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Insurance for camera rentals


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#1 Sean Azze

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 11:04 PM

Hey Gals and Gents,

I've got a music vid coming up and because this is an independent production we are strapped for cash (if we're lucky, the budget will reach $10,000) We'd like to shoot in HD and I'd like to set aside the majority of the money for renting equipment, but insurance takes such a large chunk out of our funds.

I got lucky with a video I worked on back in February because the rental house cut us a deal (after days of haggling back and forth) and ended up requiring only a security deposit and nothing more. This time around I'm not sure I can deal with the same rental house because I don't believe they carry all the equipment we need.

So - any way around this? Anyone know of a company that sells insurance cheap, or would be sympathetic towards a group of rag tag filmmakers who are all working for free in the hopes of building up our reels and reaching our goals?

Thanks
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#2 Michael Collier

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 12:17 AM

a simple point: rental houses have interests in developing good relationships with new film makers. Insurance companies don't. Go to them with the rag tag story, and they may hear 'I am inexperienced with the equipment and may be more likely to break it and file claim' not necissarily true, but probably a fact of the business. Try the rental house for what you can get from them, rent the rest on insurance from another, if possible. Also keep in mind the reason insurance exists. If you don't break anything, its a waste of money. If something expensive breaks (even if its questionable weather its your fault or not) you can be in serious financial trouble, meaning you can't build the reel (and possibly not be able to finnish your clients project)

Something to think about.

Could you find any owner/operators willing to take a pay cut for indie work and then rent the cheaper stuff? Might be a good bet.
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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 08:21 PM

You could find owner operators who are willing to work with you (most carry there own insurance) or you could find a production company that carries insurance year around and try to go through them. In LA there are companies that are set up almost solely to provide insurance to low budget shoots (for a fee of course). I'm not sure if any of those exist in Miami, but it's worth looking into.
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#4 Davon Slininger

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 01:26 AM

We bought insurance directly from the rental house on the last production I shot. It was something like $200-250 for the weekend if I remember right. I don't remember the coverage but it was fantastic to be able to do it right at the rental house. Ask if they have a provider that they work with, they might have an option for you. Another benefit was that they issued any other certificates that I needed too. When I went to pick up the camera I just had them fax cert's out for the lighting package, dolly, and our truck rental too.

As Michael mentions, rental houses have an interest in developing a good relationship with you. They may have a provider that they work with, or may be very willing to help you find coverage.
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#5 Michael Collier

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 03:05 AM

Can you remember if that included coverage for locations as well, or actors? I am working on a short low budget (I hate producing! why why why did I agree to produce and DP! oh well, its a good script. It wont matter when I finnaly get to set) and need insurance for equipment (just a small grip package) and for actors maybe (had some interest from an SAG member, so I have to look into it) and location insurance (no locations have asked for insurance, even the hospital, but there is a possibility I will need insurance to get permits from the city to shoot.)

Hopefully the rental house should put me under their umbrella pollicy (hey, the first AC is a key grip full time for their production company.)
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#6 Mark Allen

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 03:05 PM

This shouldn't be taken as advice.... just observations.... I'm not a lawyer, insurance agent, or door to door salesman...

Most indie productions for short films simply pay the rental house a fee (like 10%) to be covered under their insurance. All the rental houses I know do this.

For location - Most indie prods don't get permits and don't get insurance for their locations (as long as it is not required). Smart? No comment.

For people - again, it might not be legal, but if you're not paying people it's sort of hard to pay them workers comp etc. Most indies seem to just ignore this whole thing. Smart? no comment.


