an independent contractor. Why? Because you don’t control the work aspects of her life. You don't control her hours, pay, or work activities she’s required to perform. 

Now, if she’s an on-staff plumber because you’re all jamming the toilet so much, then she’d be an employee. But in that case, try re-evaluating your diet and then worry about who's covered by workers comp. 

So plumbers, and anyone else you contract with, are independent contractors. They tell you when they’ll get there and how much you’ll have to pay. 

This also means you don’t need workers comp insurance. If she flushes herself down the toilet, that’s not your fault. Her employer would need workers’ comp for her. 

You may be wondering, how does this relate to production, and why all the talk about coffee shops? Is it because I’ve been cooped up in the house too long writing these articles and am dreaming of a nice espresso and croissant? Most likely, yes. But, it’s also an easy example to start with. 

When it comes to film production, most people on set are independent contractors. These include ADs, Production assistants, grips, gaffers, camera crew, etc. There are employees as well, usually receptionists, assistants, etc, who are hired annually or part-time and given a W-2. But most of the folks you see on set, scurrying around, carrying equipment, frantically shouting that we’re “burning daylight” are contractors, who are paid by 1099s. While it’s technically not required to cover independent contractors under workers comp, it is recommended, and it’s advantageous for production companies to cover them in case of an injury on set. Production work can be higher risk than you might think, with a lot of moving parts, new locations all the time, and heavy equipment. So even though it costs production money to have contractors covered under a workers comp policy, and it’s usually not required, it’s still advantageous to both parties: for production to protect itself from liability, and for contractors themselves, since they generally aren’t providing their own. 
 

Photo by Rendy Novantino on Unsplash

Does your production need coverage options? Or, do you have any questions about what coverage you might need? Athos offers policies that include workers’ comp, and our friendly agents can help you find the right policy for your specific situation. 

But if you just need workers’ comp by itself, there are a few other options. You can go through your state fund or work with a payroll company that can add the workers’ comp coverage on top of payroll.

We always hope production goes smoothly and we can create that Hollywood magic without any major hiccups. But for the times when things go awry in ways we never even suspected, make sure you and your employees are covered. Give us a call today and know you’re in good hands. 

Everything You Need to Know About Production Insurance

By: Athos insurance

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Producing

Everything You Need to Know About Production Insurance

A Producer’s Guide to all-things Film Insurance

One of the most important things a filmmaker can ask for on-set is peace of mind. No matter the size of the shoot, there are a lot of moving parts and plenty that can go wrong.

With equipment, sets, talent, and crew to worry about, knowing you have a good production insurance policy ensures that no matter what happens, the show can go on.

Once you’ve got that covered, you can focus on the 2nd most important thing- what kind of snacks you’ll have on the set (but that’s for another article).

Your insurance policy should be set up before filming starts. The policy should cover exposures such as theft, accidental property damages, injury to spectators, injury to cast and crew members and more. If you’re shooting with animals (or bringing dinosaurs back to life), there are add-on policies for that!

Production insurance can be confusing, so we put together this simple but comprehensive guide to walk you through the finer points of picking a policy. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be an expert, or at least not visibly cringe when you hear the words “deductible” and “premium.”

FILM PRODUCTION INSURANCE

What is Film Production Insurance?

Film Production Insurance protects production companies and film projects from liabilities related to production by covering a specified dollar amount in the event of an insurance claim.

Production insurance covers your production activities, but you'll have to pick which coverages you want to purchase. For example, some productions may only need to rent equipment, and will not rent a space or location. These productions may only need equipment coverage. For productions renting locations or needing permits, they will need general liability insurance to cover this exposure.

Workers’ compensation covers injuries to cast and crew, including independent contractors (General liability insurance does not cover injuries to your cast or crew). If a vehicle is being rented, you'll need to add on Hired and Non-owned Auto liability and physical damage coverage. This is an add-on to a General Liability insurance policy.

WHY PRODUCTION INSURANCE

Why Do You Need Production Insurance?

A well-written film production insurance policy will protect filmmakers from the exposures associated with their shoot while filming, or at any time on set, including accidents when working with vehicles.

It’s also important to cover any possible thefts or accidental damages as well. Producers carry a lot of the responsibility for every person and piece of equipment on set. Depending on the needs of the specific production, the right insurance policy will protect you from various risks, including:

  • 3rd Party Bodily Injury
  • Damage or Theft of Rented Equipment
  • Injury to the Cast or Crew
  • Damage or Theft of Rental vehicles
  • Damage or Theft of Drones
  • Damages to Rented Location Property

There are other risks that may be covered as well. You always want to choose the coverage that fits your needs. You’d be surprised at some of the things we’ve seen happen!

TYPES OF PRODUCTION INSURANCE

What Types of Video and Film Production Insurance Policies Are Available?

Most often, video production insurance comes in two forms; short-term production insurance, and annual production insurance.

SHORT TERM FILM PRODUCTION INSURANCE

Short-term production insurance policies cover one single project. They’re flexible and can include one day of production, or up to one year. Your favorite music video where the guitarist jumps off the roof into the pool?

They probably had a short-term policy. When purchasing a short-term policy, be sure to include prep days in your coverage. (Also maybe don’t jump off any roofs).

ANNUAL PRODUCTION INSURANCE

Annual production insurance is a good option when you have multiple projects happening. An annual policy is meant to cover multiple projects throughout the year and can be renewed each year. An annual policy is recommended if you have at least 4 productions within 12 months.

BUYING FILM PRODUCTION INSURANCE

Who Buys Film Production Insurance?

Any individual or company producing a major or minor film, TV show, or commercial that involves a cast, crew, and/or set, should have production insurance. The premium costs vary, based on the length and scale of the project, and the specific coverages needed. Obviously, you don’t need an insurance policy before picking up your phone to film your puppy with the zoomies. But anyone filming anything professionally needs insurance.

Often, due to laws and regulations, you’ll be required to have a certain minimum coverage amount, regardless of the size and needs of your production. An insurance agent can help you find a policy that fits the needs of your production and satisfy these requirements. It can be complicated and it’s better to have an agent who can walk you through it.

We’ll cover these more specifically in the next section, but the most common types of production insurance are:

  • General Liability
  • Equipment coverage
  • Errors and Omissions
  • Non-Owned and Hired Auto Liability and Physical Damage
  • Workers Compensation

FILM PRODUCTION INSURANCE COVERAGE

What Does Film Production Insurance Cover?

Since no two film projects are the same, no two production insurance policies will be the same. An experienced insurance broker will know how to tailor each policy to your project or company's specific needs. It’s really helpful to get an expert involved, especially when some of the coverage becomes more technical than you care to get into. You shouldn’t need a master’s degree in production insurance to be able to buy the right policy.

A policy can cover many things, such as accident-related liability, injuries on set, theft, loss, or damage to owned or rented equipment. Some policies protect producers from copyright infringement. All kinds of fun stuff! We’ll talk about this more below.

ERRORS AND OMISSIONS

What is Errors and Omissions Insurance?

Errors and Omissions insurance protects your production company against claims of unauthorized usages, such as someone suing you with a claim that you stole their idea. This type of coverage includes characters, titles, copyrighted materials, plots, ideas, and various forms of plagiarism. So when your crazy aunt Betty sues you, saying that the crazy Aunt Bonnie character in your movie was based on her, you’re covered! (Next time, maybe name her Aunt Lucy?)

E&O insurance also covers you against claims of unfair competition, invasion of privacy, and defamation. Because of the nature of this type of insurance, you may need an attorney's assistance to help review and clear all the content you're using in your film first. An attorney will help review release agreements, distribution agreements, services agreements, and more.

Production companies generally need some form of Errors and Omissions insurance.

PRODUCTION INSURANCE COST

How Much Does Production Insurance Cost?

This is the “million-dollar question!” Luckily, it probably won’t be a “million-dollar answer.” But unfortunately, there’s no standard price list. Each policy is different, policy prices largely depend on the specific needs of the production, and whether the policy is either short-term or an annual production insurance policy.

Other factors that affect cost include:

  • Scale and activities of the project
  • The budget of the film
  • Insurance coverages needed
  • Length of production
  • Risks involved in the production.
  • Values of Rented Equipment on set

While the prices vary by policy, there are some numbers that can help provide a general idea of what your policy might cost.

Short-term film productions have policies that start around $390 and increase depending on the factors we discussed above. Annual or DICE policies (more on that below) often have premiums that range from $1,450 to $2,500 or more. So the scene where the grandmother skydives in for the wedding may drive up the cost just a bit.

Your premium will be a direct result of what you choose to cover, and the minimum premiums set by your provider.

Hopefully, these numbers, though just average starting points, can give you a better idea of what the cost of insurance might look like for your production.

SHORT TERM PRODUCTION INSURANCE VERSUS ANNUAL

What's the Difference Between Short-Term Production Insurance and Annual Production Insurance?

Short-term policies cover one project, and annual insurance policies are meant to cover multiple productions within the same year. We go over this in more detail in the “Types of Insurance” section above.

One exception to this rule is Feature Film Insurance. Feature Film Insurance is usually written on an annual basis but it is only meant to cover one project. This is often surprising to filmmakers, so it’s important to note.

DICE INSURANCE

What is DICE Insurance?

DICE stands for:

  • Documentaries
  • Industrial
  • Commercial
  • Educational films

DICE Production is the correct business classification when setting up annual production insurance. It represents the type of policy that provides pre-arranged coverage for the specialized production categories over the timespan of one year.

DICE insurance can cover documentaries, industrial films, commercials, educational films, music videos, and other types of short films. Longer-term productions like Feature Films, Television Series, Reality TV, and occasionally Short-Films, require separate policies.

However, some insurance carriers include feature films and short films in their DICE coverage program, but it depends on the budget and the type of content.

Are you still feeling a little confused about DICE insurance? Don’t worry! We have a breakdown and complete list of types of productions that are covered by DICE policies for you:

  • Animation
  • B-Roll
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Cell Phone/Mobile phone
  • Commercial
  • Community TV interview
  • Corporate Video
  • Demo Reel Shoot
  • Digital Video
  • Direct Sale Videos
  • Director's Reel
  • Documentary
  • Editing
  • Educational
  • Experimental Film
  • Film Festival Reel
  • Independent Feature, low budget
  • Industrial
  • Infomercial
  • Instructional
  • Internet Production
  • Live-Action Shots
  • Miscellaneous Productions
  • Music Video
  • Non-Airing Pilot
  • Photography Shoot
  • Pick-Up Shoot
  • Point of Sale Video
  • Post-Production
  • Pre-Production
  • Productions for miscellaneous mediums
  • Promotional
  • Public Access Program
  • Public Service Announcement
  • SAG Experimental
  • SAG Modified Low Budget
  • Sales
  • Video
  • Short-Film
  • Soap Opera
  • Spec Commercial
  • Spec Production
  • Student Film
  • Thesis Film
  • Trailer
  • Training Video
  • Video Biography
  • Video Game Shoot
  • Video Location Survey
  • Video Shoot (miscellaneous/other)

DICE INSURANCE

What You Should Know When Purchasing DICE Insurance:

When purchasing DICE insurance, there are a few things that you should clarify with your broker or insurance provider.

