Entertainment insurance is a group of policies that protects producers, crew, equipment, and filming locations from potential losses. Common policies include general liability, property, and media liability insurance. Small production companies can typically obtain general liability and film production insurance for under $1,000 annually. Buying a business owner’s policy (BOP), which bundles coverage, provides savings.
The Hartford is one insurer that offers a business owner’s policy that is structured to meet the specific needs of various industries, including music, film, and entertainment production. Business owners in this industry can use The Hartford to get the right amount of coverage for the right price. Visit The Hartford today to get a quote in minutes.
What Entertainment Insurance Is
Entertainment insurance is actually a group of business insurance policies that provide protection against losses related to equipment, personnel, and more. Many entertainment businesses require media liability insurance in case of defamation or copyright claims. Additional coverage specific to production type, including film production insurance, may be needed.
A theater or a film producer could be sued if an injured crew or cast member gets hurt on set. Other businesses could be sued for copyright violations for using someone else’s song. Entertainment insurance can cover these risks by paying for the business owner’s legal expenses and related damages. When you have the right production coverage, you’re prepared for these and other losses.
Top Entertainment Insurance Providers for Media & Film Production
Production companies that want to work with a leading insurer for customized policies
Media professionals who want multiple quotes from reputable carriers for full-spectrum coverage
Studios that conduct small productions over a short time period but still need coverage
Documentary producers seeking annual package policies providing broad coverage
Entertainment businesses that want agents to compare coverage and costs
The Hartford is among the best small business insurance companies for nearly any industry—including entertainment and production. Its team of agents work to meet your exact coverage needs by offering customized policies specific to each individual business. The Hartford provides industry-leading customer service by offering ongoing support once your policy is purchased. Get a free, no obligation quote in minutes.
CoverWallet is an online insurance broker that works with top-rated carriers to deliver broad coverage to media professionals. Individuals who work in entertainment often utilize specialized equipment or high-value items that need protection. Instead of completing applications with each insurer, you can complete one easy application to receive multiple quotes to compare in just minutes. CoverWallet also offers coverage plans in different packages to meet your unique needs.
If you’re doing a short project over a specified time frame, InsuredProduction is the right choice because coverage is specifically focused on small, fast shoots. Ideal for filming corporate videos, music, TV pilots, training films, and public service announcements (PSAs), InsuredProduction covers productions with a maximum filming duration of 60 days and a budget up to $1 million.
Front Row Insurance specializes in annual production insurance for documentary producers. If you’ll be filming multiple productions over a year or your project spans many months, an annual policy purchased from Front Row ensures you’re covered for the duration. Front Row offers several policies that are available in both the U.S. and Canada, but some are not available nationwide. Options for coverage are also broad, and policies can protect props, wardrobe, rented equipment, general liability, auto accidents, and more.
When you’re unsure of which insurance provider to use, reach out to the agents at Insurance321. Their team of experts shop for your exact coverage needs to find you the best policy at the best price. With Insurance321, carriers are able to compete for your business. Busy media companies can get multiple quotes in as little as four minutes.
What Entertainment Insurance Covers
Media and entertainment companies should consider obtaining different types of coverage, including BOPs, media liability insurance, film and video production insurance, production completion bonds, and workers’ compensation. Together, these policies cover risks such as liability if you’re sued, problems with production, damage to property, and injuries to staff.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance covers production companies from financial losses due to third-party claims for bodily injury or property damage, including coverage for legal expenses if you’re sued. Due to the nature of the work, entertainment businesses almost always involve third parties, so they’re at an increased risk for liability lawsuits. Policies also typically cover advertising injury, such as defamation and copyright infringement, and immediate medical attention for injured people.
Shooting locations and venues may require companies to carry a minimum amount of general liability before they’ll contract with them. Rented premises need reassurance that if there are damages, you have adequate protection and coverage to help recoup the loss.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance covers business-owned structures and the contents of those structures, such as equipment, furniture, fixtures, signs, and more. Film producers, theater company directors, and other entertainment business owners who rent space can get property insurance that only covers their business-owned property—also known as contents-only coverage. Commercial property usually covers damage from hail, windstorms, fire, theft, and vandalism.
For affordable coverage, small entertainment businesses can buy a business owner’s policy, which bundles general liability and property coverage into one package. BOPs are generally less expensive than buying two separate policies and more convenient to manage.
Media Liability Insurance
Media liability insurance is a type of specialized errors and omissions insurance, or professional liability coverage, designed to protect your company if you’re sued based on work produced. Media liability covers claim costs associated with a lawsuit for defamation, copyright violations, plagiarism, invasion of privacy, and other related offenses.
