Skip to content
Talk to Sales

    Expert Guidance On How Production Accountants Can Submit Accurate Insurance Claims

    In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need insurance. 

    But film and TV productions don’t take place in a perfect world — as production accountants know all too well. Productions are constantly impacted by events, both big and small, that require swift action and accurate paperwork. 

    Common examples include

    • Damaged, lost, or stolen equipment
    • Cast or crew injuries 
    • Damage to property or landscapes
    • Unexpected production delays (weather, illness, etc.)  
    • Third-party claims

    To help prepare you for your next claim, we spoke with insurance experts including a studio Insurance Claim Auditor and a Worker’s Compensation Claims Specialist to talk through how to help you craft flawless insurance claims, and keep your production running smoothly. 

    1. Start with essential information

    An insurance claim is a formal request to an insurance provider asking for compensation to cover a loss or damage that is covered by an insurance policy. The claim is accompanied by documentation and evidence that supports the request. 

    When pulling together a claim, make sure you start with essential information. Consider, for example, the type of insurance policy or provision you’re making a request under. 

    Production insurance often includes: 

    • General liability. This is the blanket policy that covers accidents or impacts during the production. The policy often includes a number of provisions that apply under specific circumstances, such as cast injury or a third-party lawsuit. 
    • Workers’ compensation. This coverage protects the production when an employee is injured during the course of work. Workers’ compensation may be included as part of the production insurance package alongside the general liability policy, but is more often a separate policy through a payroll company. Workers’ compensation coverage is mandated by law in most states.
    • Contingent WC policy. The Contingent Policy is needed for projects that provide their primary (i.e. principal) WC coverage for employees (cast and crew) by paying them through an employer of record (EOR) payroll company (employees are paid under the EOR company’s Federal ID # with WC coverage provided under the EOR’s WC policy). This additional contingent policy, often included as part of their production insurance package alongside the general liability policy, covers independent or other contractors who work on the production and are paid directly by accounting. Since they’re not considered “employees” of the production company, this is separate coverage for contractors that don’t already have their own WC policy in place. 
    • Waiver of subrogation. This endorsement provision, when in place, limits the insurance company’s ability to sue a third party to recover damages incurred from a claim where fault can be proven for another party. Insurance companies are often reluctant to agree to a waiver of subrogation for short-term insurance contracts as it means the risk is placed on each party’s insurers, not on each other. 

    In addition to the type of insurance in play, it’s helpful to review the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. A certificate of insurance provides key information outlining what type of insurance is provided as coverage as well as who the underlying insurer is. 

    2. Gather details and documents for your claim

    Every claim requires supporting information. 

    Before issuing compensation, the insurance company needs to be satisfied that (1) the event falls under the terms of your policy, and (2) the amount of compensation accurately reflects the damage to the production. 

    Details and documents

    To support your claim, it’s important to gather details and documents. The type of information will differ depending on the nature of the claim, but here are common documents to include in your paperwork: 

    • Claim form. Most insurance providers have a standard form and process for submitting a claim. This form simplifies the process of sharing key details with the insurer. 
    • Incident report. This document provides important information about an incident, including the date, time, location, and a description of what happened. The incident report may also include witness and crew member statements. 
    • Police or fire report. In the case of an emergency, officials will issue a formal report. This documentation explains why police or firefighters were called to the scene and what action they took.
    • Medical report. Where the claim involves an injury, medical reports and billing information are essential documents to include. 
    • Photographs and videos. Visual evidence shows the extent of any damage and can help support the claim. 
    • Invoices and receipts. These documents provide evidence for the expenses associated with damage or loss. Costs include replacement, repairs, and other related expenses. 
    • Production schedules. This document shows the planned timeline of the production, and supports a claim of delays due to the insured event. You need the production schedule from before the insurable event, and you need the one directly after the event.

    Storage and organization

    When gathering documentation, it’s important to stay organized. 

