POWER BROKER: ENTERTAINMENT
Risk Strategies/De Witt Stern, New York
Eagle-Eye View on Insurance
It’s no surprise drones would eventually find their way into the
“There’s this wave of drones,” said Lindsay Vetter, senior
business affairs manager, VSA Partners Inc. “One of our
productions decided to use footage from a drone, but I didn’t have
the time to look it all over.”
Vetter turned to her trusted broker, Berj Basralian, who “researched the applications
needed for the drones so that the production could have this footage like they wanted.”
Basralian’s work to get production covered will last longer than one production, too.
“We do the same thing every year. We know what we’re doing,” said Vetter. “The vendor
changed it up and wanted to use a drone but didn’t want to invest in the coverage. Now it’s in
place because of Berj, and every year we are ready to go.”
Kristy Coleman, senior manager, risk management, Turner Broadcasting System, also
turned to Basralian when she needed aircraft coverage. In addition to cast coverage for a
popular prank show, they needed insurance to fly one of their talents in a fighter jet.
Later, they needed to insure a tank. Its purpose? To blow up a jeep.
“All of this was coming in piecemeal to the team, because production and the network
would come up with new ideas. We needed to have the right insurance, all carriers on
board, no exclusions,” Coleman said. “It was filmed during a two-day event and went off
without a hitch. Berj is always available; he never lets me down.”
Area Managing Director
Gallagher, Glendale, Calif.
Covering Every Angle
Michelle Nishikawa, director, physical production, STX
Entertainment, describes Konrad Dowling as a workhorse.
“I’m not sure when he takes a break. He has such an attention
for details — we probably talk at least twice a day. I can see that he
doesn’t ever want to leave me in the lurch.”
STX was filming abroad. The director and producer wanted to use
a helicopter to scout for the next day’s shoots but needed the insurance coverage to do so.
“Generally, you want a week to 10 days to plan something like that, but unfortunately the
call came in quickly,” Nishikawa said. She contacted Dowling, and it was handled in no time.
Another client said Dowling anticipates every question before they’re even asked. He’s
always reviewing forms to see where his clients might be exposed. For example, the client
was deep into a production that had been in the works for a few years. It was filming abroad,
and it required reshoots and extra takes after initial production wrapped.
Dowling sat with the team and discussed where they were vulnerable during their long
shoot. He negotiated with insurers for the extra months of production at nearly a fraction of
what it normally costs.
But that wasn’t all; his client said he was on top of everything. This particular project
required animals sourced from France, housed in the U.S., then sent on location for filming.
Dowling negotiated contracts for each country’s market and kept the animals properly cared
for throughout the duration of filming.
Rebecca Hollis, ARM, CPCU
Every Game Day’s MVP
Rebecca Hollis is in tune with the markets, according to her clients.
One client recently decided to engage with brand new
markets, trusting in the value that Hollis brings to the company.
Hollis orchestrated all meetings, talked on behalf of the company,
researched each market to see they met the company’s needs
and gave detailed insight on how the markets were different.
Hollis excels in paying attention, said the client. She knows the company’s program
down to the last endorsement.
Christine Procops, senior vice president and CFO, the New York Football Giants, echoed
that praise in Hollis’s attention to detail.
“She’s my go-to for all things insurance. The business is constantly evolving, and our
insurance requirements and the complexity of our program have grown over recent years.”
Procops said Hollis comes through in the clutch at renewal every year. She praises
Hollis as reliable and committed.
“I’m the CFO of our team, so I am not dealing with insurance every day. Rebecca helps to
keep the Giants educated on the market and new issues that may impact us, not to mention
the difficult task of keeping me on track with renewals,” she said.
Procops said a 24/7 approach makes Hollis stand out: “We don’t have normal business
hours. Rebecca understands our business and how we run. How many other vendors give
out their cell phone numbers and then pick up when you call them on vacation?”
Senior Vice President
Aon, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
No Task Too Big or Too Small
No matter the scale of a task, Lorrie McNaught’s clients know
she’ll get the job done.
One client said McNaught isn’t fazed by the volume, type or
scale of a production — she’s always prepared for the task at hand.
“I can count on her as a resource,” added Margaret Morales,
director of production management, Bunim Murray Productions.
Morales had an overseas production that added a last-minute stunt. She needed a
48-hour turnaround for permissions and insurance coverage. After speaking with the
underwriters, McNaught had everything ready to go, said Morales.
Another client of McNaught’s works with a variety of reality shows. They have covered
everything from wildlife to home life. With such a broad array of topics, McNaught is
always on call.
When the company had to film on location for one of its reality shows, they sent an
indemnification form to McNaught to double-check if they had broad-form property
damage coverage in their policy. Shooting couldn’t begin without an answer. McNaught
responded within 20 minutes, a company executive said.
The client said that it’s times like this, when McNaught can get back to them on-the-spot
with an answer, that show how hard-working and knowledgeable she is.
Sometimes it’s big, and sometimes it’s small scale, the client said. To them, McNaught
is a true insurance professional.
Daniel R’bibo, ARM
Area Senior Vice President
Gallagher, Glendale, Calif.
Weathering Any Storm
Kelly Todd, line producer, Dumplin Holdings Inc., said Gallagher’s
Daniel R’bibo is always available, day or night.
Todd’s company was filming in Georgia when Hurricane Irma
hit. Because R’bibo understood the production side, Todd knew
R’bibo would be a reliable source for her insurance-related
questions while preparing for the storm.
“After Hurricane Irma, Daniel visited set. He advised us that the best rule of thumb was
to mitigate any claims that we could have,” she said.
When the company was closing the bond for production, R’bibo put many documents
together quickly in order to close out the production process on time, Todd said. He helped
identify what was covered and advised them on how to proceed post-claim in order to
mitigate any extra expenses.
Another client described R’bibo as a go-getter.
The client was working on a back-to-back filming project with a huge budget. Due to the
size, the production needed more aggressive limits for the films’ unique exposures.
Additionally, the actors involved in the production wanted to work on other projects
during filming, which brought outside production companies into the coverage mix.
R’bibo worked to ensure that no special exclusions were placed on the actors while
they worked on other projects, and the client said R’bibo checked off everything on his list;
filming went ahead as scheduled.
Resident Managing Director
Aon, New York
One Step Ahead
Knowing how to head off potential risk is just one way Aon’s
George Walden demonstrates his expertise.
“A lot of money is spent on creating new content,” said
Gregory L. Goetz, VP risk management, insurance, enterprise risk
management, Scripps Networks Interactive. The entertainment
industry assumes risk developing new content ideas and a variety
of exposures can arise while content is being produced.
“As people in this industry know, a variety of risk events can occur during content
production, which can affect the ultimate profitability of that content.”
Walden and Goetz have regular discussions to prepare for any such events. Together,
they designed various methods to transfer risk to insurance carriers or arrange other
alternative funding methods.
Another client said Walden has grown with the times and keeps them current on certain
coverages like cyber security and transmission.
Walden was described as an extremely responsive and educated broker by a third
client. She saw him as an advocate — someone who thinks about the company from her
perspective — and an advisor — someone who can be objective when a situation calls for it.
“George is very demanding of his team and customer service is a very high priority,” said
Goetz. Walden works to have a fast turnaround and strives to present helpful information,