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Good camera equipment is not cheap. Most photographers spend years
acquiring theirs. If you had to replace all your equipment at once, or
even a portion of it, would you be able to? What would you do if faced
with such a situation? Settle for a fraction of the equipment you
once had? Stop taking pictures altogether and pick up a cheaper
None of the above sound appealing? Consider insuring your equipment.
If your equipment is insured, check the coverage and exclusions of
your policy to make sure you have the coverage you need. If you lost
all your equipment tomorrow, would your insurance company pay for the
replacement value of your equipment? Would you face exclusions if you
receive photography-related income? Understanding your level of
coverage today could save you from being unable to shoot pictures
What type of policy do I need?
The type of policy you need depends on how you use your equipment. If
you do not make any money through the use of your equipment, a
standard homeowners or renters policy should cover against theft and
fire, even when your equipment is outside your home. Typically,
standard homeowners and renters policies cover you against named
perils only. They also typically have deductibles. If your equipment
is accidentally damaged, for example, you drop it, chances are it will
not be covered under a standard homeowners or renters policy.
If you use your equipment for non-commercial purposes, another
alternative is buying an "all-risk" floater. This attachment to your
homeowners or renters policy includes a schedule of covered items. An
all risk floater generally covers the scheduled equipment against
everything except specifically excluded perils stated in the policy
(e.g., acts of war). So if you're walking down a street and you
accidentally drop your camera and a car drives by and runs it over,
smashing it into pieces, it's covered unless that situation is
specifically excluded in your policy.
If you use your equipment primarily for business purposes, you should
be insured by a commercial inland marine policy. A commercial
policy offers all-risk coverage for equipment, eliminates the
potential of exclusions if equipment is used professionally, and
offers a variety of optional floaters designed to insure against the
liabilities faced by a professional (e.g., someone trips over your
What type of policy do I need if I occasionally use my equipment for
That's a difficult question to answer. Some photographers who
generate revenue from their work, even if it's not their primary
source of income, need a commercial policy. Commercial policies are
generally more expensive than personal policies and might be required
depending on the value of your equipment and the level of income you
generate from photography. It's not unusual for a photographer to
talk with two different insurance agents and be told by one that they
require a commercial policy while the other says a personal policy is
sufficient. Your best bet is to talk to a number of insurance agents
representing different companies and see which company will offer you
the best deal. Remember that misrepresenting your information could
cause your coverage to be denied. Worse, if you are offered a policy,
misrepresenting your information could cause your claim to be denied,
even though your policy is fully-paid!
Due to interest from the community, photo.net has arranged for a
special photo equipment insurance program available exclusively to
photo.net members. The program offers photographer's insurance at a
heavily discounted rate as a photo.net subscription benefit. Click
here to view a document outlining the coverage levels, benefits and
associated costs for the insurance. If you're already a photo.net
subscriber, you can access the insurance application form in the
Subscriber Services section of your personal photo.net workspace
If you aren't currently a photo.net subscriber, you can click here to subscribe.
I want to add a floater to my homeowners or renters policy
Items of value, including photography equipment, that are not covered
or have limited coverage on standard homeowners policies may be
scheduled on a personal articles floater. Rates for insuring your
equipment on a personal article floater vary among companies.
Generally, you should expect to pay about $1.35 - $1.75 per every $100
dollars of equipment with no deductible. Coverage is usually in
addition to your unscheduled property, giving you more coverage if
there is a total loss. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies
provide coverage against named perils only. If your camera falls off
a shelf and breaks, it is not necessarily covered. Personal article
floaters are usually written on an all-risk basis, meaning your
equipment is insured against everything except specifically excluded
perils. So, if you're leaning over the side of a boat to get the
perfect shot, your strap breaks and your camera falls to the bottom of
the ocean, it should be covered unless that peril is specifically
excluded in your all-risk floater or if you intentionally threw the
camera overboard. With a personal article floater, the burden is on
the insurance company to prove that a claim is not covered. With a
standard homeowners policy, the burden is on the insured.
Personal article floaters provide broad coverage, usually with no
deductibles. Generally, you're agreeing on the value of your
equipment prior to loss. When you apply for a floater, your insurance
broker will ask you to list all your equipment, the market
value/replacement cost, serial number and other information on your
equipment. The market value of an item is the replacement cost of the
item in its current state, not a new piece of equipment. Generally,
insurance companies replace insured equipment and do not pay cash for
the value of the item. If you want cash to replace the item yourself,
generally you will have to negotiate with your insurance provider.
Personal article floaters can also cover items you've bought even if
you have not told your agent. Policies can provide coverage for newly
acquired items for up to 30 to 90 days if you pay a pro-rated premium.
I need a commercial policy
If photography is your primary income, or a source of income, a
commercial policy might be right for you. Generally a commercial
policy is more expensive than a personal article floater attached to
your homeowners or renters insurance policy. You should expect to pay
between $1.75-$2.25 per every $100 dollars of equipment with a
deductible between $250-$500 per claim. A commercial policy offers a
similar level of coverage for equipment as an all risk personal
article floater, but eliminates the potential exclusion of
equipment if used professionally.
Additional coverage available on a commercial policy includes general
liability, commercial property, workers compensation, commercial
automobile coverage and umbrella liability to name a few.
Most states require you to carry workers compensation
insurance(they're so good in Massachusetts of keeping track of this
even photo.net had to comply when sent notice after only a month of
incorporation). Professional photographers operating a studio with
employees could be liable for any and all costs associated with
injuries in the event fo an accident. Professionals not only face this
liability with full-time employees, but also with anyone they have
hired for an assignment. Carrying workers compensation protects you
from personally being liable for such costs. General liability
insurance further protects you from third party bodily injury or
The bottom line is that you should get the type of coverage that best
fits your needs before you're faced with the strain of having
to pay for equipment, injuries, or other liabilities. If your
equipment is insured, check your policy and make sure you have the
coverage you need and that you will not face exclusion if you receive
income from your photography.
Photo.net Survey Results and Insurance Program
We ran a survey on photo.net to determine both if there was interest
from the community for a photo.net insurance program and the level of
demand. There is great interest as we received 699 responses. We
determined the average amount of equipment users wanted insured was
$8,452 and the median was about $5,500. 15% of users reported greater
than $20,000 dollars worth of equipment to insure.
As a result, photo.net has arranged for a discounted photographers
insurance program to be available exclusively for photo.net members
details). As a photo.net subscriber, you can access the
application form in the "subscriber services" section of your personal
photo.net workspace page.
Business forum (check the
"uncategorized" archived threads for a lot of discussion about insurance)