E&O: What Filmmakers Need to Know

Posted by David Hamilton on Jan 9, 2019 4:59:44 PM

 

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As a filmmaker your top priority is likely bringing your next production to life and maintaining creative inspiration, but you also know how important the business side of film production is.

This includes understanding the legal and insurance requirements needed to protect your next film. Insurance is a critical part of the film business, especially E&O (Errors and Omissions). If you understand what E&O is and how it can actually serve your production needs, you’ll set your next film up for even greater success.

Here’s how:

GETTING TO KNOW E&O

Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance covers all of the potential legal liabilities and defense costs against lawsuits alleging unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism, unfair competition or privacy, and breach of contract. It also protects against alleged libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy. Errors & Omissions is a requirement for distribution deals with studios, television, cable networks, DVD and Internet sites prior to the release of any film production. In fact, if you haven’t released a film yet, you’ll discover that production financing will probably not flow until your E&O coverage is in force.

 

HOW IT WORKS

Consider the risks: You’ve released a film that is a HUGE success, and someone accuses you of stealing their idea, or script. No surprise, this happens a lot. For example, after AVATAR was released in 2009, a man spoke out and claimed that he had actually pitched this multi award winning movie to AVATAR Producer, James Cameron a few years earlier. An E&O policy would provide a lawyer in this instance and would pay the legal fees and judgement costs if the filmmaker lost.

Planning an online production? YouTube is a hot bed for E&O disputes. A while back, a music video director posted a parody of a well known movie that went viral, garnering over 1 million views, but unfortunately he didn’t have E&O and the video was taken down as he could not afford the legal costs. A big loss for him and one he could have avoided if he had obtained E&O coverage.

 

WHAT E&O COSTS

Premiums for E&O vary based on the content of the production. A straight forward documentary typically cost $2,500 to $4,000 while you can expect to pay $3,500 to $8,000 for a feature film for the industry standard 3-5 year policy term. Every project is unique and requires a custom E&O policy. Standard limits are $1,000,000 per claim/$3,000,000 aggregate with a deductible of $10,000. Ideally, speak to an E&O insurance expert who can advise on the risks related to your particular film. We’d love to help with that.

 

YOUR NEXT STEPS

  1. The first thing an insurance provider will ask you is: Do you have “Title and script Clearance”. This is a way to discover if you’ve done your legal due diligence to make sure you aren’t engaging in copyright infringement and that you have the right to use the story and title. As you set out to obtain E&O, as a filmmaker you must begin clearance work prior to principal photography, continue during filming and complete it at final cut. Note: It can take up to 10 working days for a project to be cleared and coverage to be in place so you’ll want to start the E&O process early to ensure that your cash flow is not impacted.
  2. Once obtained, be sure to check your production/distribution/financing agreements regarding the start date for your coverage, as some financiers require Errors & Omissions coverage to be in place for the first day of production before they will provide the first cheque that allows you to start production.
  3. Your E&O policy will provide defense costs if the producer is sued and will pay the judgment costs if the producer is found liable. Until a lawsuit happens, enjoy peace of mind knowing you’ve got the right coverage in place.

 

About the contributor: David Hamilton is President + CEO of Front Row Insurance, one of the world’s largest entertainment insurance brokers. Front Row offers E&O insurance for filmmakers. E&O Policies start at $1,250 and certificates proving insurance coverage are provided immediately at no cost.

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Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance Quote: Are You Being Offered The Right Coverage For Your Needs?

Posted by David Hamilton on Jul 15, 2015 9:56:08 AM

If you are shopping for an insurance quote for producers E&O insurance make sure you are paying for the coverage that you need.

599556_62182110-resized-600To endure and succeed in today’s increasingly global entertainment business, video and film producers must continually keep pace with evolving technology, marketplace demands, competitors, and a changing legal landscape. Complicating the picture further is an expanding litany of media liability exposures, any of which can result in a calamitous lawsuit…from any number of sources.

Consider the financial impact on your organization if:

• A person featured in a production sued you for defamation and invasion of privacy.
• A woman who was mentioned in a production claimed that it caused her to suffer emotional distress.
• A writer, alleging a production used his storyline, sued you for copyright infringement and misappropriation.
• A theatre company sued your production company, alleging trademark infringement over a film’s title.

Even if you did nothing wrong, defense and settlement costs can escalate to hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars.

One solution is Chubb’s MediaGuard E&O policy that specifically addresses the nature of these risks.

Chubb has insured video and film producers for approximately 40 years, so they’ve seen producers sued over their content-related activities time and time again. They understand that in today’s constantly shifting legal landscape, the precise nature of media liability lawsuits can be difficult to predict. Unfortunately, one thing that can be predicted is the financial and reputational havoc such lawsuits can cause.

MediaGuard Highlights:

•  “occurrence form” which covers activities that occur during the policy period (regardless of when claim is first made).
• “All risk” coverage extends beyond specified “named perils” to include risks arising out of core functions of video and film production: gathering and creating information and communicating it to the public.
• Built-in merchandising coverage, including third-party licensing of any logo, symbol, trademark, or other intellectual property for use in connection with the sale of goods and services directly relating to a production.
• Built-in advertising coverage.
• Negligent publication coverage for any claim alleging harm to a person or entity that acted or failed to act in reliance upon the information published.
• Our customer fully controls whether to settle without sacrificing coverage and can choose between reimbursement of defense costs or duty to defend.
• No “insured versus insured” exclusion with respect to internal copyright disputes.
• Broad breach-of-contract carve backs for, among other things, alleged failure to attribute authorship or credit under any agreement to which the insured is a party and alleged misappropriation of ideas under implied contract.
• Punitive damages coverage, where insurable by law.
• Internet Liability clause with automatic coverage for newly created Web sites after the policy incepts.

Front Row Insurance Brokers can offer you a producers E & O insurance quote from Chubb. Click here to get a quote.

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