Production Equipment Insurance, Athos Insurance

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Complete Guide to Understanding Film and Production Equipment Insurance

Understanding the minefield that film production and production equipment insurance is a challenge.  I wanted to bring on the show Kathrine Wong and Aylene Villarin from  Athos Insurance to left the vail on all things filmmaking insurance. Now I know what you are saying,

…a podcast about insurance, snore!

but to be honest it’s a fun episode with tons of knowledge bombs.

Enjoy my conversation with Kathrine Wong and Aylene Villarin from Athos Insurance.

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The Ultimate Guide to Camera Equipment & Production Insurance

As filmmakers, there are a few aspects of the process we may not always enjoy. Budgets can quickly remind us of why we failed 9th-grade algebra. Location permitting takes out all the fun of being a “guerrilla filmmaker.” And then there’s insurance. Production insurance can sometimes feel unnecessary and the cost is often “not in the budget” for us fellow weekend warriors. However, if there is anything that is necessary when it comes to legitimizing your shoot, it is having proper and adequate insurance coverage.

Before I sound too heavy-handed like a nagging parent, hear me out. Insurance does a number of things. Most importantly, it covers you for lawsuits, and it opens doors to work with more esteemed vendors and clients. A lot of equipment owners, both rental houses, and individuals will always require insurance before they lend you their gear–especially if they’re lending it to you at a discounted rate. They want assurance that they’re covered if the gear is damaged or stolen from you, so they don’t have to sue you to recoup their losses…hopefully by now I’ve gotten your attention.

So, I decided to do a little homework and research insurance quotes and coverages from some of the top entertainment insurance brokers in the business today. Specifically, I called seven companies to see who would be the best in supplying me with an insurance policy for my upcoming project. I needed a 4-day policy to cover $50,000 worth of rented equipment.

Alas, below, are quotes, levels of service, and the overall experience I received from each and every insurance broker. Let’s dive into my results.

(Disclaimer, I am not being paid, sponsored or in partnership with any of these companies. I am acting solely independent in my research.)

Production Insurance, Camera Equipment Insurance, Equipment Insurance, Truman Van Dyke, TCP Insurance, Film Emporium, Front Row Insurance, InsureMyEquipment.com, Athos Insurance

Communication

As expected, it was quite difficult to track down answers and accurate information from most insurance brokers. Some companies didn’t respond for more than a day, and some never responded. Others only communicated via email. What?? Isn’t it 2018?

InsureMyEquipment.com doesn’t do phone calls, only emails. I get it, I myself have moved a lot of correspondence to email and text. However, when it comes to insurance, finances and a deadline looming, I need answers and the reassurance that an actual human will help when questions arise… not a delayed, cold email conversation. Truman Van Dyke was relatively fast to respond via email and TCP Insurance responded after 5 hours which was nice.

Film Emporium took a full day and Front Row never responded to any of my emails or phone calls. Hmm?

Athos Insurance was the clear front-runner when it came to communication. I called. They answered. After 1 and a half rings! And my questions were answered within our 7 min and 36-second call (yes I timed it).

Turnaround Time

In the age of Uber, Venmo and millennial immediacy, a fast turnaround time for insurance is like asking my Grandma to color correct my feature film. However, some did impress me. Athos’ painless phone call really helped me decide what I needed for a policy and it took me about 10 minutes to buy the policy online after the call had ended.

InsureMyEquipment was simple to use online as well. Like Athos, they have an “instant” online platform where I can buy a policy. And Truman Van Dyke answered pretty quickly.

Film Emporium took a full day and both TCP and Front Row’s time took far too long for anyone…even my Grandma.

Premiums

Now, let’s talk money. This was a wakeup call for me. One thing I learned is that a lot of insurance companies lock you in at a higher premium because they bake-in unnecessary coverages or terms. For example, Film Emporium requires liability insurance. Therefore my premium was $650 which was too rich for my blood.

Truman Van Dyke and Momentous were far out of my budget in the $1K or higher range. Whereas InsureMyEquipment was extremely affordable at $259. However, they locked me in at a $500 deductible.

The winner here, is yet again, Athos Insurance. At $200 and a deductible of $250, this felt more than doable considering my budget. And if I wanted to buy a bigger policy with more insurance, Athos offered that to me as well.

At the end of the day, I felt confident with a few of these insurance brokers. They were pleasant on the phone, had decent pricing and pretty solid coverage plans. However, there was one that I felt overwhelmingly confident with, and that was Athos Insurance.

When I looked into them a little more, it all made a lot more sense. Athos sounded familiar to me because they are the exclusive partner to ShareGrid. I’ve interviewed the co-founder of ShareGrid before, Brent Barbano and am a big fan of what they’ve been up to. But why it makes sense that Athos is the clear front-runner is because they’re not my Grandma. They get indie production. They are integrated with ShareGrid and have done an amazing job appealing to filmmakers like you and I. Easy to get in touch with, instant/fast insurance and most importantly, affordable.

They also made a video with ShareGrid last year. Both President, Kat Wong and Vice President, Aylene Villarin had some amazing insight on what filmmakers should do to properly cover themselves in today’s filmmaking world. Not to mention some amazing misconceptions and mistakes around production insurance.


BONUS: 5 Things To Ask your Agent When Buying Production Equipment Insurance

Let’s face it—buying insurance is often confusing and time-consuming. But it is a necessary evil, especially in this industry. Did you know that your local agent insuring your personal home and auto probably has no idea how to properly cover your production equipment? That’s because entertainment insurance is such a niche market that not all agents understand your biggest risks.

