The Hero Car

Ever wonder how those Hollywood movies are insured? I was too for a while until the opportunity presented itself.

My client had a collection of Mustangs – Ford Mustangs. They ranged in age from 1965 to 2014. The car that he and his spouse drove every day was a Ford Mustang. Their backup car was a Ford Mustang. You get the picture. Television comercial production set.

I had placed the every day and back up vehicle onto a standard auto policy. The remainder I had placed onto an agreed value policy. My insured had very little claims, paid on time, and hardly ever called. At renewal time, we called for retention.

He had forwarded to me different photo shoots of his vehicles, magazine articles, and layouts. Not only did they win awards at car shows, but they also provided income via marketing opportunity.

Then, while answering the renewal questions, he mentioned that his backup car was a ‘hero car’. He explained what it meant and that his car had been in two films so far. Since he had signed up for a third, he wanted to make sure he was still covered.

Since he had signed up for a third, he wanted to make sure he was still covered.
First, just get rid of that ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ jumping the local pond vision you have in your head. A movie production policy is a basic general liability policy with the production, employer’s liability, automobile liability, large watercraft liability, and/or aircraft liability included. A production cannot move forward without a policy in place.

A production cannot move forward without a policy in place. From my experience, these policies are written through agencies like Film Emporium in New York. In this instance, my insured was an additional insured on the policy since they were covering his car for liability only. Also, since many productions may take place overseas, the locations, studios, and landlords are listed as additional insureds as well.

There is one caveat, these policies will exclude coverage for damage to property that should be covered under insurance specifically designed for the property, such as equipment floaters and bailee insurance.

The carrier ended up decided to remove the vehicle from the policy since the physical damage exposure was too great. In other words, no telling what the ‘hero car’ has to do to save the day.

What limits are on these types of policies since they have so much risk? According to an article in Property Casualty 360, Allianz Global Risks US provided a $25 million policy for the production of American Made starring Tom Cruise. You can read about the recent lawsuit here.

You can imagine the amount of liability a television show or a game show might have. Have any media/movie insurance experience or insurance story tell us about it below.

Leave a comment or share an experience.


12 thoughts on “The Hero Car”

  1. Great article! I have always wondered about how cars in the movies were insured. I love the movie franchise, The Fast and the Furious and I read an article, earlier this year, that the damage, done in the 7 prior (F & F) movies, was calculated at over 500 million (but that included physical {local} and building damage as well as the regular and custom car wreckage. I couldn’t imagine how much it would cost to insure those vehicles as well as how much was technical (or movie magic-created) damage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a question. My husband is interested in collecting cars. I’m trying to do a little research on extra costs that he may not be considering right now (namely, the less sexy aspect of insurance). Is there a major difference between insuring show cars versus exclusively collector cars (that you drive and enjoy in your free time) versus “souped-up cars” that you may or may not drive everyday?


    1. I love collector cars! To answer your question, that is based on the carrier’s expectations. To insure these cars you would want an agreed value policy to cover the investment you’ve made as opposed to a standard auto policy which covers the vehicle at the depreciated value. Carriers who offer agreed value policies, may allow you to drive your collector car for more than ‘just shows’ whereas some may not. So, it’s best to have a conversation with your agent and be honest about how and where you intend to take the car. That way they can place you with the right carrier for your dollar.


  3. My brother just bought a convertible (Metropolitan) Nash and has already been approached twice in Chicago from film crews. In both cases, I believe that the producers were interested in showcasing the car only and not using it for stunts and/or speed. I recommended that he read your site and articles. He hasn’t made any definitive decisions yet but I recommended that he contact his insurer if he decides to move forward and allow his car to be used.


  4. I was very delighted and surprised to see a “souped-up” Subaru being used as a hero car in the movie, Baby Driver. The car chases made for some great action sequences in the film. I have a couple of souped-up Nissans that I’ve insured but if something ever happened to either one, my insurance does not cover all of the blood, sweat, tears and cash that I’ve put into them unfortunately. I’m considering contacting some other insurers to see if I can obtain either better or more coverage. Any advice?


  5. My family has a long-time love and interest in Corvettes. They have been collected and passed down. On any given, my parents, siblings or cousins may be a car show or involved in a car club activity (of course, showcasing corvettes). For us, there is no other hero car than the almighty ‘Vette.


  6. My favorite hero car of all time is the Mini Cooper. I loved it so much in the Italian Job that I bought one for myself. I love that it’s stylish, sporty and efficient. It also doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg to insure.


  7. Being from Chicago and an 80’s kid, Ferris Bueller’s Day off made me a big fan of the the Ferrari! Oh that lovely and rare piece of machinery that sat on display in Ferris’ BFF’s home. Some years ago, I was surprised to find out that there were a few replicants created for use in the movie and the actual Ferrari was only used for a couple of select shots. I also read that there were only about 100 of those 1961 GTs ever made, which may have made it financially imprudent to insure for the film.


  8. The Dodge Challenger has always been one of the great American muscle and hero cars. The 1970’s versions ushered in a new era showcasing a national love and pride for the ever-evolving automobile. My grand-dad had one of these wonders and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly happen to this beautiful car from my youth——lots of great memories!


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