The producers of Ben Affleck’s upcoming “Hypnotic” filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing their insurance company of refusing to extend their policy to account for the pandemic.
The cause is among the first, if not the first, to see if film insurers will be forced to cope with the delays caused by COVID-19. The lawsuit argues that the insurer’s refusal could kill the project.
“Hypnotic” – an action movie starring Affleck and directed by Robert Rodriguez – would go into production in April, according to the complaint. But the project, supported by Solstice Studios and Studio 8, was postponed along with everyone else due to the pandemic.
The producers had purchased a $ 58 million cast insurance policy from Chubb National, which would be paid in the event Affleck or Rodriguez became ill or died and therefore unavailable during production.
The policy had an expiration date of October 28, 2020, which would cover production under the original schedule. But according to the lawsuit, Chubb refused to extend the deadline to account for the delay.
The expiration date is significant because the policy, issued last October, did not provide for the exclusion of COVID-1
Insurers now refuse to sell policies that would cover COVID-19 losses, so if the original policy was allowed to expire, manufacturers would not be able to replace it. The lawsuit claims that without COVID-19 coverage, manufacturers “probably wouldn’t be able to go ahead with production.”
The producers originally planned to begin filming in Austin, Texas over the summer, but the increase in cases forced them to relocate again. CNBC reported last month that production is now expected to start in Vancouver in October.
The lawsuit argues that Chubb refuses to extend expiration dates across the board, as part of a “pattern and practice of conduct as part of a broad scheme to save himself tens of millions of dollars (or more), in conscious contempt of its policyholders “known rights.”
According to the complaint, the manufacturers’ insurance broker initially asked for a policy that will expire on March 21, 2021, one year from the start of production. But Chubb’s underwriting specialist suggested going with the October 28, 2020 expiration date, as a convenience to match other policies that were being issued.
“This way we will have consecutive expiration dates for all lines and we can extend them as needed,” the specialist wrote, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit argues that Chubb is now reneging on his promise to “extend as needed” and violating established industry customs and practices.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Kirk Pasich and claims eight causes of action, including fraud and breach of contract.