First thing’s first, make sure that your business is classified correctly.

Be as transparent as possible when discussing your business operations and coverage needs. Leaving out some seemingly minor details may feel harmless, but could lead to denial of your coverage.

Also, keep in mind that videographer and photographer insurance are not in the same class as the DICE production companies. Rates for these roles are typically cheaper since they target companies that operate on a smaller scale.

Think of family portrait studios and people filming private events, like weddings, birthday parties, and baby showers. If you dabble in both DICE work and small-scale private events, then you should get a DICE policy.

The Photographer and Videographer class by itself does not cover DICE production activities. When it comes to liability, if you don’t get the right insurance, you’re really rolling the, um, dice.

ENTERTAINMENT BROKER

What is an Entertainment Insurance Broker (or Agent)?

To purchase entertainment insurance, you’ll generally work with an entertainment insurance broker or agent. However, some insurance carriers do have direct online policies, but these policies can be complex, and you could end up paying for coverage you don’t need.

You’ll want an entertainment insurance agent who can walk you through the process when something unusual comes up. They can be your tour guide in the wilderness of purchasing an insurance policy.

Your insurance broker or agent will give you recommendations on coverage and will package your policies. It’s important to choose a knowledgeable and diligent entertainment insurance agent since they can help you get the best policy at the best rate.

Equally important is choosing an agent who specializes in entertainment insurance, since they understand the needs of the industry. An entertainment insurance broker who is inexperienced may set up your policy incorrectly or create long delays, which can affect your production timeline. The last thing you want is a delayed production because your friend’s sketchy insurance broker uncle got you the wrong policy.

ENTERTAINMENT BROKER QUESTIONS

What are the Best Questions to Ask an Entertainment Insurance Broker or Agent?

Finding the right entertainment insurance broker or agent isn’t complicated when you know the right questions to ask.

Start with these:

  1. How many years of entertainment insurance experience do you have? (If they say zero, run!)
  2. Which insurance carriers do you place business with? Are they designed for the entertainment industry?
  3. What's your process for placing business?
  4. What is your turnaround time?
  5. How do you service your clients?
HOW TO GET PRODUCTION INSURANCE

How Do I Get Film Production Insurance?

You can usually apply online pretty easily, but working with an agent or broker is always a better bet. They can help you navigate the process and choose the best policy for your needs. Most short-term production insurance policies are not refundable, so it’s best to finalize your shoot before activating your policy.

Remember: Never start your production without an insurance policy in place. Confirm your policy dates, coverages, and production activities, and inform them immediately if anything changes from your original application. Starting production without an insurance policy would be like leaving for a road trip without car insurance.

EQUIPMENT INSURANCE

What About Equipment Coverage or Gear Insurance?

Equipment coverage or gear coverage is one of the most critical aspects of production insurance policies. You’ll want to make sure your expensive equipment is covered at all times – from moving it on-set, going to and from the set, and while in storage.

Your policy should cover camera equipment and accessories, grip and lighting gear, sound equipment, and all other related production gear. Most production rental houses will, at the very least, require you to cover the replacement value of the equipment you’re renting from them, and some may require a $250,000 to $500,000 minimum coverage.

Some Important Tips for Equipment Coverage:

  • Know your policy coverages and any exclusions before you get to set, to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Before signing your policy, ask your broker about optional equipment coverages. These cost extra but could save you money in the long term, depending on your risks.
  • Always keep an equipment list handy, and continue to update it as things change. This helps to inventory all equipment if you ever have a claim.

FILM INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLE

What is an Insurance Deductible?

A deductible is the amount of a claim that you pay before the insurance kicks in. In the event of a claim, the deductible is subtracted from your total claim payout amount. For example:

The total claim payout is $10,000

Deductible: $1,000

The insurance carrier would write you a check for $9,000.

Some insurance policies have lower deductibles, such as $250 or $500. Many insurance carriers will provide deductible options, which gives you the flexibility to adjust the deductible to an amount you are comfortable with. Often, choosing a higher deductible will give you a lower premium.

CERTIFICATE INSURANCE

Understanding Your Options for 24/7 Certificate Issuance

If you have an equipment insurance policy through an agency with online servicing capabilities, you can issue certificates of insurance through your customer portal at any time, as long as your policy is active. In just a few steps, you'll be able to create a digital certificate that you can then send to your vendor quickly and easily. It’s 2021, why shouldn’t creating a digital certificate be as easy as ordering Pad Thai?

GEAR RENTAL INSURANCE

What Should You Know About Gear Rental Insurance?

One of the biggest factors in almost all productions is the equipment needed to get the job done. You know better than anyone how expensive production equipment is.

Whether you are renting equipment from a rental house or hiring contractors who own their gear, you will need to make sure all of the gear on your set is covered against accidental damages and theft.

Your gear insurance policy will have a maximum coverage limit on it. This limit is the total amount of insurance that is available for ALL the equipment on the film set, and not the maximum limit available per rental house. Talk to your broker about the risks of under-insuring the gear that you rent. Be sure to know the replacement cost value, and ensure that it's covered within your policy.

Make it a point to double-check the insurance requirements of rental houses, as some require additional liability policies when you rent their equipment.

WORKERS COMPENSATION

What is Worker's Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance is necessary for just about any business in any industry, and production is no different. Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage for employees you hire as cast and/or crew (including 1099s) for production-related injuries or illness.

Workers’ compensation can be purchased as part of a production policy package, through an entertainment payroll company, or your state’s workers’ compensation fund.

Workers’ compensation will cover your employees’ medical costs of work-related injuries, and paid time off if their injuries prevent them from working.

LIABILITY PRODUCTION INSURANCE

What is Production General Liability Insurance?

Production General Liability Insurance is a great starting point when shopping for production insurance. Production General liability insurance provides coverage for bodily injury to third parties. Third parties are non-cast and non-crew members such as bystanders or spectators.

For example, let’s say your production company is filming at a museum and has taped electrical wiring onto the floor. A museum visitor walks by, trips over the wiring, and breaks an arm. This bystander can sue your production company for bodily injury. General Liability protects you from this.

General liability insurance is vital for every producer to have before a shoot starts. For many production policies, general liability insurance is the foundation. Any productions shooting on location, in a venue, or working with a city and permit office will likely need general liability coverage.

Athos’ Equipment Liability Insurance offers special liability insurance for rental houses that require general liability coverage in case of third-party bodily injury caused by the use of the rented equipment. See! We’ve thought of everything!

SPECIALTY POLICIES

What Should You Know About Add-On Specialty Policies?

Add-On Specialty Policies are extensions of the standard policy that you're purchasing or already have set in place. They typically cover items or needs that aren’t considered “standard.” For example, you may find that you want to add accident medical insurance to your general liability policy to increase coverage in the event that someone becomes severely injured on set.

Disability insurance is another helpful add-on policy that protects an employee’s income if a disability prevents them from working.

GOOD AND BAD INSURANCE POLICIES

What Separates Good Film Production Insurance Policies from Bad?

There are red flags to look out for when shopping for production insurance to avoid buying a bad policy. Like dating, a red flag can seem minor at first, but can hurt you later!

Look for an insurance broker or agent that:

  • Specializes in entertainment insurance
  • Provides quality customer service

Every policy will have different provisions and exclusions. Make sure to talk with your broker so you understand your policy’s limitations. If an exclusion on a policy won’t work for you, your insurance broker may be able to find another policy or insurance company that’s a better fit.

Your insurance policy limits should be enough to cover the replacement cost of the property that is covered and should meet any insurance requirements you may have from your vendors, location owners, and film permit offices.

Finally, your insurance carrier should be aware of everything involved in your project, from drones and stunts to hazardous activities like underwater filming. If they can't cover all these activities, you’ll have to find another carrier. Otherwise, you’d have to cancel the cool stunts, and what fun is that?

THE FINAL CUT

The Final Cut

Whether you're shopping for production insurance for the first time or the 100th time, taking the time to get the right insurance policy is the best way to ensure peace of mind when you get to the set. As we’ve said, peace of mind is the number one priority, just ahead of snacks.

That’s what we are here for! Here at Athos, peace of mind is our specialty. With 24/7 customer support, you can call, email, or chat with a live entertainment insurance expert who can answer any questions you might have.

ATHOS INSURANCE

What makes Athos Insurance Better than the Rest?

At Athos Insurance, We:

  • Are experts in entertainment insurance. It’s what we do!
  • Make it easy for you to get a tailor-made policy online instantly at the best prices possible
  • Offer all lines of production insurance
  • Our fast, friendly, and affordable
  • Are known for our excellent Customer Service - reach out to us during business hours via phone, email, or live chat!

Still have questions about covering your next big project?

We are here for you, always! Contact us with a question via phone at 626-716-9800 or email service@athosinsurance.com
That’s a wrap!

What to Know About Your Camera Equipment Insurance Before You Travel

By: Katherine Wong, President of Athos Insurance Services

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We've put together a brief equipment insurance guide on how to insure your camera equipment when you travel abroad.

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Well, you’re finally getting out there! You got a sweet gig in another country! You’re excited to see new places, meet cool strangers, and eat things you’ve never tried. It’s all happening, and it’s very exciting.  

However, when you're traveling outside the US with your videography equipment or photography equipment, there’s more to international travel than just renewing your passport and getting your vaccines. And if you’ve read any of  our blog posts before, you probably know where this is going. That’s right, insurance! 

Before you travel abroad, you need to know how to insure your photography gear with international insurance coverage. Let's explore what kind of coverage you’ll need, what’s covered, and what’s not.

Picture of a female tourist taking a picture with her camera. This is concerning an article on how to insure camera equipment when traveling abroad.

Photo by Haley Black from Pexels

 

What Happens When You Run Into Airline Troubles?