Video & Film Production Insurance
Video and film production insurance bundles coverage for potential losses incurred when filming so you can recover lost funds when problems arise. Video or multimedia production can be very expensive, and many things can go wrong during the process, from problems with props or equipment to damage to the film after the shoot is done.
Typical video and film insurance policies cover:
- Costs for re-shoots caused by loss or damage
- Multiple cameras
- Liability on multiple locations
- Film stock
Policies are either sold as DICE (documentaries, industrials, commercial, and educational) policies for video production companies or as short-term producer policies for feature films and short-duration productions. These types of projects often take place throughout the year and require continuous coverage for the duration of the project.
Production Completion Bonds
While not technically a type of film production insurance, a production completion bond is a type of surety bond that guarantees a finished project, on time and on budget. They may be required to secure financing for independently funded projects. If a bond guarantees a motion picture that ends up over budget, the guarantor—the insurer that issued the bond—will pay the excess amount. If the film isn’t delivered, the guarantor will repay money invested by financiers.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance provides protection in case any employee is hurt while doing production work. Most film, video, and production companies have many employees on set, sometimes engaged in dangerous physical tasks. Workers’ compensation covers medical costs, loss of wages, and disability benefits in the event an employee is injured on the job.
Independent contractors are often used in the entertainment industry, but they are typically exempt from workers’ compensation coverage. Additionally, on-location productions in other states should research that state’s workers’ compensation requirements to ensure compliance.
Other Types of Entertainment Insurance
In addition to the entertainment insurance coverage above, you may also need other policies to protect against losses. Music, film, and entertainment producers may wish to consider commercial auto insurance, equipment coverage, and cast coverage. Talk to an insurance agent to find out which type of additional coverage is available to your company.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Commercial auto insurance covers situations when a business-owned vehicle is damaged in an accident or by some other means, such as weather or vandalism. Entertainment companies that rely on vehicles to conduct their operations, such as regularly visiting sets, making deliveries, or transporting people, typically need commercial auto coverage.
Commercial auto insurance typically starts with liability coverage to pay for damage you or your employee may cause to others. However, you can opt for coverage that pays for damage to your vehicle or vehicles you rent, lease, or hire. Some business owners also get coverage for immediate medical care for injured passengers, roadside assistance, and comprehensive and collision.
Entertainment Equipment Coverage
If you have expensive specialized equipment, such as very costly cameras or sound equipment, a standard property damage policy may not provide sufficient coverage. You may need additional miscellaneous equipment coverage. This type of coverage can also protect you in case you damage rented equipment and owe money for the equipment and loss of use.
Cast Coverage Reimbursement
Cast coverage reimbursement provides coverage for costs associated with completing a project when a performer or director becomes sick or passes away. If your star suffers a serious illness and cannot finish the film, you may have to replace the performer and re-shoot any scenes you’ve already completed. Cast insurance can cover the expense.
What Entertainment Insurance Doesn’t Cover
Many standard policies do not provide coverage for high-risk activities unless you purchase supplemental add-ons. These add-ons can be purchased from the insurer providing your primary policy, but you’ll need to pay additional premiums in order to get the extra coverage.
For example, you may need specialty add-ons if your production involves:
- Aircraft insurance
- Filming underwater
- Using drones during filming
- Working with animals
- Filming on or under water
Policies also do not provide coverage for criminal acts committed by the insured, such as intentionally violating state or federal law on the use of explosive devices. However, if you’re concerned about employee dishonesty, such as theft of your filmed footage, you can purchase a commercial crime policy for added protection.
Entertainment Insurance Costs
Because you cannot just buy one policy, your entertainment insurance cost is the total premium for several different kinds of insurance. For example, while video production insurance may cost as much as 2.5% of your total film production budget, a BOP might cost between $500 and $3,500 for $2 million in coverage, and media liability insurance is $1,500 to $2,500 for $3 million in coverage.
General Liability Insurance
$400 - $1,800
$0 - $1,000
Commercial Property Insurance
$400 - $1,500
Business Owner’s Policy
$500 - $3,500
Media Liability Insurance
$1,500 - $2,500
Video Production Insurance
2.5% of films total budget
Production Completion Bonds
1% - 3% of total bond amount
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
$891 - $2,482
Factors affecting costs include:
- Project costs: A more expensive project means more potential for something to go wrong with filming or if you fail to deliver on time. Insurers charge more for the added risks on expensive film and media projects.
