Films can take many forms, but the need for stunts and other visual flair unites many of them across genres. Stunts can be as simple as avoiding computer-generated imagery (CGI) bullets or as complex as utilizing real car crashes and explosions.
Therefore, as some stunts are more dangerous than others, insurance coverage for this element of film production can be incredibly challenging. Film studios are highly encouraged (and often required) to obtain production liability insurance.
Still, the protections offered by this coverage may be limited for stunt work.
Here is what film studios need to know about production liability insurance for stunt-related liabilities and how to bridge any gaps in coverage for the broadest spectrum of protection.
Does Production Liability Insurance Cover Stunts?
The short answer is that production liability insurance can cover crew injury on set. However, it may or may not extend to stunts depending on their complexity and who performs them. Many stunts are considered too dangerous to be included in a standard production liability policy, and those tricks and visual effects that are simple enough to qualify for inclusion may not be labeled as stunts.
Most insurance policies will explicitly list an exclusion for stunts labeled as “hazardous” without the prior consent of the agency insuring the production. Stunts not labeled as hazardous may still qualify.
The resume and experience of the production’s stunt coordinator are of particular value here, as someone with extensive experience can liaise with the insurer and work toward greater inclusion of some of the production’s stunt work. They can sometimes avoid extra premiums for stunt inclusion depending on the quality of their stunt management experience.
Stunts That Are Likely Not Covered By Production Liability Insurance
As mentioned, stunts labeled as hazardous are not typically included under production liability insurance. What is defined as “hazardous” may vary by insurance agency but almost always has:
- Stunts involving fire and pyrotechnics
- Stunts requiring explosions
- Stunts using authentic weapons, such as swords or firearms
- Stunts involving high-speed vehicles
- Stunts in which the actor is in free-fall out of an airplane or from a high place
- Underwater stunts
- Stunts requiring engagement with caves or climbing
- Stunts involving animal actors, such as zoo animals, farm animals, and pets
These are just a few examples, and each insurance agency will have its list of exclusions and stunts that it is and is not willing to underwrite.
Additional Stunt-Specific Policies
While production insurance serves an essential role in creating a film, its coverage of stunts may not be sufficient for the type of visual media your studio is making. Depending on the effects you intend to utilize in your film, additional policies may be helpful for specific types of stunts.
Stunt insurance is a separate category for production studios that regularly use such tactics in their films. However, even these policies may not address especially hazardous stunts. For the most targeted coverage, it is wise to pair production liability insurance with stunt policies that address the specific stunts used in the film.
An insurance agency can craft a rider or add-on that offers protection from liability for particular stunts, and the production can rely on its overall liability insurance to cover the rest. Remember that stunts are a nuanced part of filming, and they may require additional coverage in and of themselves.
For instance, while a stunt insurance policy may cover aerial scenes, it will not typically include liability insurance for the aircraft, which must be acquired separately. Similarly, stunts that utilize boats and other watercraft may be covered by a stunt policy, but the watercraft itself may need additional protection.
The best way to ensure your production is adequately protected is to work with an insurance agency with extensive experience in the film industry. They can thoroughly evaluate the circumstances surrounding your proposed production and craft a customized blend of coverages that address the risks unique to your studio’s pursuits.
Secure Protection Against Harm During Stunts
Whether you are creating a high-octane action film or an autobiographical recreation, your studio can benefit from production liability insurance as a baseline coverage for your crew as they work. However, evaluate whether stunt-related liabilities require additional protection from policies tailored to their specific hazards.
The experts at MFE Insurance can help you understand how production liability insurance fits into your stunt plans and whether you need supplemental coverage. Contact MFE Insurance to share your project vision and collaborate on various coverages that leave your studio protected and confident during shoots.