When planning how to insure your camera equipment for travel, you need to check a few things beforehand. Make sure you're not traveling anywhere your insurance policy won't cover. 

If you're traveling somewhere on  the US Sanctions List, you might not be covered there. That’s something you’ll want to bring up with your insurance company agent when shopping for a policy. This list may include some places you don’t expect, so make sure to take a good look.

When photographers and videographers fly internationally, there are a few other tips to keep in mind. It’s always better to carry-on your gear versus checking it in. Keeping your camera gear close by makes it harder for the airlines to lose it (which they seem to LOVE doing). 

If your equipment is somehow mistaken for a security hazard, it could get confiscated by security. For example, if you have a boom mic that resembles a grenade launcher, maybe leave that one at home. 

If this happens, it’s unfortunately not covered by photography insurance or gear insurance. This is yet another thing to chat about with your insurance agent about. Call your insurance agent before you travel abroad.

How to Best Insure Your Camera Equipment for Travel

When you travel outside the US with your camera equipment, you should also know if there are any insurance exclusions for theft or accidental damages involving transit, like if it’s lost by an airline. Some policies sneak those in, so definitely talk to us about it when you call.

Picture of a lady working with her camera. This is concerning an article on how to insure camera equipment when traveling abroad.

Photo by Rachel Claire from Pexels

 

What To Do In a Worst Case Scenario

And if your gear DOES get stolen while abroad, you’ll have to file a police report in that city immediately. We know the last thing you want to do in Paris is talk to Officer Escargot, but once you get back to the US and report a theft in a foreign country, it’s going to be really difficult to submit an insurance claim. You’ll need that evidence of the police report from the city where it was stolen.  

Show ‘em How You Navigate Camera Equipment Insurance

So, when you finally get that dream gig to travel outside the US, or even if you’re just bringing your camera equipment to shoot some fun scenes on vacation, make sure you’re covered before you step on that plane. 

The last thing you want is to get your valuable camera gear stolen in a foreign land and not have camera insurance. Even travelers’ diarrhea goes away faster than the regret of being unprepared! Give us a call and our friendly agents can help guide you to the right plan for your trip. Let us help you do what you came to do!

What You Need to Know About Hazard Insurance for an SBA Loan

By: Jace Hadfield, Processing Manager of Athos Insurance Services

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Here's how an Equipment Floater insurance policy meets SBA loan insurance requirements and beyond.
 

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This year was tough for all of us! Thankfully, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! More and more people are getting vaccinated, and while some people complain of the side effects, the main side effect is that life is starting to return to normal. 

For business owners, this is very promising. But with many operating in the red after a year of volatility and changing regulations, many businesses are trying to figure out the best way to recover and/or expand their operations. 

Their survival could depend on their ability to get a business loan. Luckily, there is help. It’s an SBA Loan, Man! A superhero with a big “L” on his shirt. No, that would be the lamest superhero of all time. 

Actually, a federal agency called the Small Business Administration, or SBA, supports small businesses, and matches them to the right lenders. But in order to get a loan, the SBA requires a business to have business insurance. So, let’s dive in and talk about what that means. 

 

To get disaster relief for small businesses. The SBA offers a disaster relief assistance loan. This is helpful for getting through the recent pandemic. However you do need to get hazard insurance to get an SBA loan. This sign is an open sign that symbolizes re-opening of small business in the US.

Photo by  Tim Mossholder on  Unsplash

While insurance requirements vary by industry, a common requirement is to have insurance coverages on the physical property and contents of the business. Loan applicants generally need some level of property insurance, depending on what type of property their business has. 

Most are required to get as the SBA puts it, “hazard insurance on any real or personal property collateral securing a loan”. Basically, any collateral that you offer up to secure the loan must be insured against hazards. 

Lenders just want to make sure that if you default on the loan and the property is lost in a fire or some other hazard, the lender wouldn’t simply lose their investment. So, if you’re a coffee shop, those fancy, steaming espresso machines have to be insured, along with tables and chairs, and any other property. 

What does getting hazard insurance for an SBA loan mean for your business? 

Well, for most Athos clients, the best way to cover their business property is through an Equipment Floater policy, also known as an “Inland Marine Equipment Floater Insurance''. 

You don’t even have to be a marine to get one! It’s just a fun name. This policy can cover many different types of equipment you own, including production, musical, sound, sports, and more, and it satisfies the SBA’s property or hazard insurance requirements

In fact, an Equipment Floater insurance policy is far superior to a property policy, since it covers contents and property anywhere, including your office, outside the office or in the field, and basically anywhere in the whole world, except countries with US sanctions (so be extra careful with your equipment in Cuba!) 

Small businesses need hazard insurance to get an SBA loan. This image is of a smiling woman working at a coffee shop.

Photo by  Patrick Tomasso on  Unsplash

 

Also, equipment insurance is an all-peril policy! 

So, naturally, it includes many possible perils. Equipment floater insurance will cover: fire, water, lightning, accidental damages, earthquake, wind, flood insurance, transit coverage, equipment getting ravaged by wild lions, who knows what can happen! 

So getting an equipment insurance policy as your hazard insurance is even more broad than what’s even required to get an SBA loan. 

So, if you’re shopping around for a loan to help reopen your business, make sure you work with a reputable insurance company to get the coverage you need to secure your SBA loan! 

Or maybe you already applied for a loan, only to find out you need coverage?  

Reach out to Athos today, and one of our agents will guide you through the process! We got you covered!

Top 5 Insurance Tips When Traveling with Your Gear

By: Aylene Villarin

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Traveling is part of your job, we’ve put together an easy list of things you should consider when travelling with your gear internationally to protect your camera.

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Imagine the following scenario: A Director of Photography is at the airport waiting for his flight to South Korea. He’s hoping to somehow cross the demilitarized zone into North Korea for a documentary film he’s working on. As his carry-on luggage is being scanned at LAX, a TSA agent asks him to open up his Pelican case for inspection. The TSA agent finds his camera, camera gear – camera bag, lenses, lens hood, lithium batteries, and a small tripod. 

The TSA agent quickly inspects each item and confiscates the batteries and tripod. The DP is furious. He can’t do anything but listen to the TSA agent explain why airline passengers are prohibited from travelling with certain types of equipment. 

Eventually, the DP arrives in South Korea safely. The next day, he and a group of local filmmakers manage to smuggle their way into North Korea. During the short 2-hour shoot, the DP drops his camera and lens and cracks the lens.

Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash

 

What, if anything, is the DP able to claim under his insurance policy?

This is a tough question to answer. It would depend on the types of policies he has and the exclusions that are listed in those policies. In general, most insurance policies have an exclusion for Government Seizure or Destruction. 

A TSA agent is legally able to confiscate your camera equipment and if your insurance policy excludes Government Seizure or Destruction of property, your insurance policy would not be triggered. This means that in the above scenario, the DP would not be able to file a claim to replace his confiscated gear.  

In addition, The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, prohibits American citizens from doing business with governments, companies, and even individuals in certain foreign nations. Since North Korea is included in the list of U.S.-sanctioned countries, the DP’s lens that was damaged in North Korea may also not be covered under his insurance policy even if his insurance policy has worldwide coverage.

To avoid the same pitfalls that the DP above suffered, here are our Top 5 Tips to keep your gear safe when travelling internationally:

  • Check the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website for the  list of sanctioned countries - If the country you’re travelling to is listed, chances are, your equipment is not insurable while you’re there. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, such as getting OFAC clearance from the government for government-approved travel. If that is the case, be sure to contact your insurance broker/agent prior to your trip to notify them that you’ve received clearance to travel to a U.S.-sanctioned country.
  • Contact the airline(s) – Since every airline may have their own rules and regulations, it’s important to reach out to them to clarify which types of gear are allowed on the plane and which are prohibited.  At the end of the day, the more informed you are, the better your chances are that your gear won’t be confiscated.

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

  • Do extra research before travelling with your gear – There are a ton of videos and articles online that can help you decide which types of equipment are likely to be seized by TSA, so make sure you know what those items are. Just remember that it can still be up to the discretion of that individual TSA agent to determine whether or not your gear poses a threat, so be smart! If that extra-long tripod looks like it could be used as a weapon, it may be a good idea to leave it behind. 
  • Be organized – When packing your equipment, be meticulous about your gear organization. Break down your gear to make it easier for TSA agents to inspect it. Not only will this reduce the likelihood that it will get damaged during inspection, but it may also legitimize the purpose for your travel and help convince the TSA agent that your equipment is not dangerous. In addition, make sure to carry on the expensive stuff. If it’s hard to replace or the replacement costs are high, keep it in close proximity to you at all times. 
  • Insure your equipment properly – Don’t rely on your homeowners’ policy to extend coverage for your gear when you’re using it in the field or travelling with it. Chances are, your equipment is no longer covered the moment you take it outside your home. 

Contact an insurance broker who specializes in production equipment insurance. The type of policy you should inquire about is called an Inland Marine Equipment Floater policy. Review the policy with your broker and ask as many questions as you can. The more you understand the policy and any exclusions that may apply, the better prepared you will be when you travel with your gear. 

 

Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash

If you have any questions about your gear insurance while travelling, please feel free to give the friendly entertainment insurance experts at Athos Insurance a call at 626-716-9800 or contact us via our online customer service team. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

 

Author, Aylene Villarin

Aylene joined Athos shortly after Katherine Wong founded the company in 2012, and has been an integral part of Athos’s growth and development ever since. Aylene’s diverse and robust experience spans across a multitude of services including underwriting, marketing, client management & retention, and business operations. She now serves as Athos’ claims analyst and manages the Underwriting Team, focusing on entertainment-wide insurance solutions for complex production risks.

Top 5 Insurance Tips For Renting Out Your Camera Gear

By: Katherine Wong, President of Athos Insurance Services

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Safely earn a little extra income in between projects.

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So, you’ve invested in some good film and camera equipment, and managed to build up a solid collection of cameras, lenses, and gear. Now you want to rent it out between your own projects and pick up a little extra cash. Why not, right? 

Great idea! But before you start, there are some important things to know about renting out your gear. These five tips can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle. 

 

1. You’ll need a rental agreement 

I know, I know, it sounds all official, and you’re just renting it out to your roommate’s cousin’s friend Bobby. I’m sure it’s fine, right? NOPE! 

You’re going to want to have a rental agreement written up for every rental, even if it’s between friends or family, and even if you’re just lending it to someone and no money is being exchanged (very nice of you to do that, by the way). 

