Primary vs. Secondary Film Insurance: Navigating the Safety Net

Primary vs. Secondary Film Insurance: Navigating the Safety Net

Primary vs. Secondary Film Insurance: Navigating the Safety Net

In the high-wire world of filmmaking, where budgets fly and risks dance in the spotlight, insurance is your safety net. But it’s not one big, homogenous sheet. In fact, you often have two layers of protection: primary and secondary film insurance.

So, what’s the difference?

Primary film insurance stands as the frontline defense for your production. It’s typically purchased by the producer and covers a wide range of potential perils, including:

  • Cast and crew: Injuries, illnesses, or even death of key personnel.
  • Equipment: Loss, damage, or theft of cameras, lights, and other gear.
  • Sets and locations: Physical damage to shooting locations or constructed sets.
  • Property: Damage to third-party property caused by the production.
  • Legal liability: Protection against lawsuits arising from accidents or other mishaps.

Think of primary insurance as the first responder, rushing in to tackle the immediate fire.

Secondary film insurance, on the other hand, acts as a backup, kicking in in specific situations where your primary policy:

  • Has exclusions: Certain risks might be specifically excluded from your primary coverage, leaving you exposed.
  • Runs out of coverage: If the cost of a claim exceeds your primary policy’s limits, secondary insurance bridges the gap.
  • Requires excess coverage: Some situations, like high-risk stunts or filming in dangerous locations, might require additional, temporary “excess” coverage beyond your primary policy. This excess coverage can then be backed up by secondary insurance.

Think of secondary insurance as the cavalry riding in, armed with reinforcements just when you need them most.

Here’s an analogy: Imagine your production as a castle under siege. Primary insurance is your moat and walls, defending against most attacks. But what if a dragon breaches the defenses, causing massive damage? That’s where secondary insurance comes in – a hidden fortress within the castle walls, offering an extra layer of protection when things get truly fiery.


  • Not all productions need secondary insurance. The decision depends on the specific risks, budget, and individual needs of your film.
  • Consult with a film insurance specialist to understand your coverage options and determine the right combination of primary and secondary insurance for your project.

Navigating the intricate world of film insurance can be daunting, but understanding the distinction between primary and secondary coverage is a crucial step toward securing your production and making your cinematic dreams a reality.