The mayor of Greater Sudbury, Ontario, is asking the insurance sector to provide coverage for the film and television industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Brian Bigger said that as most of Ontario has moved on to Stage 3 of reopening the economy, about five production projects are waiting to film in Greater Sudbury.
“Those projects represent about $42 million for our economy and about 305 jobs,” Bigger explained. “In addition to those projects, a further 16 productions are in development and they represent a further $78 million and about 875 jobs.”
However, those productions cannot start unless they secure proper insurance. According to Bigger, insurance companies are not issuing policies during an ongoing global health crisis.
Cultural Industries Ontario North film programs and reporting supervisor Rob Riselli told CBC News that productions attempting to secure insurance could run into problems, especially when the policies are not covering shutdowns due to COVID-19.
“So if someone were to contract COVID-19 and you had to shut down the set, there’s not coverage for protection for the set,” said Riselli.
“You’re talking about a minimum of 14 days of having a set shut down, where does that come out of? Productions are hesitant to go ahead without that insurance.”
While insurance companies are hesitating to provide film production coverage, they might still support their clients by way of risk management.
In a previous statement to Insurance Business Canada, Front Row Insurance Brokers executive vice-president Damian Schleifer said that it would be unlikely for insurers to offer disease coverage for film productions in the near future, with some companies even going as far as adding “very broad” communicable disease exclusions that apply to any pandemic, not just COVID-19.
“There are different industry groups that are lobbying government and trying to find some creative ways to address the exposure in the absence of insurance,” said Schleifer. “But right now, it’s such an unknown and it’s difficult for an insurance company to properly assess what the exposure is.”
With film production coverage for viral outbreaks an uncertainty, Schleifer said that his company has instead shifted its focus towards risk management – helping clients manage their infectious disease risk and finding ways to limit their exposure to viral threats.