ASK THE EXPERTS: COVERAGE UNDER COVID [WEBINAR RECORDING]
This webinar offers legal and insurance insights directly from experts who specialize in providing these services to the entertainment industry. Get detailed information about what’s changed since the global pandemic. Learn how to protect yourself as both employer and employee.
CONTACT THE SPEAKERS
Justine Avera, ABI Insurance
Christie Totten, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Chris Weathers, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Bob Wyman, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
QUESTIONS FROM ATTENDEES
Answers provided by Justine Avera, ABI Insurance
What new insurance do I need during COVID?
Nothing new, but you might want to think about the potential advantages and disadvantages of employees vs. independent contractors, the potential protections under workers compensation, and if you have workers compensation, maybe buying an umbrella to increase protection limits for payments of claims. Individuals who may have lost their employers health insurance should apply immediately for any state or federal medical insurance and see if they can get coverage.
I want to understand what additional coverage may be necessary and what additional documents for crew/cast to sign might be recommended.
From a risk management standpoint I would like to see a separate document with the set rules and expectations on paper, checklists, protocols, and a place where the worker signs that they have read and understood and will comply with all new protocols and consistently wearing PPE. From the employers side I would like to see a hazard warning to all that though you are taking “reasonable care” and precautions per the CDC and OSHA guidelines, you cannot guarantee that the set will be germ free, and you cannot guarantee that you will not become exposed or infected. Work with the attorneys on this for appropriate legal wording and messaging.
How will COVID continue to change the landscape of traditional production insurance and bonds for the foreseeable future? How can production move forward without an underwriter?
This is addressed more in detail on one of the slides. Coverage for Covid is now not available or very limited and will remain so for the next foreseeable future, or until the Pandemic Response Insurance Act gets put into place. Covid is now more of a pure business risk, and not an insurable one.
I'd love to know more about workers comp and whether COVID would be covered if contracted while on production.
See Case Study slide on 3 states and how they are approaching. Contact Justine to talk in more detail.
I'm very keen to know how Covid-19 transmission risks in the media production workplace will impact insurance coverage options, any requirements for the policy to be bonded, and the associated costs. To that end: what criteria will insurers require producers to meet before, during, and after a shoot?
Insurance companies are now requesting a sample copy of your professional services agreements, independent contractor agreements, cast & crew contracts including any waivers warnings or disclaimers, copies of specific Covid prevention measures, identify individuals who will be in charge of compliance.
I want to understand how insurance coverage for Covid-19 will affect production budgets.
Some insurance coverage charges will not change, because there was either no coverage before, or the insurance companies have now added exclusions. Equipment/gear insurance has not changed. Some companies may decide to increase minimum premiums per policy. General Liability for the most part has not changed. Workers compensation rates are anticipated to go up, Cast & Crew coverage will go up if they decide to offer any Covid coverage, health insurance premiums will go up. Completion bonds will be tough, carriers are adding exclusions there too. I would use a 10-15% increase as a starting factor, we will know more as we start quoting more productions of different sizes.
Can a production get insurance against covid related something? I think there's a misunderstanding in our community about what production insurance covers. (They might be thinking about completion insurance, but most films in OR / WA are too small to warrant this, typically)
Most of the Covid related coverage that might have been there before is now gone. Even the completion bonds are changing terms in their Force Majeure clauses. There may still be reimbursement for medical expenses available through workers compensation, employers liability, and perhaps one company might be offering very low limits under Cast & Crew coverage, but most companies are no longer offering Cast & Crew.
Crew is paranoid that they will be asked to sign waivers prohibiting them from holding a production accountable if production conditions make them sick. As a producer, I have been thinking of not requesting waivers and knowing that I can point to practices and disclosures, and chain of command for reporting unsafe practices (both physical health and all other unsafe things we always address), to shield the production from being "at fault" for someone coming down with the virus. Could you address the business risk to a production who chooses to not ask employees to sign this waiver?
From a risk management standpoint I would like to see a separate document with the set rules and expectations on paper, checklists, protocols, and a place where the worker signs that they have read and understood and will comply with all new protocols and consistently wearing PPE. From the employers side I would like to see a hazard warning to all that though you are taking “reasonable care” and precautions per the CDC and OSHA guidelines, you cannot guarantee that the set will be germ free, and you cannot guarantee that you will not become exposed or infected. Work with the attorneys on this for appropriate legal wording and messaging. Without the waiver, this is now pure business risk, and you could be exposing yourself personally and your company to multimillion dollar lawsuits.
Am I over-covered with barely any work?
Call your agent or insurance broker to see if there is any way to pull back on un-needed coverages, or rewrite you with another carrier if you do not anticipate certain types of jobs materializing until 2021 for instance. I can also offer comparison quotes.
What are the liability issues for producers during the pandemic?
I think the best slide to answer this is the Claims slide where I list out all the potential avenues for liability lawsuits, and the Workers Compensation and Case Study slides. Happy to discuss concerns that may be applicable to your specific company operations.