Stuntmen

Avoiding serious accidents on set is not always easy. High speed car chases and wrestling with crocodiles.  Fighting through a forest of flames may sound like your typical 007 movie. However for a cast of stuntmen, it is all in a day’s work.

Prepared for the most outrageous tasks, avoiding serious accidents on set is not always easy. During the filming of “Quantum of Solace”, a series of three separate incidents left three stuntmen badly injured.

Ari Comninos suffered serious head injuries when the Alfa Romeo he was driving in a chase scene ploughed into a truck. During another stunt, British engineer Fraser Dunn was at the wheel of an Aston Martin.   It skidded off the road.  Thereafter it plunged into icy waters, at high speed.  Hours later another stuntman was injured in a separate car chase.

As a result of these series of unfortunate incidents, Daniel Craig who plays action hero James Bond has reportedly insured his body for £5m. Not all insurers would want to cover stuntmen because when things go wrong, they usually go wrong badly.

Insurers want to see storyboards. In addition scripts, a full risk assessment and the stuntman’s CV.

Employer’s Liability insurance covers the producers for compensation damages to stuntmen in the event of an accident.  The legal limit for damages is £5m as standard but is often provided at £10m by most insurers. This would also normally cover any legal defence costs incurred by the producers in relation to any legal proceedings by the injured party.

On small productions general hazardous activities are excluded; this is because not all insurers are happy to provide cover for the likes of underwater work, free-jumping, pyrotechnics that are likely to be seen in a James Bond style film for a small premium. When stunts such as these are included in a script, premiums begin to increase significantly.

During an interview while at the German premiere of “Terminator”, “Collider Movie Talk” got an interview with David Ellison, the CEO of Skydance Productions. They got to talking about the famous Burj Khalifa stunt from “Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol”. In the scene Tom Cruise hangs off of the tallest building in the world. While many actors would happily hand that sort of work over to a well-paid stuntman, Cruise is known for doing many of his own stunts and he wanted to do this one.

The insurance company, however, was far less interested in the idea. Cruise was so committed to doing the stunt himself that he told the production team to go and find a new insurance company who would still insure the film with the scene intact. The production team did exactly that.

As the film and entertainment industry often involves risky moments, movie producers or other employers such as theme parks will provide liability insurance for stunt artists. Production companies often get to pay lower premiums if they have highly skilled stunt artists. This means that the higher you are skilled, the more easily you will find a job and insurance coverage.

Some insurance companies provide special stunt coverage packages for film productions. The insurance company provides quotes per stunts performed during film shoots. Eligible declared stunts, precision driving scenes and animal stunts can sometimes be purchased as a buyback to existing stunt exclusions.

Many stunt artists buy supplemental policies to obtain extra coverage. This insurance could exclude extra health, death or permanent disability benefits.

 

 

Pandemic

In the spring of 2006, government officials and scientists in rubber boots and full body protective suits identified a pandemic. They were looking at the remains of dead swans, dead birds and lifeless fowl.  Furthermore there was the emergency slaughter of entire flocks at chicken farms.

Bird flu had moved into public consciousness.  there was concern that the HSN1 “avian plague” virus might mutate into a form that would threaten human life. Then came the all – clear signal. The crisis disappeared as quickly as it had come. The virus passed out of sight and the pandemic did not occur. Yet.

One year later the much-feared bird flu virus reappeared, this time with much less resonance in the media. The question is not whether there will be a pandemic, but rather when.

Indiana has trained 300 prisoners to kill infected chickens and banned bird shows at county fairs. Mississippi is considering road barricades and planning bio security measures. Iowa is trying to figure out how to deal with a mountain of dead and reeking chickens.

There were fears that the virus which has led to the death of nearly 45 million birds in 16 states and Canada, could come roaring back this fall.  That is when temperatures cool.   Agriculture officials across the U. S. are preparing for the worst.

In Iowa, one of the largest U. S. egg processors has started to buy foreign supplies for the first time. Elsewhere in the Midwest, a free range egg producer says it may build automatic car washes to scour vehicles accessing its 60 farms. And nationally, agricultural workers are being urged to get flu shots.

Poultry farmers that incurred losses earlier this year remain rattled because no one knows for sure how the disease is spread. It could be spread through the air.Furthermore found in feed grain or in contact with equipment and people. The next outbreak could exceed the 211 farms affected last spring. The government is preparing to deploy enough resources to handle more than 500 infected flocks.

Rembrandt, the third largest U. S. producer of table eggs, lost about 8 million laying hens to bird flu in May.   It says it will take until 2017 to rebuild its flock. In the event of another outbreak, the company plans to draw on a supply chain built up over the past five months. This includes farms in Spain and Italy.

The outbreak also reduced turkey flocks, sending the price of the meat to a record high. It led to a plunge in U. S. poultry exports. Sales of eggs to overseas buyers tumbled in July to an 11-year low, government data showed.

Already the federal government has spent more than $950 million on bird flu, mostly to dispose of infected birds and to compensate affected farmers.

In view of the genetic instability of influenza viruses, it is only a matter of time before a mutation occurs that is transmissable from human to human. Recent dramatic scenarios include the Spanish flu (1918-1920), the Asian flu (1957), and the Hong Kong flu (1968).  Then influenza claimed millions of lives all over the world. In addition to the human tragedy, such events bring huge financial costs to bear.

Based on its experience with the epidemic respiratory illness SARS in 2003, the World Bank estimates global costs of approximately $800 billion in the event of a pandemic. From a risk perspective, pandemics are classic catastrophe scenarios. They are similar to earthquakes and tornadoes. The consequences of a pandemic could be very serious because of the associated restrictions on public and economic life.

The insurance industry needs to focus its attention not only on the impacts in the areas of life, property and health insurance, but also on financial markets.

Private insurers say it is almost impossible to write policies covering bird flu losses as long as the risk of another outbreak remains high. Palomar Insurance in Atlanta, which tailors risk management policies to the needs of specific industries, is studying how to pool bird flu risks with other hazards, but it has not generated much interest from underwriters.