This way, if there is some kind of dispute, you have legal ground to stand on. It also legitimizes the rental in the eyes of your insurance company, so there are no issues with insurance claim payouts if something goes wrong. 

There are two key things to remember here: 

  1. The rental agreement needs to be created before any gear is picked up.

  2. The name on the rental contract has to match the policyholder name on the renter’s insurance policy. 

Wait! Your renter needs insurance! Let’s talk about that. 

 

2. Your renter needs a Certificate of Insurance to show they’re insured

Whoever is renting your camera or photography equipment will need to have equipment rental insurance. 

More specifically, they’ll need to have an Inland Marine Equipment Floater Insurance, an Equipment Floater, a DICE Production Insurance Package, or Miscellaneous Equipment Floater. We’ll discuss these different types of insurance packages in another post, but for now, just know that your renter needs to have one of them or it’s a “no” from you. 

You’ll need a certificate of insurance from them that names you as a loss payee. The limit should be at least the value of your rented equipment. And if the renter is renting from anyone else, the limit needs to cover the total of all rented equipment being rented from everyone. 

A quick note about expiration: an insurance policy will always expire at 12:01 am. This means that the expiration date should always be listed as the day after the gear is returned. 

I know, it seems like we are getting very technical here, and that’s because we are! We are an insurance company and it’s our job to look out for all the little details (and think about all the little things that could go wrong) so you don’t have to. 

 

Pictured is a video camera filming a stage. This image is used to educate readers on how they can safely insure their rented gear through gear rental insurance.

 

3. You need gear insurance too!

Well guess who else needs camera equipment insurance? You! 

That’s right. You have to protect your gear, even if the renter has insurance, for a few reasons. 

If your renter is fraudulent, their insurance will not pay for your equipment, because the renter is duping you into giving them the equipment. This is considered fraud or criminal activity, which is never covered by an insurance policy when committed by the policyholder. 

Make sure to add “Voluntary Parting on False Pretense” coverage to your insurance policy, to protect against fraudulent renters. We’ll cover sketchy renters more below. 

This picture is used in an article about camera gear rental insurance. A photographer is pictured filming on-top of a mountain.

 

4. You’ll need to do an official gear inspection

It’s important to inspect and test your gear before and after the rental, so you’ll be able to tell if anything has been damaged or broken. 

The last thing you want is a disagreement regarding damages. We recommend inspecting, testing, and documenting your inspection on video (you don’t need to make a Ken Burns documentary, just pull out your iPhone) with the renter before they leave with your gear. That way, you’re both on the same page about any scratches or pre-existing damages, which can prevent conflict later. Upon return, you’ll want to do the same thing. 

It’s always a good idea to do a deeper inspection within a few days of the equipment being returned, and to let the renter know you’ll be doing it. Don’t wait weeks to do this. The longer you wait, the easier it is for the renter to claim they had nothing to do with it. 

When the renter returns the equipment, ask if there were any problems or issues to allow them to explain anything unusual. And of course, document all feedback in writing.

5. You’ll have to be a little discerning about who you rent your camera gear to

I told you we’d return to the topic of “sketchy renters” and here we are. It’s so important to vet and research anyone you’re considering renting to. Fraud is on the rise lately, and being scammed is no one’s idea of a good time (except maybe the scammer). 

We recommend getting references, checking ID, asking for their social media profiles and scanning them to make sure they look real. Don’t worry, we won’t make you take a trip to their hometown and interview their elementary school teachers, but at least the same due diligence you’d do if you were hiring someone for a job, or vetting potential tinder matches for your sister. 

You need to be able to trust the person, at least to a certain degree. Always ask how they found you, and if they were referred by someone you know, ask that person about them too! 

Find out as much as you can before entrusting them with your valuable camera equipment. And if something seems fishy or doesn’t add up, ditch them. There will be other opportunities, and it’s not worth the trouble or risk. 

You worked hard to pay for all your gear, and renting it out can be a great way to make a few extra bucks. But just following these simple steps before jumping into a rental agreement with someone can help safeguard those valuable assets. 

Hopefully everything goes smoothly, but if anything goes wrong, you’ll be happy you were prepared! 

If you have any questions about gear rental insurance or need a gear rental policy for your camera equipment, our entertainment insurance agents at Athos Insurance is standing buy to make magic happen for you. 

Rent your gear with no worries with Athos Insurance!

What Are Continuing Rental Fees?

By: Christina Lam, Assistant Vice President at Athos Insurance

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Here's how to protect yourself from additional fees for lost or damaged rented equipment.

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You’ve decided to rent equipment to shoot and produce your new project. You locate a reputable rental house and secure everything you need. Everything is going well and you are getting great use out of the equipment. The return date is just around the corner and you are ready to return everything, damage-free. Then, an unexpected incident occurs.

After packing up the equipment at the end of the shoot, you leave it on the sidewalk for just a moment while opening your car. As you turn around, you see someone running off with the gear!

You know that these types of unfortunate events can happen to people renting gear. That’s why you get insurance, right? But what you may not know is that if they happen while the equipment is in your possession, a simple insurance policy may not cover everything. You could even be on the hook for additional charges.

Yes, you read that right! You may get charged additional costs from the rental house in the event of an accident or incident that leaves the gear unusable. 

While most insurance claims cover the cost of replacing or repairing the rented equipment, most people forget to consider the daily monetary loss that the rental house suffers while the gear is out of commission. This monetary loss is the additional cost that the rental house charges you due to the “loss of use” that they now have to cover.

Essentially, the rental house loses money every day that this gear is out of commission because they can’t rent that same equipment to someone else. 

 

Loss of Use Provision 

As a result, more and more rental houses are including a Loss of Use provision in their rental contracts. The Loss of Use provision states that the renter is responsible for continuing rental fees every day that the rental house is unable to rent the same equipment to another party. This makes the current renter responsible for rental houses' loss of income  for every single day that the rental house is unable to rent the same equipment to another person.

Those loss of use charges can be devastating for renters and add up quickly. This provision is what makes Athos’ optional Continuing Rental Fees Insurance essential. With this extra coverage, you are reimbursed for any continuing rental fees that are incurred after an initial 3 day waiting period. 

 

Get Peace of Mind

Loss of use fees are a burden on the renter while protecting rental houses from additional monetary loss. The best way to protect yourself from this burden and ensure peace of mind is to purchase optional Continuing Rental Fees Insurance through Athos. 

When you’re working, you need to be focused on your craft, your creative process, and making an incredible production. You do not want to be worried about potential mishaps, like damage to your rented equipment. Get started right here.

Top 10 On-Set Movie Catastrophes that Really Happened!

By: The Athos Insurance Team

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Read on for a list of Hollywood movie accidents and a reminder of why film production insurance is so important.

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Making movies is fun. Every day is different, there’s always tasty food around, and everyone becomes best friends! Plus, at the end you have a movie! But a lot of work goes into it as well. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears, sometimes quite literally! Here are 10 on-set catastrophes that went beyond method acting and really happened.

Photo by  Jakob Owens on  Unsplash

 

1. The Boat Trip Hollywood Disaster

On the set of the 1996 film Titanic, around 50 cast and crew members had to go to the hospital after eating soup that had been laced with PCP, a powerful psychoactive drug that often leads to hallucinations. They suspected food-poisoning, but eventually realized they had been drugged. They never found out who spiked the soup, or why, but it’s a night no one will ever forget. Luckily, no one experienced any serious side effects, and shooting was able to resume the next day. I guess all of Hollywood is make-believe anyway!  

2. The Fury Film Accident

On the set of this WWII movie, a stuntman (whose identity was never revealed) was stabbed by another stuntman while practicing a scene with a bayonet. He was rushed to the hospital and was fine. Those present say he was in good spirits the whole time, even making jokes and talking!

3. The Passion of the Jim

Well, this one’s a doozy. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus, went through an ordeal filming this movie. While filming in the Philippines, he was struck by lightning not once, but TWICE! He also dislocated his shoulder when the 150lb cross dropped on it, and was accidentally whipped twice, which left a bad scar. Plus, he got hypothermia and pneumonia from the winter scenes of him hanging on the cross. It’s a movie, guys, you’re not really supposed to torture him! Talk about method acting!

4. Hot Po-Tatum!

Channing Tatum really took one for the team on this one. While shooting The Eagle of the Ninth in the freezing cold Scottish Highlands, the actor and heartthrob was severely burned by boiling water. In order to stay warm, a crew member would pour warm water down his wetsuit between takes. But this time, he’d forgotten to dilute the boiling water, and poured scalding hot water down Channing Tatum’s wetsuit, severely burning his skin, (even burning the tip of his penis) and sending the poor actor to the hospital. He luckily made a full recovery. That’s terrible for Channing, but I’m sure the crew member will never live it down! Imagine having “burned Channing Tatum” on your resume!

5. Expendable Jason

While filming The Expendables 3, Jason Statham drove a truck into the Black Sea after the brakes on the truck went out. Luckily, Statham was actually a competitive diver before he started acting, and was able to escape the truck before it plunged 60 ft under the sea. Turns out he’s a badass on screen and off!  

6. Expendable Stallone 

Looks like the Expendables franchise had problems from the start! While filming the first movie, Sylvester Stallone broke his neck while shooting a fight scene with Stone Cold Steve Austin. He had to have a metal plate put in. We’re glad you’re ok Sly, but maybe when you’re 63, it’s time to let a stuntman step in! 

7. Like Clockwork

While filming the iconic scene in Clockwork Orange where the character Alex’s eyes are propped open, actor Malcolm McDowell ended up suffering temporary blindness and a scratched cornea from having his eyes open for so long. The things people do for art!

8. Worse than a Hangover

While filming The Hangover sequel in Thailand, Ed Helms’ stunt double suffered a terrible brain injury and was put in a coma after a car crash stunt went wrong. According to his lawsuit against Warner Bros, the stunt coordinator, at the last minute, told the other stunt driver to increase his speed beyond what was safe, causing the damage. Even when making a movie like The Hangover, some very unfunny things can happen! 

9. Water Laird

During the filming of Waterworld, Kevin Costner’s stunt double was Laird Hamilton, one of the best surfers in the world. Hamilton would jet ski to set, and at one point became lost at sea when his jet ski ran out of fuel! He drifted for hours in open water before being rescued by the Coast Guard. Luckily in Hamilton’s main sport, surfing, no gas is required! 

