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No Insurance Because I'm Not a Rental House?


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#1 Tom Wills

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 12:02 PM

I'd love to get the opinions of operators who've been around longer than me on a situation that just happened to me.

I'm being brought on to do a few Steadicam shots for a good friend's thesis film at Temple University. As part of my deal memo, I require a certificate of insurance covering my gear while on the film (as all operators should). I submitted the values for my equipment to the producer, and then got an email back saying that the college's university, which is covering all of the other equipment insurance, would not cover my equipment because I am an individual, not a rental house.

I called up the insurance person there (who was incredibly abrasive), and told her that this was not standard operating procedure, and that I am renting the equipment to the production just as a rental house would be. She then tried to explain to me that since I was being brought on to operate with my equipment, I was being brought on as a "consultant", and that my gear therefore couldn't be covered. When I protested, she told me that this was "Just a policy", and that there was nothing I could do about it.

At this point, I'm not sure there's anything I can do about this, but I wanted to see if this has happened to other operators before, and if there's anything that could be done in a situation like this.
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#2 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 12:15 PM

What you can do is NOT do the job or you can assume the risk yourself either with your insurance or if you don't have it, out of your own pocket.

If you take this job, all you do is perpetuate the problem for operators who come behind you and sooner or later crap like this starts an industry trend.

You not being a rental house is irrelevant. You are a small business whether incorporated or not and you and they need to treat your business as a business.

If your friend wants you to do the job then he / she needs to go to bat for you or get daily production insurance to cover "his friend's equipment".

Do you have your own insurance? I've had a few productions request proof of my insurance before they provide a COI.

Robert
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#3 Tom Wills

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 12:23 PM

What you can do is NOT do the job or you can assume the risk yourself either with your insurance or if you don't have it, out of your own pocket.

If you take this job, all you do is perpetuate the problem for operators who come behind you and sooner or later crap like this starts an industry trend.

You not being a rental house is irrelevant. You are a small business whether incorporated or not and you and they need to treat your business as a business.

If your friend wants you to do the job then he / she needs to go to bat for you or get daily production insurance to cover "his friend's equipment".

Do you have your own insurance? I've had a few productions request proof of my insurance before they provide a COI.

Robert


Robert,

I absolutely do have my own insurance, through Walter P. Dolle. Never would think of showing up on set without some kind of insurance covering my gear.

The woman at the school's insurance office did tell me that because I owned my gear, "you should have your own insurance", which I told her I did. She then seemed to not understand why I needed their insurance to cover the gear. It seems bizarre, considering that Temple's a big film program, and other Steadicam operators must have worked for productions there before.

I think that the producer and I need to have a talk and figure out what a solution here should be. As you said, taking the job solely under my insurance starts a bad precedent.
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#4 RonBaldwin

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 01:33 PM

same argument occurs with studios who have been trying for years to not cover our gear and to make us solely responsible. If you showed up on set with all your gear, and it was in your care and operation the entire time maybe then I can see their side (a little). But in reality your gear is doled out to surrounding assistants and grips of varying degrees of experience and concern to manage, set up, take apart and move around set (not even mentioning being stored or traveling in a truck driven by who and parked where?!). Usually this is where the upm will cave and get me the appropriate form. But he was just being sneaky and trying to get away with it for sport...the person you are dealing with at the school is obviously a moron when it comes to solving problems that may not fit "the norm".

Don't do it unless you can work something out with them, it'll set a bad precedent as Robert mentioned. Does the helpful moron at the school even realize that the rental house also has insurance on their gear in addition to the policy provided by the school? Did she balk at them too for being double covered?! You know you need insurance on your gear for your own transport/storage etc...

oy.

rb
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#5 Brian Freesh

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 01:40 PM

What they said.

Your insurance is for when you are liable. Their insurance is for when they are liable. Is helping out your friend worth the risk of a partial or total loss of your gear?
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#6 Alan Rencher

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 06:07 PM

I've had this happen to me on a student production before. I ended up not taking the job. In these situations, a DBA might help. I think that if they see a company name attached to your equipment, they might treat it the same as from a rental house.
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#7 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 06:55 PM

There is one other route that you can take.

  • FULL RATE Plus an additional 10%, because you are assuming the risk and for your policy being the primary Equipment Coverage Only, along with a deposit of your deductible in the form of a cashiers check.
  • You will still require them to provide you with a General Liability Coverage being that there will be cables and other obstructions all around you the other crew members are responsible for beyond your control.
  • All Actors and extras working the shot, will need to provide YOU with a Hold Harmless Agreement and Indemnifying you from any loss. Its not like you can keep them from running into you and or causing harm to you and your equipment. (GL should cover this)
  • Lastly you will need to hire your guys at their rates to make sure you have qualified guys handling your equipment, seeing that your the one at risk of exposure.

Edited by Alfeo Dixon, 17 December 2011 - 06:38 PM.

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#8 Tom Wills

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 07:13 PM

Well, I'm currently talking to 2 operators down there who have done work with the college, and have gotten COI's before. Hopefully this can all be resolved through the school. If not, I think something along the lines of Alfeo's plan may be what I end up doing. Luckily, the director and I have been friends for years, and I know she's willing to put forth whatever she needs to get me on this shoot. Just can't be too careful in these kinds of situations.
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#9 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 09:02 PM

The last time I ran into this problem I simply told them that I AM a rental house and the problem was solved. Later they asked for the name and address of my company and gave me a funny look when I told them my name and address but didn't argue. If you are renting out gear then you are a rental house, I don't see any problem with calling yourself such even if you don't have a separate business name.

-Jess
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#10 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 01:42 AM

Agreed with all the other operators on this forum. By accepting the job under their terms and providing your own insurance you will be setting an awful precedent for all other future operators who work with this school. If you research the business section, you will find much discussion on this topic. We all fight very hard for our equipment to be properly insured by productions who are constantly trying new tactics to release themselves of liability. Much harm comes to our whole industry every time an operator accepts a job under these conditions. Even on a student project where all their other rental gear is properly insured. And this affects all of us from the bottom up. Five years from now, this student producer will be managing TV shows or features and will uphold the precedents from her early career. Even on my earliest of jobs I never worked without an insurance cert and was never denied one. My advice to you is to respectfully decline this job if they do not provide a proper insurance cert. Every other operator in your circle should do the same thing. Most likely these producers and this school will respect you as a professional and do the right thing. If you throw in the towel and take the gig, you screw every operator who comes after you.

Brian adds a good point. Think of yourself if not all the rest of us. Let's say an AC moving your rig knocks it off the stand, or you take a tumble over some steps they had you climb. You're out a few grand or more in repairs and it's all on you. Even if you have your own insurance there will be a deductible and a possible raise in premium for each incident. Are you willing to take that risk for a lousy student project? Does your DP/friend understand the risk they're asking you to take?
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#11 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 02:28 AM

Guys, here is the secret to insurance.

Some background first, the reason they don't want to insure "Personal Kit" is that is usually AD's Computers, the digital cameras that Paint and Fender use, things like that. Things that are always in direct control of the owner. And that's where production get's confused. Even though we have "Personal Kit" it's not under our control on set. We have at least One but usually many AC's in our kit and that's why they have to insure it, you are not in direct control of your kit, Just like a rental house....
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#12 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 12:38 PM

great point made by eric

also, our insurance is based on a professional group rate that is mostly used as secondary coverage, our rates will increase if it starts to become primary coverage.
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