Trade union for thespians hits out at insurance industry 'prejudice' against actors

 

From James Dean’s fatal spin in the 1950s to Mel Gibson’s 87mph drunk driving in the noughties and Lindsay Lohan’s pranging of a Porsche on California’s Pacific highway this summer, the combination of Hollywood stars and cars has often been inglorious - and sometimes tragic.

Indeed so unfortunate is the perceived record of actors behind the wheel that they are ranked alongside journalists and footballers in official actuarial charts of recklessness – and are charged sky-high premiums for motor insurance.

Now the profession’s public voice, Equity, is challenging what it claims are outdated assumptions about its members’ prowess on the roads - and says it has found evidence that insurers are penalising them out of “prejudice” rather than a cool-headed assessment of the facts.

The trade union for thespians has become so angry with Britain’s £33bn-a-year insurance industry that it has launched a national campaign urging its members to demand a better deal.

According to Equity, which has 36,000 full and 5,000 student members, actors are not just charged high rates for motor insurance but are often refused cover entirely.

In one recent example, actor Branko Tomovic, whose credits include the TV series Casualty and A Touch of Frost, was refused car hire because of insurance problems.

“The company I spoke to didn’t even ask me what I was using the car for,” he told The Stage newspaper. “Many other professions have the same schedule as an actor. Any self-employed person has to be flexible and be able to work at night or in the day.”

Equity decided to launch the campaign at a recent board meeting at which the issue provoked animated discussion, after being deeply unconvinced by the industry’s explanation for why actors were being charged more.

In a letter to the union, the director general of the trade body the Association of British Insurers, Otto Thoresen, explained: “For actors, we have been told that they are much more likely to be involved in a collision than for most other occupations.”

The ABI said this was “probably” due to actors driving long distances and late at night when touring and the possibility of expensive claims from giving colleagues a lift – as well as the risk of settling a claim involving a high-earning star.

However when asked to share the underlying “actuarial data” demonstrating the higher risk, the ABI admitted that no single insurer had “a large enough number of actors as customers to be able to draw reliable statistical conclusions from their claims history”. As a result, Mr Thoresen said, underwriters had to draw conclusions about the increased risk “from what they know”.

Malcolm Sinclair, Equity president, responded with a sharply-worded attack on the industry on behalf of his members, most of which earn well below Hollywood wages.

He said: “Being charged high insurance premiums or being refused insurance altogether is something which blights actors’ lives and I am appalled that it is based not on clear data but on supposition and prejudice.

“This must stop and I appeal to Equity members to make their views known to the Association of British Insurers.”

The Financial Ombudsman Service, which investigates malpractice in personal finance, said it could not take up a grievance on behalf of the entire acting profession, but would pursue complaints from individuals.

Equity is calling for aggrieved actors to lodge complaints to FOS, whose service is free, and to write letters of protest to the ABI.

The average annual motor insurance premium for an actor so far this year was £1,049 a year, according to price comparison site Confused.com.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before