October 6, 2022

Entertainment Insurance 101: The Basics of MPTV Insurance

Loring Weisenberger
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If you’re producing movies or TV, entertainment insurance is a must-have. Without it, your production would be subject to serious financial and legal risk. 

In this post, we’re laying out everything you need to know about entertainment insurance for motion picture and television production. We’ll tell you what it is, why you need it, and how to get a policy for yourself. We’ll even show you where to get a personalized MPTV insurance quote fast and easy with Wrapbook. 

Let’s get started.

What is entertainment insurance?

The term “entertainment industry insurance” refers broadly to a wide-ranging collection of insurance types that are relevant specifically to media and entertainment. Entertainment industry insurance could potentially cover anything from physical liabilities to complex copyright issues.

So what is entertainment industry insurance? In short, it’s exactly what the name implies. Entertainment industry insurance is any kind of insurance that applies directly to the entertainment industry.

Entertainment Insurance 101 The Basics of MPTV Insurance - Wrapbook - Pre-Production
What is entertainment industry insurance? Any insurance that helps media get made or experienced. SOURCE

For production purposes, we want to talk about a more specific type of entertainment business insurance. We want to talk about motion picture television insurance. 

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What is motion picture television insurance?

Motion Picture Television Insurance (or MPTV insurance, for short) is a specialized entertainment insurance policy designed to cover the probable risks in a feature film or television production. Each policy is written to meet the specific needs of a single project, and coverage usually lasts from pre-production all the way through post-production.

An MPTV policy is a highly common form of production insurance. Their construction is the bread-and-butter of the best entertainment insurance companies and independent entertainment insurance brokers working with filmmakers today. 

With Wrapbook’s MPTV insurance quote form, you can get the MPTV quote process started easier and faster than ever. All it takes is a few minutes and some basic information. 

However, while MPTV might be old hat to the entertainment insurance brokers of the world, its inner workings can seem mysterious to producers with boots on the ground. To demystify the work of entertainment insurance companies, let’s zoom out for a better look at how motion picture television insurance fits into the overall production ecosystem. 

Who needs MPTV insurance?

If you’re producing media, you need some type of entertainment liability insurance. Whether or not you need MPTV entertainment liability insurance depends on what exactly kind of media you’re producing and how you’re producing it. 

As its name would suggest, motion picture television insurance traditionally covers feature films and television series. More specifically, MPTV entertainment liability insurance covers the process of making feature films and television series. 

When designing an MPTV package, entertainment insurance companies might include coverage for your equipment, workers’ compensation for your crew, any other critical element. An MPTV insurance package might even include a contingency for reshoots in the catastrophic event that you lose your hard drives (and all the precious footage they contain) during post. 

MPTV entertainment liability insurance could potentially cover anything, provided that it’s a risk incurred during the process of making a project. For comparison, entertainment insurance brokers wouldn’t include an item like errors & omissions insurance in an MPTV package because E&O insurance only kicks in after a project is sent off into the world. 

Critically, MPTV entertainment liability insurance policies are designed to meet the unique requirements of an individual project. We’ll dig deeper into that point later on, but- for now- it gives us an important piece of information for answering the question at hand: Who needs MPTV insurance?

The short answer is that anyone producing a film or television series should have an MPTV insurance policy to cover their production. If you’re producing at a professional level, production insurance is always a must. If you’re making movies or TV, that means securing an MPTV policy for each project you produce. 

Entertainment Insurance 101 The Basics of MPTV Insurance - Wrapbook - Production
If you’re making an independent film, you need MPTV insurance. SOURCE

However, there are exceptions to every rule. As all entertainment insurance companies and entertainment insurance brokers know, MPTV policies aren’t the only game on the production insurance block. To fully understand MPTV insurance, we’ll also have to talk about DICE. 

How do MPTV entertainment insurance policies differ from DICE policies?

DICE insurance is a generalized form of entertainment liability insurance that renews on an annual basis. 

Like MPTV policies, entertainment insurance brokers build DICE policies around the risks of production. Unlike MPTV policies, entertainment insurance brokers build DICE policies to meet the needs of a production company, not an individual production.

DICE insurance policies are designed for companies that produce multiple, smaller projects in a given year and include coverages (like E&O insurance) that protect a company more broadly than the coverages within an MPTV package. Entertainment insurance brokers usually recommend DICE policies for organizations that specialize in client or contract work, like commercial production companies or VFX houses. An MPTV policy would cover an episode or season of What We Do in the Shadows. A DICE policy, on the other hand, would cover a production company that makes the commercials that air alongside the show. 

Entertainment Insurance 101 - Wrapbook - DICE and MPTV Comparison Graphic
A simplified explanation of the differences between entertainment insurances.

Because feature film and television projects carry unique creative risks, MPTV policies differ from DICE policies in that they are flexible by necessity.  Entertainment insurance companies can customize an MPTV policy to match a production’s specific risks and risk levels. 

Does your script feature stunts? An MPTV policy can be adjusted to cover them. Is your schedule heavily dependent on the health and safety of an A-list actor? You might consider cast insurance to cover delays due to injury or sickness. Does your director love shooting with flying robots? Your entertainment insurance brokers will happily throw some drone insurance into your MPTV mix. 

With MPTV, the options are endless.

MPTV entertainment liability insurance covers whatever liabilities your production might have, while DICE entertainment liability insurance covers a more generalized array of liabilities that your production company might have. In any situation, the most important thing is to have whatever production insurance your project needs to cover its own set of risks. 

To illustrate, let’s talk about what happens when you don’t have the MPTV coverage you need. 

What happens if I don’t have MPTV insurance?

