Elmo and Film Production Liability Insurance

Posted by Steve Beatty on Jul 20, 2015 10:53:00 AM

ELMO & FILM PRODUCTION INSURANCE

What could Elmo have to do with General Liability Insurance for Film Production?

Elmo: General Liability Insurance for Film ProductionRoyalty-free stock photo ID: 1527200630, Shutterstock

A legendary Sesame Street character loved by generations of children. Along with Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he is an icon whose scraggly red face will never be forgotten. All of this was called into question two years ago, however, when Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash was charged with sexually abusing a minor.

It has been a long and arduous battle in court, but on the heels of his final charges being dropped, it only makes sense to discuss how production liability insurance for television can protect projects from these kinds of charges.

First let us mention that most production liability insurance policies will exclude claims related to sexual abuse. This means that claims will not be paid and organizations where an employee has been charged will be left without protection. Our actONE program includes this coverage to protect the organizations only. The employee is not protected as illegal acts are uninsurable. Having said this we will cover all trial costs if he/she is found not guilty.

One of the other major features of the policy we provide is Public Relations Coverage. This foots the bill for any expenses incurred in hiring a public relations expert to manage the reputation damage that comes with sexual abuse claims.

So, what can you do to protect your organization?

Firstly, criminal background checks are a great form of due diligence that can prove you were as careful as possible in the event of a law suit. We encourage them particularly where theatres offer educational workshops involving minors.

Lastly, for projects in theatre film or television,  if anyone under the age of 18 will be on set in the company of adults employed by you, it is crucial that you divulge this to your broker in advance.

We can’t protect against what we don’t know about, and in cases like this…

One error can break you.

Topics: Theatre Insurance, Public Liability Insurance for Film

Theatre Insurance: Make A Potential Disaster A Minor Inconvenience

Posted by Steve Beatty on Jul 16, 2015 10:43:00 AM

theatre insurance

There is nothing like a night out at the theatre.

Theatre InsuranceGetting dressed up in a fine outfit. Hiring a babysitter for the kids. And being swept away in a dark room that allows you to forget about real life, if only for a few hours, is well worth the price of admission. The idea that anything could shatter the illusion is unconscionable. “What could ever go wrong?” you might ask. At a UK production of “Grumpy Old Women,” the audience found out the hard way.

At Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre, the audience was evacuated due to a pyrotechnic mishap that occurred well before intermission. Frustrated theatre goers spilled out onto nearby Regent street as firemen arrived promptly at the scene. Despite its challenges, like many great stories of the theatre, this one has a happy ending.

Ultimately  the fire was put out and the show went on as planned. Since we’re in the insurance industry however, let’s have a look at some hypotheticals.

More than almost any other hazard, fire shows just how important it is that a theatre carry good production liability insurance. Had the pyrotechnic mishap gotten out of control the damage to property and, more importantly, people could have been immeasurable. While key person insurance would have protected the lead actors, and the company’s theatre insurance would have covered sets and costumes, without the proper liability limits, an out-of-control fire is enough to draw the curtain on any business due to its potential to cause personal injury. Furthermore, one production’s damage to a theatre has implications for said theatre's future productions and revenue streams, all of which need to be protected.

At Front Row, we always make sure our theatres have air-tight insurance coverage in every respect so that ‘potential disaster’ is reduced to ‘minor inconvenience.’

In the end, “Grumpy Old Women” proved more comedy than tragedy.

We have an easy online low cost insurance solution for Canadian producers who are renting theatre space and equipment for a short period:

Get a quote in 2 minutes

Topics: Theatre Insurance

Cast Insurance For Live Performances

Posted by Steve Beatty on Jul 9, 2015 10:08:00 AM

CAST INSURANCE FOR LIVE PERFORMANCES

Cast insurance - woman actor

Here’s a scenario:

You successfully pitched the project, secured the financing, cast a couple of great lead actors in the roles and now you need to get all of the other pieces in place for the show. Of course you need some production insurance, and on this show you want some Cast Insurance on your two leads. They’re both integral to the show and it would bad for you and your investors if an injury, or worse, was to prevent one or both of them from appearing. It’s not a long run; scheduling will make it hard to extend it, so insurance is the way to go to cover the financial exposure of something going wrong with the actors.

You connect with the broker and he tells you a medical will be required on each actor. You think, “No problem - both are young and healthy”, but your contract with them doesn’t say anything about insurance. One of their agents pushes back, but in the end it’s agreed that the actor will see the doctor.

