Sedgwick's Nick Adams examines the need for adverse weather cover in film and TV productions
The Bourne Identity begins with actor Matt Damon's character discovered by fishermen in the sea off the coast of Italy. The sequence is dark, gripping and frames the narrative for the rest of film. But the scene in question was also compelling from a claims perspective.
As evidenced in the film, the weather conditions were bad. So bad, in fact, that the film crew could not get out to the location and under general film production insurance policies, adverse weather is not covered.
However, the production company acted quickly and managed to produce an official document from the harbourmaster stating that no ships would be allowed to leave the harbour. As the film crew indicated, they were ready and willing to go out but were denied access to the location. As a result, the claim was shifted from adverse weather to one covering the interruption of filming. The claim was successful and paid out as an extra expense claim.
The crew were eventually allowed to leave the shore and managed to get the footage they needed in more clement weather, with insurers effectively paying for the cost of the extra day.
It is a good example of how creative, lateral thinking can save the cost of an expensive reshoot. However, for many productions, particularly commercial ones that have a tight filming schedule, adverse weather is becoming a crucial element in their liability package.
For commercial shoots, losing one day in a three-day shoot (with a set delivery date in place) becomes very costly very quickly, and having adverse weather cover in place can be critical. The conditions for adverse weather cover stipulate that you need to take the policy out well before filming commences -- between a fortnight and a month in advance.
Adverse weather policies tend to be split into three sections.
First, there is sunshine, which is by far the most expensive policy and is only purchased when filming requires perfect conditions, namely blue skies and sunshine. Second, there is 'reasonable photographic conditions', which hinges on whether the cameraman can get sufficient light to record the scene given the film stock or recording media they are using. The last one is precipitation, which covers any interruption to filming due to precipitation, such as rain, snow or fog.
Adverse weather insurance is undeniably costly; typically, the rates vary between 11% for precipitation in the summer to 35% for reasonable photographic conditions in London during Autumn. However, some insurers have been known to offer a part return of the premium in the event of no claim, in order to offset the price of the policy.
With an increase in the prevalence of adverse weather conditions, insurers now believe they are going to have to pay out on more of these claims. And with commercial shoots costing upwards of £200,000 per day, ensuring that the losses associated with poor weather are recoverable means that these policies will continue to be as important as ever.
Nick Adams is director and specialist loss adjuster of Sedgwick Media & Entertainment Services