    Production accounting software, like Greenslate, makes the insurance claim process much easier. Accountants can store important documents in their accounting software, helping them stay organized amidst large numbers of production details. 

    Then, when it’s time to share claim information with the insurance company, they can securely send documents without needing to access a separate system. Additionally, they can pull payroll and timekeeping reports directly from their system of record. 

    These tools ensure an efficient process and save the accounting team hours during the insurance claim process. 

    3. Submit a comprehensive claim

    Comprehensive” is the keyword here. 

    According to insurance claim experts, the most common mistake accounting teams make is submitting an incomplete or unsupported claim. When key details are missing, the resulting back-and-forth can cost the production valuable time and additional costs. 

    For example, the hourly billing costs for legal and accounting professionals often undercut the production budget. If the team needs to revisit a claim to fill in missing information, the resulting bill can add up to thousands of dollars — even for a minor claim. 

    To avoid slowdowns and unnecessary costs, make sure you’ve taken the following steps: 

    • Step 1: Gather documents and itemize all relevant information (costs, timelines, etc.).
    • Step 2: Organize your documents in an easy-to-understand format. 
    • Step 3: Make sure you understand claim timelines and have all the necessary paperwork. 
    • Step 4: Consider using accounting software to organize and share sensitive information. 

    Additionally, it can be helpful to consult with your insurance broker. A seasoned broker can help you navigate the claims process and provide helpful tips on communicating with the insurance company.

    4. Prepare for the audit process

    “There are very few audits or claims that make it through on first pass.” When we connected with an experienced claims auditor, this is what she had to say.  

    The reality of today’s insurance market is clear. You’re almost certain to face an audit from the insurance company. To simplify your path to compensation, it’s helpful to prepare for the audit process before the auditor comes knocking on your door. 

    Key players

    First, recognize the role of key players representing the insurance company’s interests. 

    Before issuing the policy, insurance companies employ an underwriter to assess the risks associated with the production and the insurance policy. The underwriter evaluates the likelihood of a claim being made and how much it would cost the insurance company. 

    Then, once a claim is submitted, insurance companies bring in an auditor to review the claim information, financial records, and regulations. The auditor is responsible for making sure the stated losses are legitimate and properly documented. 

    The audit process

    Second, know the broad strokes of the audit process so you can prepare. 

    Once the insurance company is notified of the claim, they perform an initial review of the documents and prepare the audit process. From there, the audit team is brought in. 

    The audit team takes a closer look at the documentation, noting any questions, concerns, or areas where further information is needed. Next, the team takes steps to close any gaps. 

    This part of the process may include

    • Site inspection
    • Interviews
    • Financial analysis
    • Compliance checks

    Once completed, the audit team produces a detailed report of their findings. Using these findings, the insurance company may resolve and close the claim, adjust the claim, or deny it outright. Negotiations and legal consultations may follow.

    Accounting’s role

    Ultimately, it’s the role of the accountant to help facilitate and speed up this process. 

    Here are a few ways you can do that

    • Submit comprehensive documents upfront
    • Create open communication channels
    • Use technology effectively
      • Example: By doing insurance claim tagging in the dedicated insurance field in your production accounting and payroll software, and defining the insurance code and making sure all identified costs have that coding.
    • Coordinate with other departments
    • Respond promptly

    Need to tackle your next insurance claim?

    Make sure you’re ready. Tackle production challenges with a sophisticated approach, managing insurance requirements and securing compensation. 

    Here’s how:

    1. Start with essential information
    2. Gather details and documents for your claim
    3. Submit a comprehensive claim
    4. Prepare for the audit process

    With this step-by-step approach, you can save yourself countless hours and eliminate unnecessary administrative costs. 

    ✅ Connect with GreenSlate for a demo to learn more about our innovative all-in-one production payroll solution.

    **The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, insurance or financial advice.

    Topics: Insurance
    background triangle design

    Related Posts

    Access our blog for the inside scoop on what’s happening around the production office.