Tyler Ward Stephenson
July 30, 2021

What is Film Equipment Insurance (and Why You Need It)

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You have your script. You’ve scouted your locations. Your actors are prepped and ready to go. But before you roll the camera, you should probably invest in some film equipment insurance.

Now purchasing production gear insurance can be a daunting challenge – one that might not be the sexiest part of filmmaking. However, finding the right film equipment insurance policy can mean the difference between getting fully refunded and having to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Filmmakers insurance is not as expensive as you might think and is worth every penny. In this article, we walk through the basics of entertainment equipment insurance, along with a few pivotal questions you should ask your insurance broker before buying.

What is film equipment insurance?

A typical film equipment insurance policy protects you from damage and/or theft of your equipment, whether it is from a rental house or your own. Your policy cost will usually depend on the worth of your equipment, as discussed with your insurance broker.

Filmmaker insurance can be purchased for an individual project, monthly, or even annually. If you’re shooting multiple projects in a year, then you’ll probably want an annual policy, potentially even a DICE policy depending on your project. Whereas, if you’re shooting one project, then you might want film equipment insurance for one shoot.

What equipment is covered depends on your policy; however, most equipment policies cover any equipment used in pre-production, production, and post. That’s to say it’s more than just camera insurance – it can also include any videography equipment, sound equipment, and even computers you use.

What is Film Equipment Insurance - Film Equipment Coverage Infographic - Wrapbook

Under most policies, cameras, lights, reflectors, mics, cables, batteries, tripods, dollies, lenses, and even camera bags are covered.

Insurance is designed to protect you, so it’s crucial to be honest with your brokers, providing them with as much detail as possible. That way, when things go wrong, your filmmaking insurance does its job.

What does film equipment insurance cover?

At a minimum, most film equipment insurance policies will cover accidental damage and theft. However, what encompasses “accidental damage” is often up to your insurance provider. Let’s say you drop your RED Camera in a hot tub. Some entertainment insurance brokers might determine that type of damage requires a separate water policy.

In terms of theft, it’s pretty straight forward – with one major exception. If you rent out your film equipment on a site like ShareGrid or directly, and your renter steals it, you might not be covered.

What is Film Equipment Insurance - ShareGrid Insurance - Wrapbook
Before renting out your short film equipment, you can purchase production gear insurance directly from ShareGrid.

While you might expect to be covered by your personal camera insurance, you often need to purchase voluntary parting coverage. Unlike when your gear is stolen from a car, in these cases you’re willfully turning over your equipment to another.

If you’re renting out your equipment, voluntary parting coverage is a must. However, not many film equipment insurance agencies in Los Angeles or New York will offer it.

Beyond damage and theft, a great filmmaker insurance policy will cover exactly what you need and not a bit more if you’re in the market for cheap camera insurance.

A GREAT FILM EQUIPMENT INSURANCE POLICY COVERS:

Below is a basic list of what should be included in a basic cheap film equipment rental insurance agreement.

  • Accidental Damages
  • Replacement Cost Coverage
  • Theft
  • Lightning and/or Explosions
  • Fire
  • Earthquakes
  • Windstorms
  • Hail and Flood
  • Nationally Declared Acts of Terrorism
  • Smoke and/or Water Damage
  • Falling objects
  • Worldwide Coverage
  • Transit and Shipping
  • Afloat or underwater

You should also consider adding on voluntary parting and/or conversion insurance if you’re going to rent out equipment. As always you should check with your broker to ensure you’re protected in order to avoid additional expenses. You’ve done the hard work, make sure it pays off.

What DOESN’T film equipment insurance cover?

When chatting with your broker, it’s far better to not only know what your policy covers, but also, what it doesn’t.

For instance, if you’re renting out your equipment and it’s stolen, you’re often not covered under a standard policy because you willfully gave your equipment away.

If you like to leave your doors unlocked and someone steals your boom mic, you might not be covered either.

Insurance exclusions exist for just about any policy you buy. But luckily, you can often counter them by purchasing another policy.

What is Film Equipment Insurance - Christopher Nolan iMax Camera - Wrapbook.jpeg
Needless to say, the IMAX cameras used by Christopher Nolan require film camera insurance without many exclusions.

But most of us aren't working with Nolan budgets so its best to talk an insurance expert when purchasing your policy.

How much does film equipment insurance cost?

A basic minimum short-term rental equipment package can start from $250, while an annual production equipment insurance package can start around $450. An annual photography equipment insurance package for private event use can start around $175.

Ultimately, how much you pay will be determined by your policy’s premium and deductible.

In most cases, your equipment insurance policy will cover all of equipment for no additional cost. That means instead of going out and buying photo production insurance, lighting equipment insurance, film camera insurance, or some other type of professional video equipment insurance, you can cover it all with one.

FILM INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLES AND PREMIUMS

A film insurance premium is more or less the amount of money you will have to pay to receive an insurance policy. Your film equipment insurance cost will change due to many different factors – for example, the cost of your equipment, the time and dates of your filming schedule, and where you are filming.

