2/27/08

Hollywood can insure against another strike

Citing the risk of a SAG strike in July, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. has introduced strike expense coverage for producers of films due to be completed in mid-June. Fireman's Fund, which annually provides about $170 million in film production premiums, said the coverage extension is the first offered by an entertainment insurance firm. The SAG-AFTRA contract covering film and primetime TV expires on June 30, and no talks have been set.

"We want to address production companies' concerns and provide them with additional support during this time of uncertainty," said VP Joe Finnegan in a statement. "We believe this coverage extension will help facilitate the financing and production of more film projects that are scheduled to wrap principal photography ahead of a possible strike or lockout."

Fireman's Fund announced the coverage on Tuesday, with the WGA set to announce results of its contract ratification vote in the wake of a bitter 100-day writers strike.

Move comes with the town worried over an actors strike this summer. High-profile members have been pressuring SAG to launch talks and to limit voting on the contract to thesps who have worked at least a specified number of days over the last six years.

SAG had no immediate reaction to the announcement. The WGA deal lessened the possibility of a SAG strike, but its leaders have said that SAG must maintain a strike threat in order to get the best possible deal, asserting that without that leverage, collective bargaining becomes "collective begging."

Fireman's Fund rep Susan Murdy said the coverage requires that a completion bond be in place prior to issuance of coverage and that production be scheduled for completion prior to June 15. She also said the coverage is aimed at claims involving circumstances that would push production into the strike period, such as an actor getting sick or injured or fire damage on a set.

Murdy said Fireman's Fund, which acts as a wholesaler, would offer the coverage only to companies that already do business with Fireman's Fund. She added that Fireman's Fund covers about 75% of productions.

Fireman's Fund also owns Intl. Film Guarantors, which has written over $9.25 billion in completion guarantees for more than 470 movies since 1990.

(variety.com)

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