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.