A deductible is the amount you will pay once you make a claim. For example, if a $10,000 camera is stolen and I make a claim while having a $1,000 deductible, I will receive $9,000 from the insurance company.

The lower your premium, the higher your deductible, and vice versa.

If you’re looking to buy cheap camera insurance, you might opt for a policy with a low premium, so you don’t have to pay a lot for your policy. However, if your camera bursts into flames, you have a higher deductible, meaning you won’t get as much money back.

Where to buy film equipment insurance?

Back in the golden days of Hollywood, you would have to ask friends for an entertainment insurance broker they trusted, pick up your landline, and hold.

Today, the best and easiest place to begin your film equipment insurance search is (you guessed it) the internet. While Google can offer provide a plethora of great results; it's best to find lists of insurance companies online that really outline the strengths and weaknesses of each insurance agency.

While one insurance agency may be great for someone producing a mostly underwater high-octane thriller, it may not be ideal for the filmmaker shooting on a budget between $10k and mostly favors.

INSURANCE AGENCIES TO BEGIN YOUR SEARCH

By no means an exhaustive list of film insurance agencies, these are some places to begin your quest for film equipment insurance.

  • Wrapbook is a modern film insurance agency and payroll service in one. Offering short term production insurance and annual DICE polices, Wrapbook ensures you get maximum coverage for the lowest cost. Try the free, fast, and intuitive quote builder or you can always reach out to an insurance expert.
  • Film Emporium, like Wrapbook, specializes exclusively in filmmaking insurance. In order to get a quote for video camera equipment insurance, photo production insurance, or lighting equipment insurance, you can chat with one of their reps 24/7.

No matter who you pick to issue your film equipment policies, pick someone. And be ready with your COIs well before shoot day.

How does insurance work with rental houses?

There's no question that you need film equipment insurance, but this is especially the case if you’re getting your gear from a rental house. Though, this process can sometimes be confusing as to how insuring rented equipment works.

Some rental houses offer their own equipment insurance, which you can optionally purchase, and purchasing your rental house’s insurance can be as easy as just paying an add-on fee to your rental agreement. However, you might leave yourself vulnerable to some of the exclusions we’ve talked about above.

What is Film Equipment Insurance - Camera Rental House - Wrapbook
Video camera equipment insurance is far cheaper than replacing a camera that isn't yours.

Often the best option is cover rented equipment through your own policy. In order to do this, you’ll have your filmmaker insurance provider issue you a certificate of insurance, or COI,. This document serves as proof of your insurance policy so that rental houses know you’re covered in the event of damage or theft.

Plus, some rental houses require you provide a COI, before they rent to you. Great entertainment insurance brokers can spin up your COI in an instant. With Wrapbook, you’re given access to a portal to add your own COIs, or request to purchase a policy and receive a COI directly.

How to file a film equipment insurance claim

In the event that something does go awry, then you’ll need to file an insurance claim. And the way to do that? By contacting your film insurance broker.

From there, your insurance broker will walk you through the necessary steps to get your equipment repaired or replaced.

What is Film Equipment Insurance - Broken Window Coverage - Wrapbook
There goes your short film equipment.

In the case of theft, you’ll likely need to provide evidence of robbery and file a police report. For instance, if someone smashed your apartment window and grabbed your tripod, you’ll need to send your broker a picture.

Entertainment equipment insurance vs. personal insurance

Sometimes, your personal insurance for your home will offer to cover your camera and gear as part of your bundle. However, this should not be mistaken for film equipment insurance.

More often than not, your personal home plan won’t protect your film equipment the moment you leave your home or use it for business purposes (i.e. why you bought the gear in the first place).

Although the principles might be the same, it is essential to know that your personal insurance may not cover your personal equipment on a commercial shoot. This is why you should always chat with an entertainment insurance broker versus any other type of broker.

SAVE MONEY BY BUNDLING

Finding great film equipment insurance in Los Angeles, New York, and everywhere in between can often be tricky. However, a great way to save on cost is having your entertainment broker bundle other packages with your film equipment policy.

Wrapbook, for example, a film equipment insurance based in Los Angeles and New York, can add a film equipment policy onto your annual production insurance policy at the lowest cost to you.

Plus, their quote builder is free and easy to use.

What is Film Equipment Insurance  - Insurance Quote Builder - Wrapbook
You can get an insurance quote in a matter of minutes.

Instead of trying to cut costs on one policy, why not save on other policies you need?

Wrapping Up

Insurance for film, TV, and commercials is absolutely necessary. Whether you need it for videography equipment insurance, lighting equipment insurance, or just your own personal camera insurance, it's a lifesaver.

It might take some time, but calling a broker and asking the right questions will help ensure correct coverage so you never have to worry about filing claims. If you have any questions about insurance, reach out to one of our experts.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we're all about providing the very best free resources to producers and their crews. However, this post is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Answers do not create a company-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any action that may affect your decisions or rights.

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About the Author

Tyler Ward Stephenson

Tyler Ward Stephenson has spent the last five years working in the Los Angeles entertainment industry in a wide variety of roles, as production assistant, director, and producer.

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