Choosing the right insurance policy can be tough, but it’s an absolutely critical task for your production’s physical and financial safety. As experienced entertainment insurance brokers know too well, the consequences of having inadequate insurance coverage can leave an unwitting producer in dire straits. 

For example, let’s explore a hypothetical in which you already have a DICE policy. Your commercial production company typically does about $1 million in annual business but has recently secured financing for an independent feature film budgeted at $5 million. What happens if you somehow ignore your entertainment insurance brokers’ best advice and decide against purchasing an additional MPTV policy for the new project? 

Depending on the structure of your DICE policy, it might cover certain staples, like equipment insurance or workers’ compensation, but it almost certainly does not cover the full range of your feature production’s risks. The $5 million budget likely exceeds the parameters of your DICE policy all on its own. Add to that the lack of specific coverages and you have a recipe for disaster.

If your lead actor breaks their leg during a stunt, your DICE policy won’t cover the costs of delays or rescheduling. If you want to use pyrotechnics of any size, the limits of your DICE policy will prevent you from obtaining permits or issuing valid certificates of insurance. If you want to shoot underwater or in an airplane, your DICE policy probably won’t cover you at all.

All of the above situations expose both you and your production company to serious physical, financial, and legal harm. At best, your production will face massive logistical hurdles that will likely prevent its completion. 

At worst, you could be sued into bankruptcy or even charged in a criminal lawsuit. However, if you heed your entertainment insurance brokers’ advice, adequate MPTV insurance could protect you and company from all of this and more. 

With that in mind, let’s talk about what qualifies as adequate motion picture television insurance. 

What coverage is included in an MPTV policy?

Entertainment insurance companies can customize an MPTV insurance package to meet a production’s needs. However, there are several coverage types that are considered standard. 

Below, we’ve crafted a list of the entertainment business insurances you’ll most likely find in a motion picture television insurance package. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. The following coverages are only an industry standard starting point. 

General Liability Insurance

General liability coverage is the backbone of virtually any American entertainment insurance policy designed for production, MPTV or otherwise. General liability covers bodily injury and property damage incurred by third parties on premises and locations during filming, along with limited lawsuit coverage. 

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ compensation protects you and your crew should one of them be injured on the job. Workers’ comp covers medical expenses, lost wages, paid time off, and rehabilitation costs to cast and crew who experienced injury on set or while otherwise performing labor for your production. 

Usually, workers’ comp coverage is not provided by entertainment insurance companies. Instead, it’s provided through an entertainment payroll company, like Wrapbook

Inland Marine Insurance

Despite the name, inland marine insurance has nothing to do with the high seas or ships or any other matters of the pirate’s life. By definition, it covers damage to any property, including rental equipment, physical auto damage, and third-party property damage (i.e. damage to rented location or facilities). 

The majority of insurance claims filed by productions fall under their inland marine coverage. As such, inland marine tends to be the most expensive element of most American entertainment insurance packages.

Auto Liability Insurance

Auto liability insurance covers property damage, medical expenses, and some lawsuit coverage in the event of an accident involving one of your production’s rented vehicles. Auto liability insurance also offers some additional “non-owned” auto coverage for employees driving their personal vehicles on production business. 

Excess Liability Insurance

Excess liability insurance is simply additional liability coverage maintained on top of what you already have. Critically, excess liability coverage can be spread over multiple underlying coverages. If a claim is filed that exceeds the limitations of one of your other coverages, excess liability coverage can kick in to cover the excess amount. 

Any other coverage you need

The single most important characteristic of a motion picture television insurance package is its customizability. Entertainment insurance companies work with their clients to determine exactly what coverage their production requires. Provided coverage may fall cleanly within the categories described above or may need to be drawn up as specialized policies. The flexibility of an MPTV insurance package ensures that you can get exactly the coverage that your project demands. 

How do I get MPTV insurance?

To get motion picture television insurance, you need to apply for it. You’ll have to make contact with an insurance provider like Wrapbook, who will then assess your production before issuing a quote. 

Your entertainment insurance brokers will need as much information as possible to determine your insurance requirements and how much it will cost to meet them. That means they will likely request a series of documents for analysis, including but not limited to:

These documents will give your insurance provider a bird’s eye view of your production plan, which they will then use to cobble together whatever variety of coverages are required by your project. The provider will handle most of the coverage in your MPTV package in-house, but some policies may have to be gathered from other sources. As mentioned above, workers’ compensation is generally provided by your payroll company.

Historically, this slight fragmentation of production insurance has been thought a necessary evil. Now, however, there is an alternative.

Bring insurance and payroll together with Wrapbook

Wrapbook is a one-stop solution for entertainment payroll and production insurance. Wrapbook’s software provides a digital-first production management system that streamlines the payroll pipeline, while Wrapbook’s in-house insurance consultants craft a person-to-person experience that makes sure you get exactly what you need, when you need it.

With Wrapbook’s uniquely powerful combination of resources, producers can now go from raw idea to finished project faster than ever. 

See for yourself. Visit Wrapbook’s MPTV insurance quote form to get a free quote as fast as possible. 

Wrapping Up

Motion picture television insurance is a must-have ingredient for crafting a feature film or television series. With a little know-how and a lot of collaboration, you can put together an MPTV insurance package that protects your production without busting your budget.

To learn more, download our free production insurance ebook, or visit our Insurance Resource Page!

Free eBook

Production Insurance: The Production Company Handbook

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At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Loring Weisenberger

Loring is a Los Angeles-based writer, director, and creative producer. His work has been commissioned by a diverse range of clients- from Havas Worldwide to Wisecrack, inc.- and has been screened around the world. Through a background that blends project development with physical production across multiple formats, Loring has developed a uniquely eclectic skillset as a visual storyteller.

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