As more and more Americans are buying wedding insurance to protect themselves in case of a wedding day mishap, what does this mean for photographers and videographers in the industry?

Wedding costs are on the rise, with the average wedding price tag of around $26,000, according to NBC News. A number of insurance companies are reporting that they are selling more and more “wedding insurance” policies.

Hanssie-weddings-1 copyWith the government closures last year as well as floods in Colorado, a number of displaced couples found their weddings canceled or rescheduled. If those couples were protected with wedding insurance, they would’ve been able to submit a claim. Wedding insurance not only covers “acts of God,” for instance, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other weather conditions, but also illnesses, military deployment, and even, cold feet.

A mother of the bride recently spent $500 to insure her daughter’s $50,000 wedding last year in New Orleans with Hartford-based Travelers Cos. Inc. The limo driver didn’t show up, so she used the claim to get their deposit back.

About a quarter of the claims are vendor based, with most of those claims relating to wedding photographers and videographers. After some research, most policies stated under their wedding photography/videography clause, cover the bride in groom in the case of the  photographer’s film being defective or photos are lost or damaged. It covers no shows or if the photographer loses the wedding photos. The coverage can reimburse the bride or groom for the cost of reconvening the wedding party to take new photos or video. One insurance company specifically stated that it does not cover “overexposed/underexposed” photographs.

[REWIND: Caught on Video: Thief Steals $6,000 Worth of Camera Equipment During Wedding Ceremony]

Hanssie-weddings-2 copyAs a wedding photographer myself, this poses the question for me about where the line is drawn. Eventually, if it hasn’t happened already, some couple is going to try to submit a claim against their wedding photographer because they simply didn’t like their photos. Will these insurance companies side with the not-so-happy couple, or their photographer? There have been plenty of court cases in the past where photographers have been sued for “bad photos,” or even one (read about  Nelson Tang case here) who is currently being sued even though the photos were “freaking great.”

With wedding insurance policies on the rise, what can you do as a photographer/videographer to protect yourselves?

Hanssie-weddings-5How Can Photographers/Videographers Protect Themselves?

These may be common sense, but I’m still SHOCKED at the photographers I meet that break these simple rules.

1. ALWAYS Have a Written Contract.

And make sure it’s rock solid. Here is a template to give you some guidelines. You might want to take a look at your current contract and make sure it is thorough. Even if the bride is your best friend from the 1st grade or your mom’s favorite niece, get a signed contract.

2. Make Sure Your Business is Insured.

There are so many photographers out there that don’t have insurance for a variety of reasons. Sure, a few hundred bucks every year is a significant chunk of change for a photographer who may only be shooting part time. I understand it, I’ve been there. And as tempting as it is to put that money toward upgrading to a  Canon 5d Mark III or buying that Canon 85mm f1.2 I’ve you’ve been eyeing, being a pro photographer without insurance is just pushing your luck, hoping that nothing bad happens.

hanssie-weddings-33. Do Not Deliver All the RAW Files

Even if you are doing a shoot and burn, it’s worth it to take the extra time to cull all of your images. Your clients do not need to see what is behind the curtain of the Great and Mighty Oz. They don’t need to see EVERY SINGLE SHOT. The time spent culling through the image set, could be time NOT spent in a courtroom defending yourself.  Unless every single image you ever click is a perfectly exposed, perfectly focused rendition of a beautiful, unique moment in time.

4. Communicate with Your Clients.

Make sure you discuss with your client their expectations before the wedding day, during the wedding day and after the wedding day. I actually have my clients put it in writing their expectations in the form of a questionnaire. A week before the wedding, I send them a photography schedule and have them edit and approve it before the big day. If they have a “shot list,” I always try to educate them about how I will do my best, but sometimes time or other things may prevent getting every single shot on that list. After the wedding, I always try to maintain a good relationship with my clients, sending them sneak peeks and updating them on the progress of their photos.

[Recommended: Photographer Insurance Guide | Best Options]

These tips are not surefire ways to save you from a disgruntled client or a potential lawsuit, but will offer you some protection in the case that you do find that you have to defend yourself in court. Especially in a world where lawsuits are popping up everywhere and people are purchasing insurance “just in case” they get left at the altar.

CREDITS: All photographs shared by Hanssie are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

Check out our SLR Lounge YouTube Page