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Tips & Tricks

Insurance For Photographers: Options and Tips For Protecting Your Gear

By Hanssie on January 15th 2015

The wonderful world of insurance. It’s pretty much worthless until something unforseen happens, but if you don’t have it, boy do you wish you did. Be it car insurance, homeowners insurance, or photography gear insurance, insurance is a part of life as an adult and especially life as a business owner.

Honestly, who really wants to talk about insurance? Talk about a snooze-fest. Right up there with contracts and taxes, insurance is a necessary evil and no matter how much you may want to bury your head in the sand, gear insurance is one of the most important things you need to have as a photographer. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the wedding photographers and videographers who were robbed at gunpoint during a photo shoot with a bride and groom. The videographers did not have insurance and now they are trying to raise funds via indiegogo to recover some of the losses.

[REWIND: ARMED MEN ROB PHOTOGRAPHERS, BRIDE & GROOM DURING PHOTO SHOOT]

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Gear is expensive, insurance is not. For about $50 a month, you buy not only the assurance that if anything were to happen to your fragile and very expensive equipment, you won’t be up a creek, but also peace of mind in case said gear decides to jump into the ocean for a swim. In the following video, DSLR Video Shooter talks about gear insurance and presents some options to help with your research in gear insurance.

Caleb Pike lists 4 options to insure your gear, the pros and cons and the price of each of them. He begins by talking about a Home Contents Policy, which will run about $10 a month. Personally, I don’t like this option because it has limited coverage and is only good if your gear is stolen from your home or if it gets damaged by nature, no insurance for accidental damage. If you have minimal gear, you should look into the second option Caleb mentions, Protect Your Bubble. For $3.99 a month, you have coverage of all the gear under your roof. He also lists a few photography membership groups you could join such as ASMP or PPA, as well as the company he went with, Insure My Equipment.

For my business, I went with Hill & Usher who has a specialty in insurance for photographers. I paid about $225 per quarter and it was sufficient for my small photography business.

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Caleb goes on to talk about liability insurance (which was covered under my Hill & Usher plan), and also giving tips such as making sure you fill out and send in those warranty cards for your gear, using GPS trackers for your bags and services like LensTag and Find My iPhone. With gear you can never be too safe and cannot afford to not have it.

The video is brief, at a little over 13 minutes and is a great start if you’re researching protecting your gear. We can all agree that it’s important, so take some time today and protect yourself and your precious gear.

What tips do you have for insuring your gear? What companies do you have experience with? Comment below.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
Hanssie@slrlounge.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Adam Deierling

    Great article.  In case anyone needs more info, I get my insurance through  http://www.FilmEmporium.com.  Good rates and very helpful staff.  Worth looking into.

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  2. desmond chislom

    GREAT INFO

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  3. Graham Curran

    A useful article and a lot of helpful comments.

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  4. Kyle Farris

    We have $2,000,000 in liability, $15k for photo gear, and $15k for computer stuff and pay about $550 a year (not sure what the deductible is, have to look it up). Very reasonable. We got it though Pictage who just brokered it to Philadelphia Insurance.

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    • Kyle Farris

      To clarify (no way to edit), there’s also coverage for $15,000 on rented equipment and $5,000 for data/media recovery. The deducible is $500, though, so, not great if you break/lose/get robbed for something sub-$500.

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  5. Rafael Steffen

    Great article on some great information about gear insurance.

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  6. robert garfinkle

    WILLIAM MARSHALL? COVERED!!

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  7. Spencer Sarson

    Anybody have any advice about Liability Insurance? I’m a wedding videographer and am coming across venues that require all the vendors to have insurance and provide a COI that specific states the venue at $1,000,000 or more. Trying to figure out the best option…

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    • Harry Lim

      Yes, I have liability insurance through Hill & Usher. I’m pretty sure it covers Errors & Omissions which is important for wedding photographers! My policy is a little over $300 a year for liability. It’s also very easy to send a COI to a client.

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    • Harry Lim

      I also use Hill & Usher. The first year I had both equipment and liability insurance. The second year, I figured after depreciation and deductible, I wouldn’t get back very much for lost/stolen/damaged gear; so I dropped equipment insurance and just kept liability.

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    • William Marshall

      You will absolutely need liability insurance. A million dollar limit shouldn’t be too much and I think it should be the minimum that you have, people are too quick to sue these days and most policies cover legal cost inside the policy limits.

      Source: I’m an insurance agent.

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  8. William Emmett

    First, I use a company called “Worth Ave Group”. It insures up to a amount you decide. I don’t carry all my stuff on a shoot, only what I will need. So this works for me. Now, for those who get turned down for claims, go to a lawyer. A amateur that makes a few dollars in a year, is not a full time pro. Insurance companies work at denying claims. Bring a lawsuit, you’ll be surprised at the outcome. You can sue your insurance company.

    WE

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  9. norman tesch

    i have problems with insurance in that it seems they are more than happy to take your money but when it comes time for a claim you will never get your stuff fixed or replaced. not to mention your deductable. might as well just put money in a bank account to buy something new when it is comprimised.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      That’s how insurance companies make money. It doesn’t matter if it’s health insurance or something else; they’ll deny your claim.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      That’s great information. I’m a photo enthusiast. The only current equipment that I own is a Canon 5D Mk III. I have two obsolete cameras, Canon A-1 and F-1N with respective accessories and lenses. I don’t know what insurance will cover for 30 plus year old camera gear.

