Kevin O'Shea

Job title:
Insurance Broker
Film | TV

What does your job involve?

I'm an insurance broker specialising in the film and television business. All films need insurance - a huge amount of money is spent making them, so if something goes wrong the financiers need to know they are covered.

For independent features, we provide a very broad service advising on all the insurances that are required while making the film. We're probably involved in 60-70% of all independent films shot in the UK and 95% of US studio film made outside of the USA.

For independent films, our first involvement starts when someone is budgeting the film. We'll talk about what kind of film they are intending to make and we will give them a rough indication of the insurance cost.

We'll also flag up potential problems. For example, the producers may want to film in a difficult foreign country which will make the picture hard to insure. Or the film may be based on true-life characters, so special insurance might be needed just in case they are not happy with the way they've been represented.

After this initial process, things tend to go quiet. Then, if the project gets the greenlight, we will sit down and identify exactly what insurance is required, talk to insurance companies and secure insurance for the film.

We'll get involved in casting issues. The principal cast will need to be insured because if one falls ill, the whole production can suffer.

There are other areas that require special insurance such as the use of animals, aircraft, boats etc or stunt or special effects activity and this can be very expensive in the event of a claim.

The range of what we do and the type of insurance we provide is broad and complex. Some projects, like a Bond film or a film with a lot of activity, have a higher risk while others are not so risky. We have to cover almost every type of insurance. The skill is to identify what is required, which is often something that the producers might not have even considered.

When shooting starts, we'll deal with day-to-day production issues. A lot of time is spent on reviewing contracts, trying to limit the exposure of a production. If something goes wrong on a location, for example, we'll try in advance to make sure the full onus doesn't fall entirely on the production. We'll also try to buy additional insurance cover as required throughout the production period to cover other risks as they arise.

The work continues in post production. We'll make sure that issues such as damage to a negative or tape which might cause a costly re-shoot are all included in the package of cover we recommend.

In terms of a working day, we could have between 25-30 films on the go at one time.

How did you get into the business?

My father alerted me to an opening at an insurance broker, which by chance specialised in films. My interest developed from there.

What advice would you give for someone wanting to get into the business?

We tend to find that people join us from a non-insurance background and then we train them up from a technical point of view. This does not mean that you can't come from an insurance background - you need to be interested in films or television. 

One of the drawbacks of this business is that it is not 9-5. We have to be available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Sometimes the work just does not allow you to work regular hours as you are on call during filming. So it's not to be recommended for someone who likes an ordered life.

But it's a very interesting job and you meet interesting people all the time. I still get great pleasure from reading a script and seeing this become a film at the cinema


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