For example, if your gear is covered under your homeowners’ policy, chances are, the moment you set foot outside your house to actually use it, it is no longer insured.

So, the first step is to find an insurance broker/agent who speaks your language and really understands your needs. After you find that broker, feel free to put them to the test by asking the following questions. If they’re worthy, they’ll pass with flying colors and earn your business!

1. What is covered under my production equipment insurance policy?

A good policy includes basic coverages like accidental damage and theft. Ask your broker to define what accidental damage is. What happens if you fall into your pool with your camera? Does it include accidental damage caused by water? Although you’ll probably drive your insurance broker nuts if you list a million hypothetical situations, it’s a good idea to ask a few pertinent ones.

Make sure that your policy actually protects you from your biggest risks. For example, if you travel outside of the U.S., your policy should include worldwide coverage. If it does, make sure you understand which countries, if any, are excluded. Are you planning a trip to North Korea? That’s probably not the best idea but if you are, just know that your equipment won’t be covered there!

At Athos Insurance, our policy even includes transit coverage so that you don’t have to pay extra for things like UPS insurance when traveling with or shipping your gear.

2. What are the exclusions?

Exclusions exist in every insurance policy. That’s just a fact. Understanding them from the very beginning will help you be better prepared for the unexpected. Does your policy cover your equipment if it is stolen from a vehicle? Your broker will probably say yes. Did you know that most insurance policies require proof of physical break-in such as a broken window?

These types of policies have an exclusion for theft from an unlocked vehicle. Knowing about this exclusion may serve as fair warning to never leave your equipment in your car (it’s a bad idea anyway.) At Athos Insurance, you have the option to remove this exclusion; you can be confident that your gear is covered if stolen from your car regardless of whether there’s a broken window or not.

Do you occasional rent your equipment to others? If so, is your gear covered? What happens when the person who rented your equipment just suddenly vanishes with your $40k RED Camera? For a lot of our clients, this is their biggest nightmare. Insurance policies typically don’t categorize this as theft since you willingly rented your equipment to that person in good faith that they would return it to you.

This is a very common exclusion that you should definitely discuss with your broker. At Athos, we understand that this is one of your biggest risks, which is why we created an optional Voluntary Parting coverage for this very reason.

This leads us to the next question you should ask…

3. What optional production equipment insurance coverage should I add? 

If your vintage lens suddenly gets foggy in the middle of your shoot, are you just royally screwed? Maybe. Or you can call your broker to see if you added some bells and whistles to your policy to help you get through this very sticky situation.

At Athos Insurance, we provide free consultations so we can better understand your needs and suggests optional coverages, like Rental Reimbursement which would pay for your rental costs for a similar vintage lens so you can keep working.

And if you just happen to have the worst luck in the world, and you damage the same vintage lens you just rented, we also offer Continuing Rental Fees which would pay the daily rental fee that the rental house may charge you while their lens is being repaired.

4. What is my deductible and why does it matter?

‘Deductible’ is one of those insurance terms that we may think we understand but never really do until we’re forced to. Basically, your deductible is what your responsible for in the event of a claim. Let’s say the lighting package you rented bursts into flames, and it costs $12,000 to replace.

If your policy has a $500 deductible, the most that the insurance carrier would pay for this claim is $11,500. Easy enough? The rule of thumb is, the higher the deductible, the lower your premium. This means that if you want to save some money, ask your broker if a higher deductible is available. At Athos Insurance, we let you decide which of our deductible options is right for you.

5. How do I file a claim?

So now it’s happened. That thing you said you’d never do—leave your equipment in your car overnight—actually happened. Maybe it was a long shoot day and the last thing you wanted to do was make multiple trips to your car to unload your gear. Now you’re staring at your empty car with your trunk wide open and your gear nowhere to be found.

What do you? Call the cops? Call your broker? The answer is both. A great insurance policy is only possible if you have an equally amazing broker who understands that the most traumatic thing just happened to you and you need help. After all, this is exactly why you purchased an insurance policy right?

At Athos Insurance, we have dedicated claims specialists who will answer your questions, remind you to file a police report, and make sure that a claims adjuster is assigned to you right away. We can’t change what happened, but we can make the claims experience less stressful so you can get back to work as quickly as possible.


Enjoyed Complete Guide to Understanding Film and Production Equipment Insurance? Please share it in your social networks (FacebookTwitter, email etc) by using social media buttons at the side or bottom of the blog. Or post to your blog and anywhere else you feel it would be a good fit. Thanks.

I welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the comments section below…


BONUS: Filmmaking Resources


If you liked Complete Guide to Understanding Film and Production Equipment Insurance,
then you’ll love: 

Low Budget Filmmakers

FRIENDS, FOES & FIREWORKS, IVAN MALEKIN, SARAH JAYNE

Joshua Caldwell, Josh Caldwell, Layover, Nervous, Being Somebody, South Beach, Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF, RESIGNATION, Dig, Negative, Micro budget film
Joshua Caldwell, Josh Caldwell, Layover, Nervous, Being Somebody, South Beach, Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF, RESIGNATION, Dig

Liz Manashil, Bread and Butter, Bobby Moynihan, Lauren Lapkus, Saturday Night Live, SNL, The Orchid


Enjoyed Complete Guide to Understanding Film Production Insurance? Please share it in your social networks (FacebookTwitter, email etc) by using social media buttons at the side or bottom of the blog. Or post to your blog and anywhere else you feel it would be a good fit. Thanks.

I welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the comments section below…


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Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase or use a service. Understand that I have experience with all of these services, products, and companies, and I recommend them because they’re extremely helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I earn if you decide to buy something.

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