In June 2000, when popular Hindi film actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai (Rai) met with an accident, there was another casualty – United India Insurance (UII) . Though the accident cost the insurance company a sum of only Rs 1.6 million, it attracted substantial media coverage. The reason was that it was the first instance of the Hindi film industry availing the benefits of film insurance – a practice followed in the US film industry since the era of silent movies.
The credit for pioneering the film insurance business in India however goes to the successful Hindi film producer-director Subhash Ghai (Ghai). Ghai was the first Indian filmmaker to have his film 'Taal'insured for a sum of Rs 110 million with UII in 1998. The move was welcomed by both media and film personalities as opening of a new chapter in the Indian film industry. UII Asst. General Manager, Bhandari said, "'Taal'being the first Hindi film to be insured, the policy had to be formulated from scratch." UII even honored Ghai with naming the policy 'The Cine Mukta Policy'after his company Mukta Arts Pvt. Ltd.
By July 2001, UII had insured around 8-10 films, for sums varying from Rs 25 million to Rs 220
million, with many more in the pipeline. The insured films included YashRaj Films''Mohabbatein,'
Aamir Khan Productions''Lagaan,'Farhan Akhtar's 'Dil Chahta Hai,'Karan Johar's 'Kabhi Khushi
Kabhi Gham'and Dreamz Unlimited's 'Asoka'among others.
Industry watchers were happy to note that the hitherto highly unorganized Hindi film business was
finally adopting 'corporate'practices. The fact that the industry had not opted for film insurance till the late 1990s was however not because of the producers'ignorance. A host of
other problems that plagued the film industry were responsible for this. The fact remained that
the problems with the industry's mode of operations had rendered the standard global practice of
getting a film insured taboo.
Cinema entered India in 1896 with the screening of six soundless short films in Bombay. Dada
Saheb Phalke, considered to be the father of Indian cinema, made the first fully indigenous
feature film 'Raja Harishchandra'in 1913. The first film with sound 'Alam Ara,'was released in
1931, and the first color film, 'Kisan Kanya,'was released in 1937.