- Past claim history: If you have a long history with no claims, insurers view you as low risk. However, if you have made claims in the past, it raises red flags for insurers that you may be prone to problems, and you’ll be charged higher premiums as a result.
- Experience in the industry: Insurers value experience gained over time. The longer you’ve been working in your field, the better you’re likely to be at your work and the less chance of problems arising. As a result, the cost of entertainment insurance goes down.
- Number of employees: The more workers you have, the greater the risk of injury and the more likely it is for an employee to cause a problem during production. The added risk means higher premiums.
- Equipment and materials: The value of equipment, props, sets, and related materials all impact the cost of an entertainment insurance policy.
Who Needs Entertainment Insurance
The entertainment and media industry includes a large spectrum of businesses and professions. Whether you’re a sole proprietor with a magic business catering to parties or you own an indie movie production company, you need entertainment insurance to help your business recover from potential losses and ensure the show goes on.
Some professions and businesses that may benefit from entertainment insurance include:
- Post-production facilities for film, video, and audio
- Equipment rental businesses (e.g., cameras, sound, props, wardrobe, and so on)
- Videographers, photographers, and audio professionals
- Scenery and set design and fabrication companies
- Meeting or trade show services
- Talent agencies
- Film, television, and video producers
- Entertainment venues (e.g., theaters, concert halls, and so on)
- Entertainers (e.g., musicians, clowns, dancers, and so on)
For example, say you run a community theater group that owns a local event space for productions. During rehearsals for a new show, a windstorm knocks a tree through the backstage door, resulting in damage to the set, props, and wardrobe. The repair and cleanup also requires a delay to the rehearsal schedule and pushes back opening night, forcing you to refund tickets. Entertainment insurance can help cover the property damage and performance disruption.
Tips on Getting Entertainment Insurance
If you’re a music, film, or entertainment professional, these tips can help you find the right comprehensive policies to meet your needs.
1. Obtain Coverage Before Getting Started
Getting insurance at the right time isn’t just about protection from loss—you may be required to have coverage in order to get your project off the ground.
“You’ll be required to obtain at least a general liability policy any time you’re required to obtain a permit for filming or when leasing a location for the purposes of filming.”
– Kevin Topper, Niche President, ProSight Specialty Insurance
It can take time to get the right coverage and obtain certificates of insurance so you can provide proof of your policies, so begin shopping for insurance early.
2. Find out About Policy Exclusions
The terms of your insurance coverage can vary from one policy and provider to the next, so make sure you understand exactly what is covered—and what exclusions each policy may have.
“It’s important to disclose any stunts, pyrotechnics, or hazardous filming activities to make sure there are no exclusions applicable to these exposures,” advised Topper.
If you’ll be engaging in higher-risk activities during the production process, most insurers allow you to obtain add-on coverage for these hazards.
3. Work With a Broker Specialist
Topper recommended getting expert help in finding the insurance coverage you need.
“Production companies should seek out a broker who specialize in entertainment and media to insure their projects appropriately,” Topper said.
When shopping for coverage, you can expect to be asked about production experience, expected types of production you’ll be doing while covered by the policy, production location, and hazardous activities. A broker can help you to find a policy tailor-made to meet your needs and priced appropriately given your level of risk.
Entertainment Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you have questions about buying production insurance, the Fit Small Business forum is a great place to get your queries answered. You can also check out the answers to some frequently asked questions below to learn more.
What’s the difference between short-term production & annual insurance?
Short-term production insurance policies provide coverage only for a particular project. Short-term policies cover projects of very short duration, like films that take a day to produce. Annual policies provide coverage for all projects completed throughout the year. Price differences between short-term policies and annual policies may be small, so get quotes for both.
Do I need insurance to begin a film production?
You often need a shooting permit and insurance to begin shooting a film production, especially if you’re in public. Many municipalities require a certificate of insurance—typically a $1 million commercial general liability policy—before they will grant a shooting permit. It is best to contact the local government office for more details.
When do you pay premiums for production insurance?
For most production insurance policies, premiums are typically due at the start of the project, when coverage is obtained. However, if you purchase an annual policy, it’s possible to pay in monthly installments after making an initial down payment, typically equal to around 25% of the annual premium cost.
If you are producing video, film, or music, you need entertainment insurance to protect your company against potential losses. Shop for music insurance or film production insurance before beginning production to ensure you can secure financing. Bundled coverage can be the best approach to save money on entertainment insurance while ensuring you’re fully protected.
The Hartford is a well-established company that offers insurance for companies in the media and entertainment industries. If you’re engaged in entertainment production, you can use The Hartford to get coverage that meets your specific needs by filling out its simple online application.