How Photographers and Insurance Connect
Photographers often have a blend of technical and creative skills - they need to know how to operate camera equipment, but they also need to have an artistic eye in order to take captivating photos. A photographer could take many career paths: they could work at a newspaper producing photos to appear alongside news articles, they could work in-house at a company taking photos of their products and marketing campaigns, but many go the independent route and work for a variety of clients, perhaps specializing in one industry or type of photography.
Independent photographers often purchase and store their own equipment, travel for assignments, and deal directly with their customers. As business owners providing a professional service, they face a number of risks that require insurance to ensure their business and assets are protected in any situation.
The Risks Associated with Being a Photographer
The most expensive part of starting and maintaining a photography business is probably the equipment. In addition to a pricey camera that can cost thousands of dollars, professional photographers usually need multiple stands and tripods, lenses, film, backup batteries, and more. Expensive gear can easily be ruined if you’re taking photos in the rain, someone knocks something over, or there’s some other type of accident. Expensive camera equipment is also a tempting target for thieves.
In addition to protecting themselves from costly equipment theft or damage, photographers must also take care to preserve the photos they’ve taken. Many assignments will be “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences, like weddings or important cultural events, meaning lost photos can’t simply be re-shot. A faulty memory card can end up being a pretty big deal. And even if photos are preserved, customers might not always be satisfied with them. If a customer doesn’t feel they received the services promised in your agreement, they could sue.
Just like other small business owners, photographers who work for themselves face numerous risks in the course of doing business, and they need insurance to protect themselves.
How to Mitigate Risks & Choose the Right Insurance
Photographers should be very careful to protect their equipment and photos while they are working. One easy way to mitigate risk is to purchase high quality camera and equipment protective cases for safe transportation. There are also tools photographers can invest in to prevent things like water and sun damage, when appropriate. Additionally, photographers should ensure that any photos they’ve taken at work are securely backed up to prevent loss.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful a photographer is with their equipment and work, accidents still happen. That’s why it’s important to purchase a well-rounded mix of insurance policies that protect you, your equipment, and your business no matter what:
General Liability Insurance
As a photographer dealing with heavy equipment, you face the risk of injuring someone or causing damage to someone else’s property while you are working. Someone could trip over a cord, or you could accidentally drop a heavy piece of equipment and damage a floor. General Liability Insurance will cover you for these incidents where a third party has suffered damages, and pay for any associated legal fees, medical costs, or property repairs.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial Property Insurance covers property you own, including the studio where you conduct business and equipment that generally is kept in the studio, such as computers and lights. If your equipment is damaged, lost, or stolen, or something happens to your studio in a covered situation, Commercial Property Insurance will pay out the cost of replacement or repairs. Since you’ve invested significantly in your equipment, it makes sense to investing in insuring it as well.
Camera and Gear Insurance
If you transport your equipment to multiple locations, property insurance won’t cover you completely. Property insurance policies typically only cover losses that happen in your primary place of business. For full coverage, you should also purchase an Inland Marine Insurance policy. This type of insurance covers your camera equipment while you are on the go, and can even cover rented equipment.
If you offer professional services as a photographer, you should also strongly consider Errors & Omissions Insurance, also known as Professional Liability Insurance. This type of insurance protects you if you make a mistake that causes damage to your client. For example, you could schedule the photo shoot for the wrong day, lose a memory card, or forget to take certain agreed-upon shots during an event. All of these situations make for unhappy customers who could sue. Errors & Omissions Insurance will cover you if you need to re-construct certain shots to make the customer happy, and if the situation winds up in court, it will pay for your legal costs.
Independent photographers wear many hats: they need to generate new business leads, make customers happy, set up equipment, have the technical know-how to take photos in different types of situations, and be creative to produce great work. What shouldn’t they have to worry about? Lawsuits and equipment damage. By purchasing comprehensive insurance coverage, you can focus on doing what you love - photography - and rest easy knowing that an unhappy customer or equipment theft can’t bankrupt your business.