We all like to think that the worst-case scenario won’t happen to us, but what if it does? What would you do if your equipment gets stolen out of your locked car? What if someone gets hurt during a session with you, and you’re expected to cover their medical bills? Or if a wedding photography client sues for damages because they claim you missed shots at their wedding?
Hopefully, you never have to deal with any of these scenarios. But it’s not something you want to gamble on.
As the owner of a photography business, it’s essential to protect your assets. That’s where insurance for photographers comes in.
Many beginning photographers worry that they can’t afford insurance. It’s frustrating to spend your money on insurance, but medical bills and new equipment are much more expensive. The real question is whether you can afford not to have insurance.
Photography insurance will protect your business and your personal finances — as well as your peace of mind and be well worth the upfront cost.
So, what type of insurance do photographers need?
There are several types of insurance for photographers, and which policies you need or want will depend on your business structure and level of risk.
The most common types of insurance for photographers include:
Some photographers may also need property insurance (if you own or rent a studio), commercial auto insurance (if your personal auto policy doesn’t cover business activities), and drone or videography insurance. Using a drone or video camera sometimes requires extra coverage, or riders, beyond general liability coverage.
Now, we’ll take a closer look at the most common types of insurance for photographers. Note that you should use these descriptions for information gathering purposes, not to replace the advice of your insurance agent or attorney.
As the name suggests, general liability insurance generally covers your business. It will protect against property damage, injury claims, and medical costs. It will also help with copyright infringements and slander or libel.
Although general liability insurance is wide-ranging, it won’t cover professional errors (like missing key shots at a wedding) or equipment that is lost or stolen. PPA offers general liability insurance included with their memberships.
Also known as professional liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance protects you from dissatisfied clients. Remember the example of missed shots at a wedding? This is the type of insurance that can protect you in that scenario.
Errors and omissions insurance also comes into play if a client feels your work is inadequate, or if you lose a memory card containing the photos from a session.
Whatever the reason, if a client sues you for damages related to the quality of your work, this insurance will help you cover any damages awarded, in addition to legal fees and court costs. (Keep in mind that even if a court rules in your favor, you’ll still need to pay legal costs out of pocket if you don’t have errors and omissions insurance.)
Errors and omissions insurance is useful for any photographer dealing with clients, but it’s especially recommended for wedding and newborn photographers. The sentimental and one-time only nature of wedding and newborn photography can make photographers more vulnerable to unhappy clients.
General liability insurance doesn’t cover stolen, lost, or damaged equipment, so it’s worth investing in equipment insurance too.
Equipment insurance can cover damages or losses to cameras, lenses, props, lighting equipment, and your computer. Exactly what is covered and how much is covered will vary based on your policy.
If your equipment is damaged because of poor management on your part, it’s usually not covered. Read your policy in full, and make sure to take good care of your gear.
This insurance could be helpful to pay utilities, wages, rent, etc. when you cannot run your business due to reason covered by this insurance. Definitely read your policy and speak to an insurance agent to see if the premiums warrant this insurance for your individual situation.
If you’re unable to work or earn money because you’re too sick or injured, disability insurance will help cover lost wages.
“Disability” does not only refer to catastrophic conditions, like paralysis or a debilitating stroke. Covered “disabilities” are often the result of more common conditions, such as back pain, digestive disorders, pregnancy, depression, heart disease, and arthritis.
If you only photograph a few big events each year, short-term insurance (also known as event insurance) can be more affordable than an annual policy. Short-term policies give you liability coverage for up to three or four days at a time. You can also get one day insurance for photographers depending on your needs. This way, you’re only paying for insurance when you need it.
Let’s say you’re photographing a wedding at a venue that requires proof of $2 million in general liability. If your standard policy doesn’t cover it (or if you don’t have a standard policy), you can purchase a one-day policy to cover the required amount. This is much cheaper than carrying a massive amount of liability coverage all year.
It’s difficult to quantify the cost of photography insurance because it depends on so many factors: your location, the coverage and deductible you choose, and whether you have multiple policies with the same provider. It’s a good idea to discuss your insurance needs with an insurance agent and don’t be afraid to shop around, and be sure to ask about bundling services that can save you money.
Many companies provide insurance coverage for photographers. As a first step, check with your existing home or auto providers to see if you can get a multi-policy discount. If you’re a member of any professional photography organizations like PPA, see if they offer coverage or discounted coverage as a membership benefit.
Then, you can look into other insurance providers, such as:
Before meeting with an agent or getting a quote, do some prep work to ensure your insurance will meet your needs. Take an inventory of equipment and assets, like your camera, lenses, lighting, props, and computer, and get a general estimate for what it’s all worth.
Take that total with you when you meet with an agent, along with copies of your existing auto and homeowners’ policies and your studio rental agreement (if applicable).
Note the job types you take on, including if you shoot any dangerous activities, live animals, or dangerous locations. Do you work in venues that require a specific amount of liability coverage? Bring a list with you so you can make sure you get the coverage you need for your photography business.
As you consider insurance policies, read them in full. You must know how much coverage you have, what’s covered, how and when to file a claim, and any of the fine print associated with your policy. Being informed about your insurance coverage is an important step in protecting your business and your finances.
We know purchasing insurance isn’t the most exciting way to spend your money. But for a photography business owner, covering your assets with insurance is one of the smartest ways to spend your money.
Investing a few hundred dollars a year in insurance coverage can save you far more money in the long run. It’ll give you peace of mind, protect you and your livelihood, and ensure that one bad day can’t ruin your business.
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