Photo by  Donald Tong from Pexels

 

10. Lord of the Injuries

While shooting Lord of the Rings in New Zealand, many actors suffered injuries. But Viggo Mortensen suffered the most. He shattered a toe from kicking a helmet (which is the take they ended up using in the film), got a black eye surfing with a few costars, and chipped a tooth during filming of The Two Towers. Luckily, his injuries were mild compared to the character he plays! 

It’s certainly interesting to read all about the crazy things that can happen on set, but it’s also important to be prepared for anything when shooting your own film. Hopefully, these stories are a good reminder to double and triple check that you’re covered for anything that might happen on the film set. At Athos Insurance, we make sure you aren’t paying for coverage you don’t need and make it easy to find the right insurance for whatever project you’re shooting, at the best possible price. 

Looking to insure your next shoot? Contact us today to make sure an incident on your set doesn’t become a catastrophe! 

Do You Need Film Insurance to Shoot a Documentary?

By: Lauren Castillo, Assistant Vice President at Athos Insurance

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Here's what you need to know about documentary insurance.

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If you’re entering the exciting world of documentary filmmaking, you might be wondering how to protect yourself and your crew across various locations. Questions like:

“Do you need production insurance for your documentary?” 

or

“What types of insurance coverage do you need?”

These are all common questions to ask before starting your documentary shoot. We are here to help you with these questions.

While your production may not include hazardous activities like fight scenes or pyro effects, accidents can still happen! You’ll need to protect your valuable equipment and talented team. Here’s why you need film insurance when shooting a documentary — and how to get the coverage you need for your production.

General Liability Insurance for Film Production

General Liability Insurance provides coverage for bodily injury to third parties, i.e. anyone who is NOT part of your cast or crew who may be impacted by your production. When shooting a documentary, you’ll often be in public places with bystanders or spectators, who can be injured by your activities. Your production company could then be sued for these injuries.

For example, let’s say you are filming your documentary in a museum, and your team has taped electrical wiring onto the floor. A museum visitor walks by, trips over the wiring, and breaks his or her arm. They would likely sue for bodily injury, and the museum would not want to be held liable for the accident, so the costs of medical treatment would fall on you. This could be devastating to your production and your business.

When you book a shooting location or work with a film permit office, you will almost always be required to carry general liability insurance. This ensures that damages can be paid out for third party accidents or injuries. 

General liability insurance is not as expensive as you might think, and it can be an absolute lifesaver. Remember, you cannot control the actions of third parties, so even if you take all preventative measures, accidents may still happen. Don’t get caught having to pay thousands of dollars for someone’s medical bills.

A picture of film crew shooting a documentary. When hiring a film crew, you need production insurance to protect your crew from injury and your equipment from damage and loss.

Third-Party Property Damage Coverage 

In addition to general liability insurance for potential bystander injuries, you’ll want to make sure you’re not on the hook for other people’s property damage. Furniture, flooring, walls, fixtures, or personal possessions that get broken or stolen, should be covered by insurance. Otherwise, you’ll be responsible for replacing and repairing the item.

For example, let’s say you’re loading equipment, and a crew member hits the wall, leaving a hole; or perhaps you’re hanging lights and one falls into a glass-top table.  These are examples of damaging other people’s property while filming. The venue where you’re filming can easily hold you liable for damages.

Many venues will require third-party property damage coverage when you’re shooting there. Expect to provide proof of coverage to cover this location. Good insurance will cover the costs of repairing damage to floors, walls, or ceilings, as well as repairing and/or replacing property at the locations you shoot.

 

If you are renting your film equipment to shoot your documentary, you will need gear rental insurance. Athos Insurance is the most trusted insurance broker to cover your rented gear.

Production Equipment Insurance

Whether you have your own equipment or are renting equipment from a rental house, you’ll want to cover the gear for accidental damages and theft. Equipment losses happen on projects big and small, hazardous and straightforward. Accidents, from dropping a camera to spilling a drink on your computer, to breaking a light, can slow or derail your production. Protect your assets with equipment insurance.

Equipment insurance should also cover theft. Your documentary production may take you to public places with a lot of foot traffic, or you may shoot at locations with high-crime rates. It takes only seconds for a thief to snatch your camera, laptop, or boom mic. We’ve heard horror stories of productions that completely shut down when their equipment was stolen and it wasn’t insured. 

If you are working with a rental house, you can be absolutely certain they will require Equipment Insurance. They want to make sure the gear is covered while in your possession. You can sometimes purchase coverage through the rental house, but we recommend obtaining your own to cover all possible scenarios.

Even if you lock up your equipment and take good care of it, mistakes happen. Equipment Insurance will cover damage or loss due to accidents, natural disasters, or theft.

Continuing Rental Fees or Loss of Use

If you are renting film equipment from a rental house or an equipment owner, and you have an insurance claim, Continuing Rental Fees or Loss of Use coverage will reimburse the rental house or equipment owner for their loss of income (rental fees) during the claims process. We recommend checking your rental contracts to see if you’re responsible for this loss of income. If so, you'll want to make sure to include this coverage when shopping for insurance.

General liability insurance covers worker's compensation insurance (also known as workers comp). Anything can happen when shooting a documentary so you want to make sure your crew is protected from bodily injury and lost wages.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

General Liability Insurance only covers bodily injury to those who are not associated with your production. To protect your cast and crew members, you’ll need workers’ compensation insurance. In many states, you’re legally required to obtain this coverage, even for independent contractors or 1099s. This ensures that cast or crew who get injured on your production get medical or rehabilitation costs covered, as well as wages they lost due to the injury. 

Even if you’re not using stunt performers or filming people doing dangerous activities, workers’ compensation (workers comp) is an absolute must. It covers everything from an actor  tripping over a cord to a crew member getting burned from a light. Note that even the safest sets can have accidents. Workers’ Compensation helps prevent your production company from having to pay thousands of dollars for hospital bills or missed wages. 

Your production team likely includes independent contractors and 1099 “gig workers,” all of whom should be covered under Workers Compensation, unless they have their own Workers Compensation coverage. Be sure that you cover any day laborers as well, even if they only work for you for one day in one location. 

Errors & Ommision insurance is key when shooting a documentary. This will protect you from legal issues and lawsuits that could result from your documentary.

Errors & Omissions Insurance (Also known as E&O Insurance)

If your film gets picked up by a studio, network or distributor, you will definitely need errors and omissions insurance. This type of coverage protects you from claims based on the content of the film. Without E&O, you may be more vulnerable to suits alleging libel, slander, defamation of character, invasion of privacy, illegal use of someone’s image, infringement of copyright, and plagiarism. 

For example, if you included footage of an informant making negative comments about a public figure, that public figure could allege that your film is defaming his or her character — even if you believed the informant to be credible. This is a higher risk for documentaries as compared to movies with fictional people. Without E&O coverage, you may have to pay attorney’s fees to defend yourself in court.

You may also be sued if you accidentally include footage of someone who did not consent to their image being used. We’ve even heard of documentary filmmakers being sued because they didn’t obtain permission for a pop song that was playing on a PA in a scene’s background.

E&O Insurance is usually a requirement when you sign a distribution agreement. You’ll start by demonstrating that you covered your bases, ie. you got script clearance, obtained consent forms and image releases, etc. Once you obtain your coverage, the policy will cover your defense costs if you are sued and the judgment if you are found liable.

The cost of E&O depends on the reach of the film and how controversial it might be. The more sensitive topics you include, the more your film may be targeted. And because you’re making a film, you may be presenting real people and situations that some people might try to construe as misrepresentation or invasion of privacy.

In short, you need E&O insurance for virtually all film projects that will be seen by the public. 

Wrapping Up

Getting insurance protects your film production and is well worth the cost. It protects you against potential lawsuits, reduces your liability, and helps keep your production afloat even if things go wrong. Costs of insurance vary depending on your coverage level and the production itself, but you’ll find it extremely helpful if someone is injured or tries to sue you.

Whenever someone cancels their production due to theft or had to pay thousands for medical bills or legal fees, they always wish they’d gotten insurance. We hear about it all the time! Don’t skip this crucial step — it’s vital towards covering your production! 

If you have questions or need assistance in finding the best film production insurance policy for your documentary shoot? You can trust Athos Insurance to be your guide.

We are a trusted entertainment insurance broker, who can build you a custom production insurance policy for your next documentary shoot. From feature films to independent films, the entertainment industry trusts us with their insurance requirements. 
You can easily get a production insurance quote, or contact our friendly customer service team if you have questions about insuring your next shoot. Call us at 626-716-9800 for immediate assistance or click to leave a message.

Why is It Called Inland Marine Insurance?

By: Jace Hadfield, Processing Manager at Athos Insurance Services

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What does Inland Marine insurance protect?

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What is Inland Marine Insurance? When clients see the term “Inland Marine Insurance” they are often wondering how this is related to their production or film gear. It sounds like it should be insurance for something water or ocean-related, but don’t let the insurance terminology confuse you. In this article, we are going to breakdown what this policy covers and how it got its name. 

What Type of Equipment Does Inland Marine Insurance Protect?

Today, Inland Marine insurance has evolved and provides coverage for a broad range of miscellaneous types of property in transit and on-site. In other words, an Inland Marine policy covers portable or moveable equipment. The coverage is not location-specific so equipment insured by an Inland Marine policy is covered in storage, in transit, on set, etc.  

Property covered includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Camera and Photography Equipment

  • Production Equipment

  • Musical Instruments

  • Sports and Recreational Equipment

  • Industrial Equipment

  • Property in Transit

  • Property in the Custody of a Bailee

  • Contractors Equipment

  • Leased Property

  • Scheduled Property

  • Trip Transit

  • Non-Motorized Trailers

  • Mobile or Moveable Equipmen

These policies are typically meant to cover accidental damages and theft of equipment. Additionally, they may cover losses caused by water damage, fire, earthquakes, windstorms, hail, or flood.

An Inland Marine policy won’t cover intentional acts by you or your employees, wear and tear, or internal causes of loss such as mechanical breakdown. 

Picture of Red Camera. Red Cameras are often covered well through Athos Inland Marine Insurance

Photo by  Lê Minh from  Pexels

How Does Inland Marine Insurance Relate to Film Production? 

If you own production equipment or rent gear from a rental house or other individuals you’ll need an inland marine insurance policy. This policy covers the production equipment for accidental damages and theft on or off the film set.

Some people are under the assumption that your homeowners or renters insurance policy will cover all your business equipment. This is not correct.  If you are using your production equipment for business  purposes, they may not be covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. 

What about if you have a business personal property policy? On a business policy, business personal property coverage is often location-specific. This means if you are taking your gear off-site (i.e. away from your office location) it may no longer be covered by your business personal property policy.

