Insurance language is often confusing. To help film makers understand their unique insurance requirements, we at DeWitt Stern Group, Inc. have put together an informal “dictionary” of commonly used film insurance terms. If we have left out a word, please let us know and we will add to it.
This informal dictionary is for reference purposes only and no coverage should be bound based on these definitions. For actual terms and conditions, call your broker or refer to your policy.
Above the Line In the movie industry, above-the-line expenditures (ATL) are negotiated or spent before filming begins. These costs can include rights for the material on which the screenplay is based and salaries for the screenwriter, lead producer(s), star actors and director. ATL personnel customarily do not include the Line Producer, Unit Production Manager or other salaried players.
In television production, above-the-line expenses include salaries for the positions mentioned above (typically all employees working under individual contracts) but are budgeted on a weekly or episodic basis for the run of a series.
Additional Insured A person or entity that is protected against loss by the terms of the policy, in addition to the named insured.
Adverse Weather Coverage for extra expense incurred by the interruption or abandonment of the production due to adverse weather conditions at the location.
Advertising Injury Arises out of oral or written publication of material that slanders or disparages a person or organization or its products or services; publication of material that violates a right to privacy; misappropriation of advertising ideas or style of doing business, or infringement of copyright, title or slogan, but not infringement of trademark and trade names alone.
Aircraft Insurance Required when a plane or helicopter is rented, leased, or borrowed for use as a picture plane, to scout locations, or for aerial photography. Hull coverage may also be required if the production company is responsible for physical damage to the aircraft itself.
Animal Mortality Provides indemnification to the production company for the value of an animal that dies during a production or for the net loss due to illness or destruction of an animal used in a production. Values of animals have to be established in advance and current Veterinarian Certificates are required.
Auto Coverage (owned/rented) Legal liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage claims arising out of the filming of the picture. Coverage may include the use of owned or non-owned vehicles, including physical damage to the vehicles. Coverage is required prior to filming on city or state roadways, or location sites requiring filming permits. Coverage does not apply to aircraft or watercraft, which must be separately insured.
Below the Line In a motion picture or television production budget, below-the-line costs include salaries of non-starring cast members and technical crew, use of the film studio and its technical equipment and travel, location and catering costs, etc. In contrast to above-the-line costs, the below-the-line budget is usually fixed. Some of the positions in the below-the-line category are director of photography, assistant directors, gaffer, grips, etc.
Bereavement Family Bereavement is an extension of Cast insurance. It indemnifies the production company for the net loss or for extra expenses to begin or complete principal photography of an insured production, due to serious illness or death of an immediate family member of any insured artist or director. (See cast insurance).
Bodily Injury Liability The liability that arises from the injury or death of another person.
Care, Custody and Control Provides legal liability coverage for loss, damage or destruction of property belonging in the care, custody or control of the production company.
Cast Insurance This coverage usually is purchased on feature films or TV productions (except documentaries) but also may be purchased for other types of production. It indemnifies the production company for the net loss or extra expenses to begin or complete principal photography of an insured production, due to death, injury or illness of any insured artist or director. Insured persons are initially covered for accident only, until they are examined and complete a medical questionnaire. The insurer then will expand the coverage to include illness. Coverage also can be extended to include kidnapping and bereavement. (See bereavement above).
Cast insurance normally begins four weeks before the first camera day; however, additional time can be purchased (Extended Pre-Production Cast Coverage).
Certificate of Insurance The insurance company document that verifies insurance.
Civil Authority Coverage extension under Extra Expense that reimburses a production for delays due to the action of a government authority.
Claims Made Policy provision limiting coverage to claims that are filed during the policy period (as opposed to an occurrence policy provision).
Clearance Procedure Procedures recommended by the clearance attorney for the production company to follow that mitigate the potential for Errors & Omissions claims.
Completion Bond A written contract that guarantees a motion picture will be finished and delivered on schedule and within budget as required by the bank or other financiers funding an independent film.
Copyright Report A research report outlining copyright procedures required to obtain Errors & Omissions Coverage.
Cost of Hire The budget costs for vehicle rentals -- used to determine auto insurance premiums.
Crime Coverage Reimburses the production company for loss of money, securities, or inventory resulting from crime such as employee dishonesty, embezzlement, forgery, robbery, safe burglary, computer fraud, wire transfer fraud, counterfeiting and other criminal acts.
Declaration The formal addition of a new production to an existing insurance program. Also the first page of an insurance policy that summarizes key information specific to the policy; sometimes called a dec page.
Deductible The amount for which an insured is responsible before the insurance company pays a claim.
DICE A type of production package policy. Acronym for Documentary, Industrial, Commercial, Educational.
Distributor Errors & Omissions Legal liability coverage, including defense costs, for claims alleging unauthorized use of titles, format, ideas, characters and plots; plagiarism and unfair competition. Also provides coverage for libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy.
Employment Practices Liability Provides defense and indemnity insurance for claims arising from the employer/employee relationship. The policy shields employers from claims of harassment, discrimination, failure to hire, wrongful termination, and includes all current, former and prospective employees, directors and officers, even the corporate entity.
