20 April 2018

Production insurance and film permits

By Performance
It’s not unusual for film officers, who are issuing permits for location filming on behalf of a local council, to find themselves on the phone to a producer, who has just discovered the insurance is expired.  It’s 6pm on a Friday, the shoot is on Sunday, and panic sets in. Obviously, the permit cannot be issued without insurance.

We also sometimes have trouble with overseas film companies coming to London, unaware there’s a requirement for public liability insurance of £5 million for a permit to be issued. They have been known to try and use insurance documents stating the insurance is not valid outside their country of origin. They might try to use employee insurance or even basic travel insurance.

Some filmmakers just never seem to have much lead in time, and often permit requests are being handled a few hours before filming is due to start. It’s a relief all round that we can point productions to the link for Performance Insurance, who will issue short-term public liability insurance, online, at any time of the day or night.

A fast and responsive online insurance supplier makes it possible for them to comply with UK law. So it’s an important service. Checking a production’s insurance is a key way we help reassure and protect the residents of the local authorities we serve.

It sounds extremely straightforward and obvious – and much of the time it is. Our software FilmApp makes sure the insurance details have been stored along with all other important documents in one place – where they can be accessed and checked at a moment’s notice if need be. And from time to time, as you can imagine, they are needed for insurance claims. But prior to location permitting going online, the insurance documentation could have been sitting in a file on a desk or in a drawer in any one of multiple offices across a council – and quite difficult to locate if an officer needed to refer back to it. And through human error, it was sometimes even overlooked as a requirement for a film permit – despite the regulations.

Using an online workflow means that the permit simply will not be issued unless the insurance documents are lodged – so there is no chance of this being overlooked and permits issued without insurance.

To give you an idea of the volume these days, FilmApp, our software platform issuing film permits across two-thirds of London’s boroughs, handles around 20,000 shoots a year in the capital. Many of these applications come from production companies with long-term public liability insurance policies, renewed annually, regular as clockwork. However, a significant minority do not.

So what’s FilmApp? It’s the flagship product of our software company Apply4 Technology, and it came about in 2009, when 10 London boroughs got together to develop a common online application process for film permits. Over the years it has improved and expanded. FilmApp is in use in many major cities in the UK such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, and Bristol, as well as in the USA. Take a look at Apply4’s website www.apply4.com

And what’s FilmFixer? It’s Apply4 Technology’s sister company which handles the film office service for half of London’s boroughs as well as all of Suffolk’s seven councils in the form of Screen Suffolk. Film officers issue permits for location filming on behalf of the councils hosting the production.

Written by, Andrew Pavord, FilmFixer Ltd .