If you are trying to get full production coverage, one thing that indies do is partner with an existing production company and then use their insurance package. Insurance paid by year might be like $10k while by weekend it is $3k. Six months maybe 4k. It's the price of admission which is the hard point. So, production companies who carry their own insurance will work with indies often and the production is run under their production banner for the purposes of production - they don't try to own or brand your film. That company has to be the one writing all the checks, but with a good production company, you actually can hire them to set up all kinds of deals and such for you and it works out well for about a third the price of the insurance direct. Note that I said the production company partners with you and not that you rent their insurance - the latter being illegal and also very frowned upon in the industry. The former being perfectly acceptible.
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#7 Michael Collier

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for the advice. I had heard of this method before, and as a will probably find something like that to work. Like I said, the prod. house's key grip is my first AC, so co-production would be easy to set up. I am unsure what kind of insurance coverage I will get. The guy from the muni called back today and told me he found a way to clear my shoot (I need 6kw of light on a sidewalk to do a cafe night for day) without permiting, which means without a need for insurance, I assume. I was walking into a shoot when he called, so I didn't get all the details. Now apparently the guy to clear the parking lane right next to sidewalk is another guy (who is not the same guy to clear the driving lane past that, thats also the sidewalk guy.)
ahh, burocracy, how I love it.

I find if you ask people the right way you can get things cheap (or reduce their requirements effectivley making it cheaper. in small production towns like mine it makes things easier. I am sure you walk into any cafe in hollywood and they have a rate card to shoot in that location, including insurance requirements.)

and no, I won't take your advice as a replacement for legal council. thanks for the advice though.
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#8 Joe Lotuaco

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 09:13 PM

In LA there are companies that are set up almost solely to provide insurance to low budget shoots (for a fee of course). I'm not sure if any of those exist in Miami, but it's worth looking into.



How do these production companies work exactly? What do they typically expect in return for partnering up with a lo-no budget production since they don't try to own/brand the film? Are there companies like this in NYC? I'm sure there would have to be since NYC has a pretty significant indie community, right?

Edited by Joe Lotuaco, 23 September 2006 - 09:13 PM.

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#9 Matt Workman

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 11:16 PM

I have worked for several companies in NYC and one or two have given a similar offer to be the official production company (insurance, payroll, etc.) if the budget allows. i.e. they get paid.

They already are paying for the insurance and other corporate options, this is just extra money, connections for them. What they want varies on different projects. If the project has a chance at national exposure they may want their name on it somewhere, but most likely if you are going to them it won't. So they will take your money, credit free.

Matt :ph34r:
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#10 steve hyde

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 03:45 PM

FYI

...just asked my USAA insurance rep about production equipment coverage and learned that I can carry up to $100,000 with a $500.00 deductable for $350.00 per year. This is perfect for my upcomming student projects that require a modest package.. (a-minima and set of primes)

Steve
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#11 Bob Hayes

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 08:57 AM

Just a work of warning when doing these independent projects it is very easy to become the producer by default. You may find yourself scrambling to put crew and equipment together. A rental house my help you out with equipment insurance. But, if someone gets hurt on your set and you are the producer you may be liable. I?d be very selective of the projects you put yourself in that position on if you don?t have full insurance.
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#12 Timothy David Orme

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Posted 26 October 2006 - 09:32 AM

Just a work of warning when doing these independent projects it is very easy to become the producer by default. You may find yourself scrambling to put crew and equipment together. A rental house my help you out with equipment insurance. But, if someone gets hurt on your set and you are the producer you may be liable. I?d be very selective of the projects you put yourself in that position on if you don?t have full insurance.


So, this leads me to a question I've been avoiding for a long time because I'm either a) an independent film maker, or B) cheap: What insurance is best to get to provide a film/film company with full coverage for actors, crew, equipment? Also, I wonder what companies insure such a thing. Do most people/production companies get insurance on a per film basis or a yearly basis?
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#13 Bob Hayes

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 12:20 PM

There are three ways to approach it. One you get insurance on a per film basis. This figure is based n the size of the film and what you plan on doing. Most feature companies do this. If you plan on doing lots of smaller productions all year long then it makes sense to get insurance which would cover your company rather then the specific project. You could also team up with a production company who works enough to have insurance coverage all year. You would then bring them in as a partner on your film. I?ve done this when doing smaller corporate one and two day projects. If the project costs $50,000 the production company would get extra money for taking on the risk. It?s tough to work in the US with out insurance. You can?t rent gear and the potential risk of a liability is very real with regards to property damage and injury. Also many locations require the company to carry insurance just to film there.
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#14 steve hyde

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 12:50 PM

Bob,

Thanks for chiming-in on this. You raise some excellent points for consideration.

Steve
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