Where Did the Term “Inland Marine” Come From? 

Historically, insurance companies offered Ocean Marine insurance to protect owners from loss of cargo in the course of international commercial voyages by sea. Subsequently, a marketplace for fire insurance for buildings on land arose, especially after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Back then,Fire insurance companies typically provided narrower coverage, where the policies specifically listed what the perils are covered, and excluded all losses from any other causes.

In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution gave rise to new types of property called “exposures on land”. Exposures on land were considered things like telegraphs, railroad equipment, and other types of property with which the fire insurance companies were unfamiliar with. 

People and businesses started shipping cargo beyond major ports and cities. They needed protection in case these goods were lost while being shipped by land as well.  This is where the term “Inland Marine insurance” came from. Inland Marine Insurance offered insurance protection of goods shipped beyond all the major bodies of water and port cities.

Don’t let the term “inland marine” fool you! We’re experts at providing coverage for production and specialized equipment - not boats!  

Have more questions about insuring your camera equipment? At Athos Insurance, we are happy to assist you with all of your questions concerning camera equipment insurance and can help you get the right kind of inland marine insurance for your camera equipment. Our office is open for your questions, contact our service team with any questions.

Does a Videographer Really Need Video Production Insurance?

By: The Athos Insurance Team

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Everything you need to know about professional and amateur videographer insurance.

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As a creative, the last thing you probably want to read about is insurance. The different types, the different levels, deductibles, you’re probably already tuning out reading this. But as boring as it is to think about, a quick guide to how video production insurance protects videographers can potentially save you a lot of money and stress later on. I promise I will make this as quick and painless as possible. Sure, you may not be a huge production company, but you still want the right type of videographer insurance coverage to protect your business.

 

Videographer holding and adjusting his camera. This article is about what videographer need to know about getting videographer production insurance.

Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

Types of Videographer Production Insurance

There are three main types of videographer production insurance that we’ll go over in this post: production equipment insurance, general liability insurance, and third-party property damage insurance. 

Equipment insurance covers, you guessed it, your production equipment. You’ve invested in all of this expensive gear, and now you’re finally getting the work that’ll help you pay it off. The last thing you want is to drop your expensive camera-baby and have to start from square one. You’ll want a policy that covers accidental damage and theft, and it should cover the replacement cost value, since equipment tends to depreciate as it gets older and used. Now, if you’re renting equipment for a shoot, you’ll still need to buy insurance on it for the time you’re renting it. Some rental houses will give you the option of buying insurance from them directly, but it’s often more cost-effective to buy your own. It’s always good to shop around for a policy within your range that covers your needs. Most rental houses will want to see the certificate of insurance that proves you have it, if you’re not buying insurance from them directly. Some videographers rent out their own equipment on peer-to-peer platforms. If you’re renting out your own equipment on peer-to-peer platforms, make sure your policy covers you if one of your renters breaks your stuff or runs off with it. 

In addition to your stuff, you may need general liability insurance. What this covers you for is, well, general liabilities. Since a favorite American pastime is suing each other, you’ll want to be ready in case you find yourself in a personal injury attorney’s crosshairs. What this means in practice is that if a bystander trips over a cord or impales themselves on a lighting stand on one of your shoots, you’re not going to have to go bankrupt/fake your own death to get out of it. In a business where you’re constantly working with new people, in new places, bodily injury can be more common than you might think. 

Another reason to have liability insurance is for property damage. If you’re on location and break a window, or drop a heavy light and dent the floor, that money’s not coming out of your pocket. Some general liability policies don’t include coverage for third-party property damage, though, in which case you’ll have to purchase it separately. Always make sure you understand what a policy covers before you choose one. 

What you need to know about videography insurance?

Photo by Vanilla Bear Films on Unsplash

What about Amateur and Freelance Videographers?

Don’t talk about yourself that way! But for real, if you’re not getting paid for a film shoot, you may think you don’t need any insurance, but you probably want at least basic coverage against theft and damage. Your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy might cover it, but many policies put a limit on expensive items, most policies don’t cover business equipment, and you might not be covered outside the home. Make sure the policy you get covers items stolen out of a car, since some don’t. 

Whether you’re a seasoned vet or just starting out, there’s an insurance policy out there that’s perfect for your needs and your equipment. Get a policy you can afford, so you can protect your videography business, focus on getting the shot, and grow your business. Even if it’s expensive, you can’t put a price on peace of mind with quality insurance coverage. 

Finding the Right Insurance Policy for Your Rental Equipment

By: Lauren Castillo, Assistant Vice President at Athos Insurance

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When you’re renting equipment, insurance is crucial. You don’t want to be responsible for any damages or losses to equipment that you don’t even own. But navigating the different insurance policies and trying to figure out what insurance plan you need can get very confusing. 

Rental houses always require renters to purchase Inland Marine Insurance. This is the policy that will cover the rented gear for accidental damages and theft so it’s really important to have this coverage

Many rental houses also require General Liability Coverage in addition to Equipment Rental Insurance. General Liability covers you for bodily injuries to third-parties. 

For example, if you rent a light from a rental house and it falls and hits someone who is not part of the production crew, that person can sue everyone involved in the project for their injuries (including the rental house, since technically, they are deemed the “owner” of the equipment.) 

Remember, you’re just the renter. This is why many rental houses will require General Liability Coverage in addition to Equipment Insurance.

Picture of a video camera for rented camera equipment insurance article.

Here are a couple more important things to remember when you are shopping for equipment rental insurance:

  • Look out for common exclusions like theft from an unattended or unlocked vehicle, water damage, transit, worldwide coverage if you will be traveling outside the US. 

  • If you’re renting equipment from multiple rental houses or equipment owners, make sure to add the total replacement cost value of all the gear. This should be the minimum insurance limit you purchase. You’re taking a big risk if you don’t insure everything because if you have a total loss like a fire or a theft where everything is stolen you will be personally responsible for the difference. You may think this won’t happen to you, but we’ve seen this happen before. 

  • Business personal property does not cover rented production equipment. 

  • Always make sure you have a rental contract in place to legitimize the rental. Claims may get denied if you do not have proof of a rental contract. 

  • Always be sure the name on your rental contract matches the name on your insurance policy.  

  • If you’re renting any vehicles in addition to the equipment, it’s important to note that the rented vehicle is not considered equipment, so you may also need to buy a Non-owned Hired Auto Policy as well.

 

There are so many factors to keep in mind and so many scenarios that could make you liable for damages and theft if you don’t have the right insurance. Every rental house has their own insurance requirements, so we highly recommend that you ask all rental houses you rent from for their insurance requirements to ensure your rented equipment is covered properly.

Fortunately, we get that rental insurance may be confusing, which is why we are always here to help answer any questions you might have! You can call us directly at 626-716-9800 or contact our always friendly customer service team.

What’s the Difference Between Scheduled vs. Unscheduled Equipment Insurance Coverage?

By: Kat Wong, President at Athos Insurance

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Many of our customers ask what the difference is between scheduled and unscheduled equipment.  For the purposes of our online Athos Equipment Floater program (Inland Marine Equipment Insurance), we’ll break down the differences and things to look out for.

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Here’s an easy way to think of it...

Scheduled Equipment + Unscheduled Equipment = Total Owned Equipment

 

Let’s break down the factors:

Scheduled Equipment is for any single item with a replacement cost over $5,000 a piece, including sales tax.  So what if you buy a kit or several components that are always used together?  We always ask: can you purchase these items separately in the store?  Or are they always sold together?  If any single component can be purchased alone, that’s considered one single item.  For example, let’s say you purchased a set of 5 lenses together.  Each lens is worth $10,000 each (including sales tax) for a total of $50,000.  Each of these lenses can be purchased separately on it’s own.  That means you should schedule each lens separately under your Scheduled Equipment limit.  In the same example, if the 5 lenses are sold as a set for $50,000 and cannot be purchased separately, you would schedule this as 1 item under your Scheduled Equipment limit.  Athos requires the make, model, serial number (if possible) and replacement cost value of all scheduled items on file.

Unscheduled Equipment is for all single items with a replacement cost of $5,000 or less (including sales tax).  All these items (yes, even the small cords and batteries) are covered under the Unscheduled Equipment limit and do not need to be listed out.  You can think of it as a blanket limit for all your gear valued under $5,000.  You may wonder why you need to cover all these little items, even ones valued less than your policy deductible.   Well, just add them all up, and you’ll be surprised how much gear you own.  Remember that your deductible is per claim, not per item.  If all your gear was stolen one night, you’re only responsible for the one deductible for the entire claim amount. 

When applying or renewing for the Athos Equipment Floater program, we ask applicants to confirm their Total Owned Equipment amount.  Next, they’ll list all their Scheduled Equipment (items over $5,000 each).  Our system will then automatically calculate the Unscheduled amount by subtracting the Scheduled Equipment from the Total Owned equipment amount.

Unscheduled Equipment = Total Owned Equipment – Scheduled Equipment

Photo by  Samsung Memory on  Unsplash

So here’s a few important things to remember:

1. All OWNED gear over $5,000 apiece must be scheduled with Athos or else it’s not covered AT ALL  

Yikes!  So if you buy new gear with a replacement cost over $5,000 during the middle of your policy, make sure to add it to your policy (email Athos to update your policy).   Please don’t think that your Total Owned Equipment limit is a blanket amount for all gear, no matter what the value is.  Think of your policy as having two classifications (the total limit for gear over $5,000  and the total limit for ones under $5,000)

2. Make an inventory of ALL your gear and always UPDATE it

As a business owner, your gear and equipment are your company’s assets.  If something horrific happened to all your equipment at one time (i.e. theft or fire), you’ll want a document that already lays out all equipment and its values.  Trying to remember all your assets after it’s been stolen or burned up, will be extremely difficult and create issues during a claim with the insurance carrier.

3. When valuing your equipment, always use the replacement cost and include sales tax

The replacement cost is the cost to replace your gear with a brand new item or like-kind (if they don’t make it anymore).  The value is NOT based on the fair market value, which factors in depreciation or compares your value to a used version.  Always include the sales tax so you’re insuring for the complete replacement cost.  You do not want to be stuck paying the sales tax after if you’re maxing out limits on a claim

Why does the Athos equipment coverage program make us go through all this trouble to schedule gear? 