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    • robert garfinkle

      Try state farm. I have had a relationship with them for years, car, home, etc, etc…

      and then added cameras in the last 3 years. Yes, I’m prone to what you are saying, as anyone is, but here is what I say –

      1. do your homework, find out who really covers you and backs it up no hassle.

      2. If you have a relationship with an agent / office, start there first – if they know you, and you make a legit claim, there is no reason in the world the agency would not back it up.

      3. though insurance rates can be high, understand that, yet going for less costly insurance, could, not saying it will happen, but could land you in the dog house when it comes time for them to honor your claim – almost like you get what you pay for, where conditions have to be absolutely “perfect” to a “T” before they pay and if not, they deny it. Where as in my experience, when I’ve made a claim, they did not question it, they did not want damaged product back, they just cut a check, and frankly they did not raise rates or drop… having said that, I do not think I have an unusual case or unusual agent – just one who I have had a relationship with for quite a while…

      4. Lastly, to play a bit more on my 3rd point, whether or not it’s a camera, TV, computer, it should be regarded as the same, yes? do we agree? I had to claim a TV, my friend has claimed 3 computers and a camera, and with state farm, they honor it, they cut a check, they don’t hem and haw, they just take care of the customer.

      So, I can see more often than not issues arise, sure, yet I really believe you can experience what I have and so it goes…

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  10. David Hall

    These options are great for those in the photography business. I’m not sure what the best practice would be for a hobbyist (someone not in business) that gets his/her gear stolen. As an example, I have a friend that owned a Cannon camera with a lens. Photography wasn’t her sole source of income. She made a dollar or two on the side, weekends and such. Her camera was left in her car trunk overnight and someone broke into her car and stole the camera. She filed a police report and submitted a claim to her insurance company. I believe it was her auto insurance company. Her insurance investigator asked her if she has ever made any money with her camera on the side. She answered honestly, telling him that she had made a few dollars as a hobbyist but very little money was ever made. The insurance company denied her claim and wouldn’t pay for her lost camera because they viewed it as a business loss. Since she wasn’t a business, she had no other insurance. They never paid this claim.

    Just wondering if anyone has ever heard of something like this happening?

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    • Stephen Jennings

      I had that problem when I started buying professional quality gear. I had called my auto insurance ahead of time to ask what would be covered in the event of a crash/theft and they asked if I made money from the gear, I said yes, and they said they wouldn’t cover anything without a business auto policy.

      Also, before I even started making money from photography I had my Home Contents Policy (just a rider to the home insurance) denied for exceeding the total value allowed for a residential policy. State Farm said they would cover me … up to $3k lol… Wouldn’t even cover the camera body.

      I hate insurance companies.

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    • robert garfinkle

      state farm, for people like me ( non professional ), offers $1.50 / $100.00 spent in gear a year. so $7260.00 in gear, lets see 72.6 x $1.50 = $108.90 / year and thats a direct loss insurance with no deductable. none!

      easier math, to cover $10,000.00 worth of gear it runs about $150.00 anually.

      thats a great deal…

      now. if their underwriters even think you’ve made a penny as a business they will cancel the policy or not honor a claim.

      if your equipment fails to operate, not covered…

      if you trip and fall and drop your gear, covered..

      you were changing your lens and a bear grabbed it, covered. if you started chasing the bear after it stole your lens, you crossed a river, the inside of your camera gets soaked, covered.

      if you are changing your lens and wind blows dust n dirt inside both the camera and the lens making it fail or destroying both items etc, covered…

      you are a guest at a family or other event, the resident drunk drinks too much, spills a beer on your equipment, then loses his / her cookies in your camera bag, COVERED!!

      STOLEN? COVERED!!

      and I am 100% serious, the rules are a direct loss of ANY type, covered!!!

      any natural failure not due to direct loss, not covered.

      comments from state farm, though most likely on a case x case basis, chances are if you claim within two years they will, honor the claim but most likely drop you like a fly… other than that, again – direct loss, not a problem, covered and you will keep policy provided that you don’t have substantial subsequent claims within the next two years…

      they will insure ANYTHING related to personal camera equipment such as bags, tripods, flash, lenses, filters, rechargable batteries, chargers for rechargables, cameras, memory cards, cables, flash, complete list of camera accessories and if you are nice ;) they will most likely insure yo;ur wacom as it relates to your camera equipment…

      with the exception of a couple misc items I’ve insured it all – yup, even the powerex batteries and maha chargers…

      man, I’m covered… and done here!!

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    • Matthew Blasi

      Actually I had my camera bag stolen out of my car, and because most of my gear can be considered professional gear since I have no issues spending the money on the things I want, my insurance company (USAA) investigated the claim, like her I was honest with them I had made something to the tune of $500 total in the 3-4 years leading up to and including the time of the theft and they upheld my claim.

      It was not part of my car insurance but rather I have a separate policy for “valuable personal property” which covers all of my camera gear which includes things like my 200mm f/2 and 300mm f/2.8 lenses. At the time of the theft I was at a race at VIR and had the gear stolen out of my car, $17k worth of gear.

      I can’t say if I was lucky or if there is a limit that insurance companies deem as becoming “professional” use, I just know I was honest and they upheld the claim. While I hope nothing like it ever happens again my insurance was most certainly worth it.

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