Insurance for shoots the exception, not norm

In Kollywood, an industry that churns out over 200 films a year, not all movies have insurance cover. Even now, producers making small and mid-budget films consider insurance a burden. Only the big players in the Tamil film industry ensure that insurance papers are in order before commencing shooting.

On Wednesday, a major accident happened on the sets of Indian 2, an upcoming action thriller directed by S. Shankar and starring actor Kamal Haasan. Luckily, the film was insured. “The film has been completely insured,” a top official from the company told The Hindu. But this is more of an exception than the norm, say members of the film fraternity. Not all producers bother to take insurance for their projects, and even if they do, it only covers equipment and stars.

“The insurance penetration has been low in the Tamil film industry when compared to Bollywood. There is need for more coverage for the crew. In case of an accident, the liability will on the production house, so having extra coverage helps,” Shreeraj Deshpande, Chief Operating Officer, Future Generali India Insurance, said.

The firm has sold over 190 policies under Future Cine Suraksha for movies including Baahubali 2, Don 2, Singham Returns, Rock On and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

Sumant Salian, Business Head, Alliance Insurance Brokers Pvt. Ltd., said, “We have seen a few production houses consider insurance in the Tamil industry. A lot of them are either not aware or do not give importance to insuring their projects. In Bollywood, 15 years ago, producers began going for insurance at the insistence of the banking or financing partner. Now it is an integral part of every film.”

Insurance coverage

Film insurance refers to insuring the film against unforeseen incidents like death, illness of an actor, occurrence of natural calamities or accidental damage leading to delays in schedule. Insurance helps the producer mitigate his risk while making the film.

Four producers, on condition of anonymity, agreed that insurance penetration is quite low in the Tamil film industry when compared to Bollywood and other markets. Some of them even suggested that no shooting should be allowed henceforth without insurance in place.

S.R. Prabhu, who has made several movies under his banner Dream Warrior Pictures, said that today most financiers insist on insurance.

Noting that all his films are insured, he said, “In the past whenever there was a death or any other crisis people in the film industry have immediately come forward to help even before the insurance company comes in. A few actors in the past have even come forward to pay premium amounts for certain unions in the film industry,” he said.

There also needs to be an emphasis on making the sets and working conditions for all technicians safer.

Director Madhumita recalled from her time as a filmmaker in Los Angeles about how shooting wouldn't begin for the day unless all the wires from the different equipment were taped down on the floor so people working on the set would not trip. “This is a simple but an extremely important safety precaution that is followed even on the sets of a short film. Following such safety precautions just needs some extra time which we need to invest,” she said.

Insurance experts said more focus should be given to insurance and ensuring the safety of each and every crew member involved.

(With inputs from Sangeetha Kandavel, S. Poorvaja and Sanjay Vijayakumar)

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 3:22:17 PM |

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