At first, being a photographer may seem like a reasonably risk-free endeavor. After all, you aren’t investing client’s fortunes in the stock market, taking tourists bungee jumping, or flying passengers in a sketchy antique aircraft. But there are still many risks that you must consider that merit a photographer insurance. As a photographer, you carry around thousands of dollars in photography equipment and computers. Loss or theft of equipment could cause significant financial hardship and loss of business revenue to professional photographers.
Liability is another important concern. The world is a competitive place, and litigation against service providers and competition is a threat to all businesses. Imagine accidentally selling a photograph without a property release, tripping and breaking a priceless work of art, or a portrait client falling and getting injured during a photo shoot. These risks may seem unlikely, but even the slightest chance of them happening warrants careful thought and consideration by photography business owners.
Photographer insurance buys peace of mind.
Benefits of Photographer Insurance
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, 63 percent of photographers were self-employed. Successful businesses know the risks and threats in their fields of expertise. They weigh the options and balance the reward with the risk. If you are a photographer operating without insurance, you must take fewer risks than photographers that have insurance, and therefore you are at a competitive disadvantage. For wedding and portrait photographers working with clients and booking shooting locations, you may find that some locations want to see proof of your insurance before being allowed to shoot.
The risks for professional photographers come in many different forms. While many of them are unlikely, there are many documented cases of lawsuits filed against professional photographers for various reasons. In one example, a couple sued when their wedding photographer missed capturing their kiss. Photographers have been sued for accidentally breaking valuable artworks and artifacts. One photographer was even sued for missing the last few minutes of a wedding reception. Many years had passed since the wedding had occurred, the photos delivered, and the couple had even gotten divorced!
Many photographers are now becoming drone operators. This new form of photography adds a new level of liability for photography businesses. Unmanned aerial vehicles raise many privacy concerns and safety concerns. Drones are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, and many photographers knowingly or unknowingly violate the many complicated aviation regulations every day. If you operate a drone in your business, government regulation, liable and privacy suits, and property damage are new considerations that should be analyzed carefully and discussed with your insurance company.
Choosing the right professional photographer insurance
To adequately shop for photographers insurance, you are going to have to do some research about what the most likely risk scenarios are for you and your business. Where could you get in trouble, and where would you need help? As with any insurance, you’ll probably also want to shop around, contacting multiple companies and getting multiple quotes. Getting solid numbers will give you a budget idea of what you can afford and what works the best for your business. A balance must be struck that gives you enough coverage to protect yourself for the types of shooting that you do but also does not adversely affect your bottom line.
Types of photographer business insurance:
There are two main types of insurance of interest to photographers: liability and equipment coverage. Depending on your business, you may need one or both types of photography business insurance.
Liability Insurance for Photographers
Liability insurance helps protect you from lawsuits. In general, the insurance company is agreeing to represent you in the unlikely event that you get sued. Liability insurance comes in different forms. It can be to protect you from bodily injury, defamation and libel cases, property damage claims, or dissatisfied clients. Many policies for photographers cover “errors and omissions.” Also known as professional liability insurance, this is a form of coverage specifically to cover groundless lawsuits from unhappy customers. Even frivolous lawsuits can cost a lot of money. General liability coverage is for situations involving bodily injury, defamation and libel cases, or property damage.
When shopping for photographer liability insurance, it’s important to remember that you are not just at risk of being sued by clients or other companies. The primary threat comes from being sued by other insurance companies. Insurance providers are not in the business of paying out claims. They are in the business of indemnifying their customers by getting the money from the responsible parties. If you, as the photographer, are involved in a claim from an event or incident that you participated in, the insurance companies are going to want your share of the damages, even if you were not negligent or copiable. For this reason, you need your own insurance company to protect you from the insurance companies. In policies, it is usually referred to as a third-party claim.
Photography Equipment Insurance
The second type of insurance for photographers is to cover their equipment. In the case of theft, loss, or damage, the insurance company will indemnify your loss with cash to buy new equipment. You’ll want to read the binding documents of the policy carefully to fully understand exactly what is covered and how to make a claim. You may need to submit a police report or other documentation, and you may be responsible for certain things like keeping your equipment list with the insurance company updated.
Is my photography equipment covered under Homeowner’s Insurance policies:
Many people believe their homeowner's policies will cover equipment insurance for photographers, and this is true in some cases. Again, you must carefully study the documents that come with the policy. Many policies do not cover items used for business and will only cover personal items. Additionally, the limits on these policies may be too low to cover expensive professional cameras and gear.
Top Insurance Providers of Pro Photographers Insurance
PPA is a professional organization for professional photographers that offers training, certifications, and photography insurance. Their insurance policies are more basic than some of the insurance companies listed below, but they are designed specifically for photographers to meet their needs. Membership in PPA costs $28 per month or $323 per year. For people who are already members, their basic equipment coverage plans start at $175 a year, and their liability coverages begin at just under $230 a year. PPA offers upgraded policies to cover higher limits, and they offer specialty add-ons to include special activities like drone operations and data loss.
TCP & Co. offers several different options for photography insurance that covers liability and equipment. They have specialized quotes for videographers and drone operators. TCP & Co. offers same day binding of policies and quick and easy applications. For photographers, their standard liability coverage goes up to $2 million, and equipment coverages are usually $25,000. Higher limits are available on a case-by-case basis. Their policies have many extra options, including coverage of office furniture if you work from a fixed location and even worldwide coverage on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. They also offer short-term policies to cover equipment rentals. Policies start around $500 per year, contact them for a custom quote.
Hill and Usher’s Package Choice policies are custom suited to each client and are a popular pick with photographers. Deductibles range from $250 to $1000, and plans can cover any type of photography you specialize in. You must contact them for a custom quote to get an exact rate.
HISCOX has been around for more than 100 years and has some unique policies that cover things like satellite damage, kidnappings, and computer hackings. But they also offer several different types of insurance for photographers. Their liability options include professional liability, general liability, and business owners insurance. They have some attractive options like coverage for electronic data loss which may also be useful. Typical rates begin as low as $400 a year, but you must contact them for a custom quote.
Insureon offers many different policies to suit every photographer’s situation, from general and photographer liability insurance to many others. They have an online quote system to get you a custom price quickly. You can also download an excellent 46-page ebook from the Insureon website that covers the risks that self-employed photographers face.
It’s easy to focus on the artistic side of photography and forget that as a professional you are first and foremost running a business. Businesses are designed to make money, and they have assets that must be protected. Many locations and customers will assume that as a professional you are covered by at least basic photographer insurance should a problem arise. It is crucial to shop carefully and ensure that you are covered for the types of shooting you intend to do.
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