It may be annoying to break out your gear into two groups, but this was created to give more flexibility to customers.  Some other equipment insurance companies (not Athos) require ALL gear to be listed to validate coverage.  This is quite restrictive because, during a claim, only items on that list would be covered.  What if you recently bought a memory card and forgot to add it right away?  No coverage.  Eeek!

Under the Athos inland marine insurance program, only single items over $5,000  must be listed to have coverage (scheduled equipment).  This means for the unscheduled equipment (under $5,000 apiece), you’re not bound to a full scheduled list for coverage. This is helpful especially as people buy/sell/upgrade equipment often.  Think of your unscheduled equipment limit as a blanket limit for the smaller stuff.

The Athos equipment program can cover all types of equipment, from cameras, lighting gear, sound gear, props, sets/wardrobes, production-related gear, musical instruments, generators, party rental equipment, bounce houses, sporting equipment, and other equipment related to Entertainment and Sports industry.  Since the value of our clients’ gear ranges from low (such as a battery or cord) to high (such as an Alexa Mini or Red Camera), it’s important to make and save an inventory of ALL your equipment.  Then you’ll be ready to determine how to cover your gear properly as scheduled versus unscheduled gear.

How to Buy Equipment Insurance for the Gear You Own

By: Lauren Castillo, Assistant Vice President at Athos Insurance

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Here's what you should know when insuring your gear to protect your business.

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Finding the right equipment insurance used to be a difficult and tedious task, calling insurance companies, listening to bad music while being put on hold, and of course, trying to navigate through that confusing insurance language. Now you can visit our site any time of the day, get instant insurance quotes, and customize your equipment policy to your liking. Here are a few key items to consider before buying your Owned Equipment policy.

Things you should consider when looking for the right equipment insurance policy

1. Coverage: One of the first things to consider when shopping for equipment insurance, is understanding what equipment insurance policies typically cover. Typically, these policies are meant to cover your gear for accidental damages and theft. Equipment insurance policies typically won’t cover wear and tear or if your equipment breaks or malfunctions

2. Common Exclusion to Look Out For: Some equipment insurance policies will have an exclusion for theft of equipment from an unattended or unlocked vehicle. 

This means that if your equipment is stolen from a vehicle and that vehicle was either unlocked or unattended, the policy will not cover this loss. 

Be sure to always check if this exclusion exists so you can either take the necessary precautions to protect your gear, or you can look for a policy that includes coverage for theft of equipment from a vehicle.

3. Valuation: Different insurance policies will have different methods of determining the claim payment amount in the event of a loss. A good equipment insurance policy will include Replacement Cost valuation. This means your equipment will be replaced with equipment of like kind and quality. When a policy uses a replacement cost valuation, you are not penalized for depreciation. 

It’s always important to know the current replacement cost of your gear since it may be different than what you paid for it.

 

silhouette of person holding camera

Photo by  KAL VISUALS on  Unsplash

4. Extra Equipment Insurance Coverage Options for the Entertainment Industry: Depending on your business operations, you may need to look for extra coverage to protect your equipment properly. If you have any specialized business operations, you may want to consider talking to a representative when shopping for insurance to ensure you’re properly covered. Below are just a few examples:

  • Rental Houses Operations: Do you rent out your gear to other people to make some extra money (i.e. sub-renting, using peer-to-peer platforms like ShareGrid, etc.)? If yes, one of the biggest risks you face when renting out your gear is fraudulent renters. If you rent your gear to a renter who never returns your equipment, the renter’s insurance policy will not pay for their crime. If you have rental operations, you should look for an equipment insurance policy that can offer voluntary parting or conversion coverage to protect you against this risk.

  • Filming above or underwater: If you are an underwater camera operator or frequently use your equipment above water (i.e. on a boat), make sure that your equipment is covered when using it above (afloat) or underwater. This may be extra coverage that can be added to your policy.

5. Deductible: In the event of a claim, the deductible is the amount you, as the policy owner, are responsible for before a claim payout is made. When a claim is paid out, the insurance carrier will subtract the deductible from the total payout. Some equipment insurance policies will offer you different deductible options, which gives you more flexibility in choosing an amount that works for you.

6. Customer Service: While most of your research for an equipment insurance policy can be done online, it’s important to know that you can talk to an actual person at the insurance company if needed.

  • Are you able to get in touch with a representative via email only or can you give the company a call and talk to a team member? 

  • When you have questions, is the company able to respond promptly? 

Always value the importance of reliable customer service when it comes to insurance. At Athos, we work to provide the most reliable customer service possible. If you have any questions, feel free to visit our customer service center here.

 

 


Lauren Castillo

Lauren is the external assistant vice president at Athos Insurance. In her 3 years at the company she has developed a passion for client services and marketing. At Athos, Lauren has honed her skills for client retention, underwriting, and also helped launch the company’s social media and marketing efforts.

COVID-19 Film Production Guidelines in Los Angeles

By: The Athos Team

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A helpful guide and resources for what you need to know to shoot in LA County during the pandemic.

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As I write this, outdoor restaurants and bars in LA are about to close down again for at least 3 weeks as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. They were open, they closed, then they were open only for outdoor dining, now they’re closed again. We don’t know whether they’ll be open again in a few weeks or not? 

While regulations on restaurants, stores, and everything else have changed constantly over the course of the pandemic, filming rules have remained pretty consistent since June. So if you’re a filmmaker looking to jump back into the game, hopefully this article can point you in the right direction. 

Some filmmakers are hesitant to even bother location filming right now. With the added work and expenses of complying with health and safety guidelines, plus the risk of you or someone on your crew getting sick, many would rather wait this whole thing out. That’s understandable, but the new rules and guidelines aren’t as complicated as you think. Most are common-sense measures to slow the spread of the virus, and I guarantee after reading this article you’ll be more equipped to get a production off the ground.

Woman with backpack riding a motorcycle wearing a COVID-19 mask.

The Basics

On June 12, LA County Department of Public Health put out a health order. It has requirements about social distancing, masks, hours you can film, sanitation, and testing. These apply to all types of filming activity, union or not, and even include student films. In order to get film permits, filmmakers must comply with the order, and the requirements are pretty strict. In addition to these county requirements, the tv, and commercial film industry has developed its own guidelines, laid out in a SAG AFTRA publication by the AMPTP’s Industry Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force, comprised of health experts and reps from studios and unions. 

We’ll base this guide off of those guidelines as well as the county order (there is a lot of overlap) to use as a COVID-19 resource. If you decide to start production during Covid, you’ll want to read the full health order here, but we’ll go over enough to give you a good idea of what to expect.

Remote Work

First, they recommend that anyone who’s able to do their job from home should do so. Obviously very few productions can take place fully remotely, though some have gotten creative. Some of the production jobs that can take place remotely, including casting (with actors self-taping auditions or zooming in), pre-production meetings, post-production, etc. Basically everything except on-set filming. 

You'll Need a Compliance Officer on Set

So for those working on set or in person, a workplace COVID-19 Compliance Officer (C19CO or COC) must be designated to establish COVID safety protocols, train staff on these rules, and make sure they’re being followed. While there’s no formal certification requirement for the officer, it has to be someone “appropriate,” so you can’t get a “COVID Compliance Cutie” shirt for your golden retriever and think you’re set to go. 

However, maybe your responsible, out-of-work friend who’s a bit of a stickler for rules would appreciate the gig. There are also some unofficial training courses for aspiring COCs, and online databases of those who have completed the courses. 

Production crew member filming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nitty-Gritty (Additional) Rules

Production has to provide PPE and sanitizer, and everyone has to wear a face mask whenever possible (no one likes wearing masks all day, but at least you don’t have to smell the boom operator’s coffee breath). Actors don’t have to wear masks while shooting, but are encouraged to wear them between takes and setups, especially when around other people. 

  1. Anyone who has symptoms of Covid, has tested positive, or has likely been exposed has to isolate and not come to work. 

  2. Regular testing of on-set cast and crew is required. For shoots where regular testing isn’t feasible, they discourage close scenes that include talking, to prevent spread.

  3. There are strict protocols for what to do if one or more cast or crew members become infected.  

  4. Common areas must be disinfected frequently, workstations must be at least 6’ apart, and breaks must be staggered so people can stay 6’ apart in break rooms. -Employees can only eat in certain areas, to make sure they’re wearing masks all other times.

  5. Props, equipment, and tools all have to be cleaned between uses. 

  6. If you’re doing an audience scene, audience members should wear masks and be seated 6’ apart, preferably outdoors. This rule protects against covid and close-talkers.

  7. Some of the more upsetting rules relate to food and drink, such as the rule against buffets. (I know, I should have been more upfront about this one.) It’s sad, but if it helps us get back on set, we’ll take it. Also, no shared coffee pots, no sharing food, and everyone has to sanitize before eating. 

  8. When possible, shooting has to occur between 7am and 10pm. But again, this guideline is stated as “when possible.” If there’s a reason that it’s impossible to only shoot within those hours (such as needing to shoot during sunrise), that’s ok, it just needs to be justifiable if anyone should take you to task.

And while it’s important to be familiar with the basics, remember that there will be a compliance officer on all sets to make sure rules are being followed and not forgotten, so you don’t have to stay up late studying the county’s full 10-page list. 

When you break down the guidelines, it’s not as intimidating as it might seem. It’s mostly just common-sense practices to keep everyone safe. And while it may require slightly more time and money to film certain types of scenes, it shouldn’t restrict your creativity too much (maybe just cut that packed nightclub scene for this one). 

So for those who can’t wait until some theoretical post-pandemic future, we hope this guide has helped give you the confidence to jump back in.

Need production insurance for your next shoot? Athos has your back with interest free installment plans on all standalone ANNUAL equipment floater policies.

PLEASE NOTE: This article was written based on current guidelines as of 12/4/20. Be sure to check before starting production for any more recent changes. 

The Importance of Having Correct Equipment Insurance

By: Jace Hadfield, Processing Manager of Athos Insurance Services

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Many people may assume that their personal property is covered by their renters or homeowner’s insurance. But what if your personal equipment leaves your home? What if your gear is used for more than just a hobby? And what if it’s used to support your livelihood?

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Once these valuable items are considered essential to your business operations, they’re almost always excluded by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.  These policies typically only cover gear for personal use. Additionally, if you have a business policy with Business Personal Property, sometimes this only covers your gear in a specific location or has many inconvenient exclusions that are unsuitable for someone in the entertainment world. This is where Athos can assist with your personal property coverage.

Photo by  ???????? ?????? on  Unsplash

Also known as Inland Marine Equipment Floater insurance, an Athos Equipment policy covers many risks, including the use of your personal property for commercial purposes. 