Endorsement A document that changes the policy; changes to the policy language.
Entertainment Package The standard policy that covers all property and business interruption expenses on all types of productions.
Errors & Omissions Legal liability coverage, including defense costs, for claims alleging unauthorized use of titles, format, ideas, characters and plots; plagiarism and unfair competition. Also provides coverage for alleged libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy.
Essential Element Essential element refers to a person who is essential to the production. This is a policy endorsement added to cast coverage wording. A claim is made under the cast coverage if death or injury or sickness for a specified time of an essential element during pre-production or principal photography prevents the completion and delivery required by the distributors and makes it necessary to abandon the production. A separate charge generally applies.
Exclusion A specific loss or risk not covered by the policy.
Extra Expense Indemnifies the insured for extra expense incurred as a result of interruption, postponement or cancellation of a declared production as a result of loss or damage to property such as props, sets, wardrobe or miscellaneous equipment, including third party property.
Faulty Processing Covers loss, damage or destruction of raw film or tape stock, exposed film (developed or undeveloped), recorded videotape, matrices, lavenders, positives, interpositives, working prints, cutting copies, fine grain prints, color transparencies, cels, art work and drawings, software and related materials used to generate computer images, sound tracks and tapes, resulting from fogging or use of faulty materials (including cameras or videotape recorders), faulty sound equipment, or faulty developing. Faulty coverage does not include loss caused by errors of judgment in exposure, lighting or sound recording, from use of incorrect type of raw stock or faulty manipulation by the cameraman. Faulty Stock, Camera and Processing coverage can be purchased only with Negative, Film and Videotape coverage.
Fine Arts Jewelry/Fine Arts coverage is generally sub-limited under the Props Sets & Wardrobe coverage. Amounts over the sub-limit must be scheduled in the policy.
Foreign Liability Covers Bodily Injury and Property Damage liability arising out of accidents and fortuitous occurrences outside the United States of America and Canada.
General Liability General Liability covers payments the insured will become legally obligated to pay as a result of Bodily Injury or Property Damage arising out of an occurrence during filming activities. An example of a covered loss under Bodily Injury could be "trip and fall" accidents. Property damage claims relate to damage to physical objects such as a building, a set, props or cameras.
Gross Production Costs All costs, including overhead, chargeable directly to the production stated at the time of declaration of an insured production or series of productions. The following costs are not included: story, scenario, music rights, sound rights, royalties, residuals, continuity, premiums paid for the insurance, interest on loans and taxes.
Guild Travel Accident Travel accident coverage with limits required by the guild or union contacts with the producer. Coverage also may be extended to non-union employees, up to $50,000 each.
Hired/Non-Owned Auto Reimburses the leasing company or an individual for comprehensive and collision damage to a hired or rented vehicle used in an insured production, for which the Production Company has become legally liable.
Illness Coverage Indemnifies the production company for the net loss or extra expenses necessary to begin or complete principal photography of an insured production, due to death, injury or illness of an insured artist or director. Insured persons are initially covered for accident only. The insurer will expand coverage to include illness, if the person qualifies, based upon a medical examination and questionnaire.
Jewelry Jewelry /Fine Arts Coverage is generally given a sub limit under the Props Sets & Wardrobe coverage. Amounts over the sub-limit must be scheduled under the policy.
Jurisdiction Jurisdiction means the legal environment (state, city or country) that will apply to an insurance contract.
Kidnap & Ransom Coverage for payments demanded by kidnappers for the release of an insured. Most insurance policies have a deductible and exclude abductions within certain geographic areas.
Loan-Out Company A corporation that is controlled by a performer and furnishes that performer’s services.
Loss Adjuster A specialist who investigate claims for insurance companies and helps policyholders get paid for their loss.
Loss of Use I income lost due to damage or loss to tangible property, such as a camera package.
Medical Examinations Full cast coverage is subject to acceptance of a completed medical exam form and is approval by the insurance company. The cast member must be examined by a physician appointed or approved by the insurance company.
Medical Payments (Under General Liability) Reimbursement for reasonable first-aid and medical expenses for persons other than the insured or employees of the insured, injured due to the negligence of the insured.
Miscellaneous Equipment Protects against loss or damage to property such as cameras, portable generators, lighting and sound equipment rented by the production company.
Money & Securities Coverage for money and securities lost due to fire, burglary or armed robbery.
Mysterious Disappearance Claims from mysterious or unexplained disappearances are not typically covered by insurance.
Negative Film Covers the cost to recreate lost or damaged shots or scenes. If it is not possible to reshoot and the production is abandoned, negative film coverage will reimburse the insured’s expenses incurred by the production.
Occurrence (see Claims Made) A claim is paid if the event occurred during the policy period regardless when the claim is submitted.
Office Contents Provides coverage for loss or damage to office furnishings and equipment located in a temporary space.
Payroll Service Typically provides the workers’ compensation and disability benefits required by each state for cast and crew members. (See Workers’ Compensation below.)
Physical Damage Property losses arising out of direct damage to tangible property.
