CAMPAIGN CRAFT: THE CREATIVE ISSUE; Will new guidelines spell the end of insurance wrangles?

Emma Hall gauges initial reaction to the innovative specifications in Pliatzky 2

Emma Hall gauges initial reaction to the innovative specifications in

Pliatzky 2

A high-risk process such as making commercials can’t happen unless, for

every star director and script, there’s an experienced insurance broker

and a sound insurance agreement.

Last week, after two years of investigations, an industry working party

chaired by David Lamb, a former client at Rowntree Macintosh, published

an updated handbook on commercials production procedures, known as

Pliatzky 2.

In his introduction, Lamb draws attention to the report’s ‘major

development’ - the new production and insurance briefing specification

(PIBS) which, for the first time, aims to spell out the division of

insurance responsibilities between the agency and the production company

and to ensure that insurance is discussed at the earliest stage of the

production process.

Cecilia Garnett, the chief executive of the Advertising Film and

Videotape Producers Association, sat on the working party alongside

members from her own association as well as representatives from the

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated Society

of British Advertisers.

Garnett says: ‘Insurance disputes can be very complex. The new

guidelines, which have been put together in consultation with brokers,

are designed to avoid disasters and loopholes.’

Insurance has long been a potential stumbling block, with each party

making dangerous assumptions that the other has got things covered. A

typical case came up recently when an extra was injured and both the

agency and the production company denied it was their problem.

Karen Cunningham, the managing director of the Pink Film Company, says:

‘Insurance is always a grey area. Nearly everyone has had the

experience, after a burglary or an accident, that the one thing you are

claiming for is excluded by the small print. In commercials, the

inclusion of special effects and stunts always set you thinking about

insurance, but the real troubles usually come from the less obvious


This point is illustrated perfectly by an ongoing case involving weather

insurance, which is always taken out by the agency when relevant. On one

shoot, which took place in England over a few predictably drizzly

February days, the insurance company gave the production company a

weather gauge, to measure rainfall, as part of the insurance contract.

As predicted, the crew did not get four consecutive hours of dry

daylight weather, incurring the costs of an extra day’s shooting, for

which the production company put in a claim that fell comfortably within

the insurance contract.

What no-one had bargained for, however, was a faulty rain gauge. The

team’s on-site rainfall measures tallied perfectly with Meteorological

Office records, but the insurers refused to accept responsibility and

turned down the claim. The case still has not been resolved.

To prevent such disputes from happening, many producers will take the

time to build up mutual trust and a good working relationship with their


Stonehouse Conseillers, one of the advertising industry’s leading

insurance brokers, welcomes the new recommendations that give special

consideration to artists, props and negatives.

The company’s directors, Mark Good, Tony Wall and Matt Lawford, agree:

‘The new contract is a considerable improvement, principally because it

is more explicit and places far more emphasis on the need to discuss

insurance in detail during the pre-production process. This should lead

to better cover for the client, more informed budgeting and fewer

uninsured events.’

The new guidelines may favour the agency over the production company,

particularly in the area of props which, once they have arrived on the

set, are now deemed to be the sole responsibility of the production

company. As Good points out: ‘If a car suffers mechanical failure under

the control of the manufacturer’s own mechanics, it seems unfair to

expect the production company to face the responsibility. Separate

arrangements have to be made on the PIBS.’

Good notes: ‘It has been made clear that, in the event of a shooting

delay that falls within the area of the production company’s

responsibilities, it must pay not only for its own costs but also for

any extra artist and agency costs which result. This is an area which

many production companies have previously neglected to insure.’

Lamb stresses: ‘The key to ensuring effective cover is that there should

be a proper exchange of information between the agency and the

production company. It must be quite clear where insurance cover begins

and ends.’

Jane Fuller, the executive producer at Jane Fuller Associates, speaks

for many of her peers when she says that the insurance issue is still

murky, despite the best efforts of the new report. ‘Every producer in

town is wary of the possible dangers of insurance loopholes. The water

is now a little less cloudy, but I’ll still check with my broker every


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