Our policy (at Athos Insurance) is also widely known as an “equipment floater”, meaning your insurance coverage ‘floats’ to follow your gear wherever it may be, especially if you’re taking your equipment away from your home. This type of insurance can play a HUGE role in the event that you need to make an insurance claim. 

 

Highlights of included and optional coverages:

  • Accidental Damages - Unintentional damages to equipment such as water damage, drops, and scratches are covered, as well as, damage caused by falling objects.

  • Theft - Equipment stolen from you is covered; theft could be from set, storage, your home, an auto, etc. 

  • Damage caused by natural events such as lightning, fire and smoke, earthquakes, windstorms, hail and flood is covered. 

  • Damage due to Nationally Declared Acts of Terrorism is covered. 

  • (Optional) – Voluntary Parting and/or Conversion - known as Fraudulent Renters coverage. If you rent out your equipment and the renter just never returns your gear, the renter’s insurance policy wouldn’t cover their criminal act. Voluntary parting coverage is meant to cover this very type of risk. 

  • (Optional) – Equipment afloat or underwater -if you plan to take your gear on a boat or underwater (i.e. an underwater camera operator) you can add the optional Above or Underwater coverage. Snow would also be considered water. This coverage can be added annually or on a temporary basis on your annual policy by endorsement.

  • Worldwide Coverage - Your equipment is covered worldwide except for in countries with US sanctions. If traveling to Mexico the policy automatically includes coverage for equipment up to $25,000. Additional coverage for Mexico can be added for additional premium. 

  • Damage or theft that occurs during transit and/or shipping is covered.

  • Replacement Cost Coverage - This means your equipment will be replaced with equipment of like kind and quality - you are not penalized for depreciation.

Learn to Protect your gear and your business investments with better insurance at Athos!

Jace Hadfield, Processing Manager of Athos Insurance Services

Jace’s professional background is heavily focused on finance. However, his finance skills were diversified amongst many industries along his career including an education institution, a large tech company, and a software engineering firm. When he joined Athos, he easily found his groove with our program policy processes and now manages the processing department. Jace continues to improve inefficiencies and always make sure accounts don’t fall through the cracks (something essential at an insurance brokerage and agency). With such varied experience, Jace brings a fresh perspective and an enthusiastic attitude to Athos. 

Understanding the Insurance Risks of Renting Out Your Camera Gear and How to Protect It

By: Lauren Castillo, Assistant Vice President at Athos Insurance

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In a world where peer-to-peer production equipment rentals are becoming more common, we want to provide camera equipment owners with the most robust coverages available. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Voluntary Parting or False Pretense Coverage when Renting Out Your Camera Gear  

In a world where peer-to-peer production equipment rentals are becoming more common, we want to provide camera equipment owners with the most robust coverages available. 

Overall, an amazing online community (like ShareGrid) has formed, where you can easily find and rent any piece of equipment you may need for production or photo-shoot just by doing a quick online search.

Additionally, camera equipment owners are benefitting from making some extra money by renting out their gear when it’s not being utilized. While most of the community is made up of genuine creatives, renting your camera gear out to someone you don’t know comes with risks. The biggest one is voluntarily parting with or renting your gear to fraudulent renters.

 

What is Voluntary Parting vs. Theft?

A common misunderstanding is that people think voluntary parting is the same as theft, but they are actually defined differently. Theft is defined as equipment being stolen directly from the renter against their will. An example of this is when a thief smashes the window of your car and steals the camera equipment that you left in the back seat. 

By contrast, Voluntary Parting occurs when an owner willingly gives his or her equipment to someone (the renter), and the renter never returns with your gear. The biggest misconception is that the renter’s insurance policy will pay if the renter themselves steals the gear. 

However, voluntary parting is considered a crime the renter commits, and the renter’s insurance policy is never going to cover them for fraudulent activity. In other words, an insurance policy is not meant to cover the policyholder against criminal activity. 

So when you rent out your camera gear to people you don’t know, it’s important to be aware of this possible exposure and you’d want to check with your insurance company to make sure that your insurance covers fraudulent renters on your equipment rental insurance policy

Photo Of Men Holding Camera

 Photo by Lê Minh from Pexels

The Good News About Voluntary Parting or False Pretense Coverage

At Athos, we offer an optional additional coverage called Voluntary Parting or False Pretense coverage to individual equipment owners, which is a great add-on because this is typically a coverage that’s only available to rental house businesses. 

Voluntary Parting or False Pretense coverage offers protection against fraudulent renters, and it is a coverage we highly recommend to anyone renting out their gear, especially in peer-to-peer online platforms.  On our annual equipment policies, equipment owners have the option of adding up to $100,000 of voluntary parting or false pretense coverage.  

In addition to having the Voluntary Parting or False Pretense coverage on your policy, you always must have a rental contract in place between you and the renter. At the minimum a rental contract should include the following:

  • A statement that says the renter is fully responsible for all damages or losses whatsoever
  • Both the owner's and borrower's legal names and addresses 
  • A full description of the rental equipment 
  • The period of time the rental agreement is for 
  • The expected delivery/return date
  • The cost of the rental 
  • Any security deposits that are required
  • Fees for late returns 

Since a rental contract is a business document we recommend having your business attorney review your rental contract for legal accuracy. 

While a sound insurance policy will help save the day, throwing all your responsibilities out the window is not encouraged.  All clients who walk through your door should be vetted and reference checked.  The Athos policies also require that a valid rental contract is in place for valid coverage.

There are plenty more stories about the great experiences people are having when they can seamlessly rent out their gear and make some extra money on the side. The bad stories are the ones that always stand out and discourage equipment owners from participating in the peer-to-peer gear rental space. And while we’d love for every rental to go smoothly, we know that even with all the measures put into place to keep these fraudulent renters out of the community, they are still a very real threat. 

It’s so important to understand what your risks are when renting out your gear, and how to protect yourself. Athos has your back and we want to help! Rented equipment owners who are renting out their gear to strangers should always feel secure in their own insurance coverage, just in case, a renter’s policy doesn’t pay out or if the renter is fraudulent. To learn more about this special coverage, you can contact our customer service support team. 

How to Protect Your Camera Gear from Theft While in the Car

By: Lauren Castillo, Assistant Vice President at Athos Insurance

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Time and time again we hear from clients who left their gear in their car and come back to find that it’s all been stolen.

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Time and time again we hear from clients who left their gear in their car and come back to find that it’s all been stolen. This is one of the most common types of thefts, and it can happen very fast! Whether you’re running into a restaurant to get a bite to eat after a long day of filming, or if the gear is being stored in a vehicle while on location, you should always have your guard up and keep your gear safe. 

Unfortunately, criminals have been known to target this industry. Fortunately, Athos’s equipment insurance can help with this.

Here are our recommendations on how to protect your camera equipment from getting stolen out of a car:

  1. Unload your equipment and take it inside whenever possible

  2. If you have to unload in multiple trips, have someone you trust to stay with the gear while you unload your gear

  3. If you must leave equipment in a car, never leave equipment visibly in a car - Put it in the trunk

  4. Designate a watchman for any gear that will be left in a production vehicle for an extended time

  5. Park in a well-lit secure and guarded (24/7) location

 

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Since this type of theft is so common in the entertainment industry, some insurance policies have an exclusion for theft from an unattended or unlocked vehicle. When shopping for insurance always talk to your broker or camera equipment insurance company to see if your policy covers theft from an unattended/unlocked vehicle. Oftentimes filmmakers end up learning about this exclusion the hard way, after equipment has been stolen out of a vehicle, and find it’s not covered on their policy.

The exclusion of theft from an unattended or unlocked vehicle will not always be clearly listed on your certificate of insurance. Some insurance certificates will specifically state if the policy includes coverage for theft from an unattended vehicle, but often the only place where you will be able to find this exclusion mentioned is in the actual policy documents. Be sure to double-check with your insurance company to be safe!

If there IS an exclusion for theft from an unattended or unlocked vehicle exclusion, ask if it can be removed so that you can rest assured that you are covered. Knowing whether or not your policy covers equipment stolen from an unattended or unlocked vehicle will help you better understand your risks. 

Additionally, if you’re renting equipment from a rental house, most vendors will require that your policy covers theft from an unattended/unlocked vehicle. They want to make sure their gear is fully covered while in your possession. You can always check the insurance requirements provided by the rental house to see if they require this exclusion to be removed. If it isn’t clearly stated in their list of insurance requirements, make sure to check your rental contract as well.  

If you do experience this type of theft, you’ll want to make sure to do the following as soon as possible:

  1. File a police report

  2. Take pictures - Be sure to include signs of break-in like broken windows

  3. Take inventory of what was stolen

  4. If there were witnesses, try to get statements 

  5. Contact your insurance company 

Photo by Ryan Graybill on Unsplash

Having all of this information will be helpful when submitting your claim to the insurance carrier. The adjuster assigned to your claim will need this type of information and being prepared can help ease the claims process. 

Knowing your risks and how to protect yourself is the best way to prepare for this theft scenario. The more you understand what your insurance covers and any exclusions that may apply, the more you can protect your business, and the better prepared you will be when deciding how to handle your gear. The Athos Team is always here to help educate and answer any questions you may have so please feel free to reach out. 

 

 

Equipment Rentals…What insurance will I need?

By: Christina Lam, Assistant Vice President at Athos Insurance

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Well, it depends!

Rental houses always require their renters to have inland marine equipment insurance to cover the rented equipment itself for accident damage and theft. The equipment insurance allows renters to issue a certificate to the rental house naming them as a loss payee and with rental sites such as Sharegrid, just the equipment insurance will suffice.

However, many rental houses will also require general liability coverage in addition to the equipment insurance.  You can usually tell if a general liability policy will be needed because the rental house will ask you to name them as additional insured on your policy, and this can only be added on a general liability policy. General liability covers third party injuries associated with the equipment. For example, if you rent a light from a rental house and while you are using it, it falls and hits someone walking by (not part of your production), that person can sue everyone involved. This includes the owner of the gear which would be the rental house. Rental houses want to be protected in this case which is why they may want you to get general liability coverage along with the equipment coverage.

Are you renting any vehicles in addition to the equipment? Vehicles aren’t considered equipment so you may need to set up a non-owned hired auto policy as well.

Every rental houses is different so ultimately it’s up to you to talk with your rental house to see exactly what coverages they will be requiring. Nevertheless, no matter what coverages will be needed, Athos will be here to help with your insurance!  

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