Should You Get Insurance for Your Low-Budget Indie Film? We Chat to Performance Film & Media Insurance to Find Out More

Posted July 5th, 2018 by Helen Jack


One of our sponsors for this year’s SHORT CUTS Film Competition is Performance Film & Media Insurance. We were keen to partner with them for our inaugural career-development scheme because they work a lot with filmmakers. From putting together bespoke insurance packages, to providing their simple online system, they’ve made it easy for filmmakers working on a tight budget to get the cover they need, when they need it.

We thought it would be nice idea (and useful for Shooters) for us to have a chat with Michael Wood at Performance and ask him some questions about how they work with filmmakers. Over to Michael…

Hi shooters!

I hope you are all having a good 2018 so far as we enter the hot summer months! Some of you may have used us for insurance in the past, got a quote from us or seen our name at an event of two!

I’m Michael Wood from Performance Film & Media Insurance – one of the leading film & media insurance brokers in the UK. Our main purpose is to provide cost effective insurance solutions for the film and media industry, whether it’s for a short or a feature, or you’re a freelancer on a production, we provide insurance that protects you. As well as this, we also help connect our clients with other businesses within the industry, which is key, particularly when you looking for a favour or two! As well as playing our part in connecting people within the industry, we have just launched our own Short Film Competition with some good prizes. The top prize is £1,500 cash, post production time, kit hire worth £1,000 (cost of the hire) and a title clearance / script review from a leading film law firm. Not a bad way to start financing a project! More information on our competition can be found here.

Anyway, enough about us, but hopefully that has given you a flavour of what we do. I’ve been asked to answer some questions that are applicable to SP members, who are most often working on passion projects and low-budget films.

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Q. When advertising production roles on our site, we ask members to state whether they have insurance, and if not, why not. What would you say are the biggest risks of not having insurance for a shoot?

A. There are so many potential risks and a lot of the risks will depend on the type of shoot you are doing. We are seeing that more and more productions are having to consider insurance for at least one aspect of their shoot – whether it’s equipment hire cover, or public liability insurance in order to get a film permit. Let’s take equipment insurance as an example – if you get equipment from a hire company, usually they will insist on the production having insurance in place before they release the kit to you. Naturally, at this stage insurance has to be purchased (or another route taken).

A bigger issue we’ve begun to come across is for productions that don’t have the right cover in place – this gives insurance brokers generally a bad name but also puts a production in a position whereby they have insurance that isn’t fit for purpose!

Q. A lot of Shooters are working on passion projects with very small budgets. When you’re making something so lo-fi and indie, do you really need insurance? The cost might be more than the whole budget!

Insurance in it’s simplest form is the transfer of a potential risk from an individual / company to an insurance company. In order to transfer that risk, the individual / company has to pay an insurance premium. Unless it’s a statutory cover, like employers liability or motor insurance, there is no obligation to buy insurance, unless of course a third party insists on it (i.e, a hire company). It’s about understanding the potential risks involved in your production and the potential financial impact to you. Can you afford the financial impact if the worst happens? It’s always worth speaking to a specialist insurance broker and getting a quote.

Q. Are you able to share a few examples of when insurance has been invaluable on a shoot? Any horror stories of when a shoots gone awry and insurance has been so essential?

As I am sure you’ll understand, I cannot give names or provide too much information, but I can provide some examples of when insurance would be essential.

We had a young aspiring filmmaker who bought a new £4,000 camera kit late on a Thursday evening, and although he had got a quote, was undecided on whether to buy insurance. Naturally he wanted to try out his new camera kit and had a recce on the Friday and took his kit along to “play with it on location”. Luckily, he called us on the way to the location, and after taking advice, he took out the insurance. Nothing happened that day on location but later on, when he parked up at a friend’s, his car was stolen and the new camera was taken with it. £4,000 spent the day before, gone the day after. Without insurance.

Another example is a production which has a budget of £30,000. Unfortunately, on day 2 of a 5 day shoot, the main actor was attacked on his way home sustaining injuries that meant he was unable to film for three weeks. The production team had spent a huge amount of their budget already but needed to spend an additional £18,000 in order to complete the production. Without insurance, the production team would have had to seek further investment, make huge cuts on the plans for the project or maybe even abandon the project altogether.

Q. People may think that getting a quote for insurance is a long hefty process that they’d rather not bother with. How can Shooters get a quick quote from you?

For a one off project it’s really, really simple. All you need to do is head over to and enter the information for your production and you’ll get an estimate as you go along. To get a confirmed quote will take you 4-5 minutes. You can have your policy documents in 6-7 minutes. Although the quotes and documents are produced online for ease and speed, we also have a team in the office ready to hear about your production and help you through the insurance process.

For those of you who undertake multiple projects during the course of a year, an annual policy which is flexible to cater for all of your productions could be a better option – give us a call on 020 8256 4929 and we’ll be happy to give you a quote.

If any of you have any other questions please do get in contact with me and the team.

Michael Wood, Associate Director – Head of Film & Media
Tel: 020 8256 4931

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