The medical is received, but … (as the reader, I’m sure you knew there was going to be a ‘but’ coming) … when the insurance company reviews it, they make note of a history of a medical condition that concerns them. The underwriter researches it and speaks with her company’s consulting physician and learns that the condition is exacerbated by stress and can really flair up if the person becomes fatigued. This is a rigorous and physical show with 6 shows a week. You begin to be concerned.

The insurers decide this is a risk they don’t want to insure. Now your concern elevates. The financial risk is high and, if the health condition becomes an issue, you will likely need to cancel the show as there won’t be time to re-cast and rehearse a new actor into the remaining scheduled performances.

As a broker, I have seen this scenario play out many times. So how can it be avoided? What are the steps a Producer can take to protect themselves from facing a major insurance policy exclusion that leaves them with a big financial exposure?

I recommend that Producers start thinking about Cast Insurance when they are budgeting their show. If you aren’t able to work the cost of understudies or swings into your budget, or if the success of the run could be affected by the loss of a lead-role actor, then you should be including Cast Insurance as a line item in your show budget.

CAST INSURANCE CONCERNS TO CONSIDER:

  • Put it in the contract. Your deal memos or engagement agreements should always address the insurability of the actor and should secure their consent to see an approved physician for a medical exam.
  • Talk to your lawyer. A pre-signed medical would be ideal, but this could leave you with a discrimination exposure if you decide not to hire based on the findings. It may be appropriate under certain circumstances, but talk to your lawyer before going down this path. Sometimes the process of negotiating the medical and insurability clause will open a discussion about something that could present an insurance issue.
  • Medical & health-related information obtained through a cast medical is extremely valuable. As Producer, you will be privy to information about conditions which could affect the actor and impact your show.
  • Cast Medical Insurance can exclude pre-existing health conditions, drug, alcohol & substance abuse, psychological disorders and performance issues such as voice or movement-related issues. If your financial risk is too high because of a health-related exclusion then you need to be able to rely on your contract with the actor to provide you with a remedy. Without the protection of a contract, you may have to accept the exposure of a policy exclusion.
  • Think about their family. The death of an immediate family member during the run will result in the actor needing to take time away from your show. How will you address this? Your insurance coverage can include Family Bereavement coverage to help deal with the costs of an unexpected cancellation, postponement or interruption.
  • Build a schedule that works. When faced with an insurance exclusion, think about how you can schedule your shows to allow time for the person to care for themselves or time for health-care support. Be sure that the actor can maintain their usual health protocols while on your show: their personal wellness is a priority.

Cast insurance can be a key component of managing the financial risks of a show. It can be used effectively to pay committed production expenses, reimburse pre-production costs and pay for sunk expenses such as media & marketing, and it can be used to pay additional costs associated with re-casting or re-scheduling shows. But, you need to have good information that enables you to develop a contingency plan for dealing with a problem if it occurs.

As with most things, information and communication are key to structuring a plan for managing cast-related risks, so open the dialogue early, build the insurance costs into your budget, and go out and cast those amazing actors in your show.

 

Related:

THEATRE INSURANCE 101 / THEATRICAL INSURANCE / PERFORMING ARTS INSURANCE

SELF-TAPING STUDIO INSURANCE / SELF-TAPE STUDIO INSURANCE

THE TOP 10 CASTING WEBSITES

MAKE A POTENTIAL DISASTER A MINOR INCONVENIENCE / THEATRE INSURANCE

BRITISH PANTOMIME AND THEATRE INSURANCE

FAMOUS STAGE DISASTERS / THEATRE INSURANCE

THEATRE INSURANCE - VENUES AND GROUPS / THEATRE COMPANY INSURANCE

4 EASY STEPS TO READING A THEATRE INSURANCE POLICY

CIRCUS INSURANCE

AERIAL INSURANCE / AERIAL ARTS INSURANCE

DANCE INSURANCE

OPERA INSURANCE

ACTONE INSURANCE / PERFORMERS INSURANCE

DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS (D&O) INSURANCE

CAST INSURANCE FOR LIVE PERFORMERS

INSURANCE FOR BODY PARTS / BODY PART INSURANCE

PROTÉGÉ: CUSTOM INSURANCE FOR ART SCHOOLS AND ARTS EDUCATORS

SAFEGUARDING YOUR STUDENTS WITH ART SCHOOL INSURANCE PART 1

SAFEGUARDING YOUR STUDENTS WITH ART SCHOOL INSURANCE PART 2

INTIMACY COACHES IN THE THEATRE WORLD / INTIMACY DIRECTORS

SHORT-TERM THEATRE INSURANCE / PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE FOR PERFORMERS

Topics: Cast Insurance, Theatre Insurance, Actor body insurance