Political Risk Covers a company’s financial and real property assets for losses from expropriation, currency inconvertibility, terrorism and other political events. Types of coverage can include Kidnap & Ransom and Evacuation & Repatriation.
Post Production The final stage in the production of a film after completion of principal photography. Involves editing, addition of sound/visual effects, dubbing, etc.
Pre-existing Condition A medical condition affecting the artist that exists before the medical examination performed for a specific production.
Principal Photography The time period in which the production is actually shot. This does not include pre- or post-production time.
Producer/Distributor Liability Coverage for claims alleging unauthorized use of titles, format, ideas, characters, and plots; plagiarism; and unfair competition. Also provides coverage for alleged libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy.
Proposal A written offer that outlines all insurance coverage requested by the client.
Props/Sets/Wardrobe Provides coverage for props, sets, scenery, costumes and wardrobe against risk of direct physical loss, damage or destruction during the specified production period.
Quote An outline of coverage and premiums from the insurance company based on the script and production budget.
Railroad Protective Coverage for claims that arise from the production at or near railroads. Coverage includes Bodily Injury Liability, Property Damage Liability and Physical Damage to railroad property.
Risk Management Procedures that minimize the financial impact of a risk by identifying and analyzing potential sources of loss.
Statement of Health A questionnaire that must be completed by an artist in order to get coverage for full cast insurance. The form must be approved by the insurer.
Stop Date The termination date in an artist’s contract for a specific production.
Storyboard An outline or script of a production.
Stunt Breakdown An outline of stunt activity.
Subrogate After the insurance company pays the insured for a claim, it has the right to recover the amount of the loss from the liable third party.
Territory Specifies the geographic area where injury or damage must occur for coverage to apply.
Terrorism The use of violence to produce terror for political or ideological purposes. Terrorism is distinct from war in that it need not be the act of a military force or be directed by a sovereign power. Foreign acts of terrorism may be certified as an insurable loss exposure under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA).
Third Party Property Damage Provides legal liability coverage for damage or destruction of property belonging to others while the property is in the care, custody or control of the production company and is to be used in an insured production. This includes loss of use of the property. Coverage does not apply to damage caused by operation of rented or leased motor vehicles, aircraft or watercraft that are covered under props, sets, or wardrobe, or to miscellaneous equipment insurance. This coverage is not included under a Comprehensive General Liability Policy.
Title Coverage A single film title cannot be copyrighted. Therefore, during the development process, a lawyer should run a title search to discover if the title has been used before as a film title, song title, chapter heading or in newspaper articles. The search also will recommend whether your title can be used for your type of media. The more the title has been used, the safer it is to use again. If the title is connected with only one thing, for example “Gone with the Wind,” then it is inadvisable to use it. The title user can claim that diminished financial prospects by using the same or a similar title.
Treatment The starting point of a production, it outlines information about the production’s subject and its direction. The treatment describes locations, situations, stories, images, tone and color, pacing, etc. of the production. This helps in creating a budget.
Umbrella A policy designed to provide protection against catastrophic losses. It generally is written in addition to various primary liability policies, such as the business auto policy, commercial general liability policy, watercraft and aircraft liability policies, and employers’ liability coverage. The umbrella policy serves three purposes: a) it provides excess limits when the limits of underlying liability policies are exhausted by the payment of claims; b) it picks up where the underlying policy stops when the aggregate limit of the underlying policy is exhausted by the payment of claims; c) it provides protection against some claims not covered by the underlying policies after the retention.
Video Production Professional video production, or videography, is the videotaping, editing, and distributing a finished video product.
Voluntary Workers’ Compensation Extends workers’ compensation benefits to employees who may not be entitled to benefits under the workers’ compensation law.
Waiver of Subrogation The insurer relinquishes the right to collect damages from another party paid on behalf of the insured. The waiver of subrogation is referred to as a "transfer of rights of recovery."
Watercraft (non-owned) Liability Required when a boat is rented, leased or borrowed for use as a picture boat, chase boat or camera boat. Hull Coverage may also be required if the production company is responsible for physical damage to the craft itself.
Weather Insurance Provides coverage for extra expense incurred by the interruption or abandonment of the production due to adverse weather conditions at the location that which reasonably and necessarily prevents filming or taping.
Workers’ Compensation This coverage is required by state law for all temporary or permanent cast or production crew members. The policy provides medical, disability or death benefits to any cast or crew member who becomes ill or who is injured in the course of employment. Independent contractors or subcontractors are usually considered as employees for Workers'' Compensation purposes. Failure to carry this insurance can result in paying benefits plus penalties. Even though a payroll service is the employer of record, the production entity must have its own Workers'' Compensation policy.
Wrap Up An insurance program put together for advertising agencies that hire production companies to shoot commercials for their clients and for record label companies that produce music videos. The production company, post-production company and all other entities or individuals involved in the production are covered by the wrap up. Since this includes contractors or sub contractors, their bids should not include insurance costs. A wrap up program includes general liability, a production package, errors and omissions, auto liability, property damage, an umbrella and possibly travel accident, non-owned water and air craft and approved stunts. A wrap up reduces insurance costs, provides broader coverage and simplifies insurance administration.