Camera theft is always a worry, and KitSplit has announced a per-project "voluntary parting" coverage to make insuring such a loss easier when you rent your gear.
Cameras are unfortunately very easy to steal. Other things that cost as much, like cars, are much bigger and have alarms and require some skill to steal. But cameras and other film accessories can be very attractive to thieves because they are very expensive items that are small and thus easy to move.
There have been some major crimes built around stealing film gear, but even those of us with small-time gear still worry every time we take it to a set or rent it out on a platform.
Of course, we have insurance to cover damage to our gear, and mostly we have insurance that covers theft, but there is a key exception to that theft coverage. If you are working on a set and someone wanders by and grabs the camera and runs, that is covered, but if you rent the camera to someone (as you might on a sharing platform), and they disappear with the camera, that isn't considered theft, it's considered fraud, which means you need separate "voluntary parting" coverage.
The issue is that many insurance vendors just don't even offer voluntary parting coverage, which is where KitSplit comes in.
They are now offering per-project voluntary parting coverage through an optional waiver. So if you are renting something out, you will now have the option of opting-in to a waiver program that will cover up to $20,000 worth of gear. As the program grows, they hope to raise that number.
While all rental platforms try to educate their users about this risk involved, and the importance being careful with who you rent to, there was a rather high profile article on Medium earlier this week about the theft of an A7III package that likely led to KitSplit deciding to offer this coverage. And, pleasantly, an apology for how they initially handled it from the CEO. They are going to retroactively go back and cover the replacement of that theft, and launch this program going forward. It's never great for a customer service story to go viral, but immediate action is clearly the best remedy.
What's interesting about this is it appears to be an internal program at this point. The other major player in this space, ShareGrid, worked with their primary insurance vendor Athos to offer voluntary parting coverage for users, but that is on an annual, not a per-project basis, and it's an additional line item. If you are renting all the time, yearly voluntary parting coverage makes sense, but if you are an occasional renter, it might make more sense to opt in to the waiver.
We are now in an interesting space where one of the major areas of competition between these platforms will come down to vetting procedures. Of course, we want a good rental inventory and a clean UI and fast payment processing from our rental marketplaces, but the real killer feature will be trust, and that comes down to robust user vetting. Both platforms do a lot on this already, but we imagine that all the major platforms will see an increase in vetting and fraud preventions tools going forward, especially if this is something KitSplit is, in fact, funding themselves.
If it's their money they spend to replace renter-stolen gear, they are even more incentivized to up their anti-fraud tools, since scammers will keep finding new ways around every protection that is created.
To be clear, in the scenario in our headline picture, "voluntary parting" would only come into play if Keanu was renting that camera from the yellow-shirted cowboy. If Keanu is just straight up stealing the camera, your normal coverage has you set. But your normal per-project coverage doesn't cover you if Keanu had come to rent the camera, then took off with it. Now KitSplit offers coverage that does. There is no insurance to protect us from Mr. Reeves charm, however. Just look at that smile. Also, this is another great time to remember that the above image is from a film, and does not show Mr. Reeves actually stealing a camera.
The program was announced this week and will be available in the coming months, check out the KitSplit blog for more info.