You’re a photographer, and you’ve gone pro. Your gear is your everything. We don’t want to be negative Nancy’s over here, but do you have a backup plan if mishaps head your way?
Whether you’re looking into insurance because you’ve been required to provide proof for a venue, or because you’ve read up on photographer muggings (yes–it’s real), getting set up with a good policy is a wise decision. We tapped the minds of the insurance advisors over at Next Insurance, one of our affiliate partners, to get the low-down on what all the legal mumbo-jumbo even means. Because honestly, we’d rather be shooting photos than filling out paperwork. Commence migraine-avoidance… now.
On the money
Nobody likes extra bills in the mail so it’s important to understand what you’re paying for and why. So let’s start with what you pay for your policy, it’s called a premium. Premiums are generally paid monthly, semi-annually, or annually. When comparing policies, ensure you’re looking at prices across the same time period.
But insurance isn’t just about how much you’re spending on your premium. You’ll want to know the kind of coverage you’re getting in return for your hard earned cash. The limit is the most money that your policy will ever pay out for a single claim. On top of that, there is an aggregate limit that would cover all claims per year. For instance, if you have a $100,000 limit and a $200,000 aggregate limit, the policy would pay up to $100,000 for your first claim and up to $100,000 for your second. But a third claim within that year wouldn’t be covered.
For each claim, there could also be a deductible, which is how much you’re responsible for before your insurance kicks in. In that example above, if you have a $500 deductible for a stolen camera, you’d pay $500 before the insurance policy would cover the rest, up to $100,000. Typically, you’ll pay a higher premium for a lower deductible or for higher limits. It’s important to think about the likelihood of something happening, and how comfortable you are paying a higher deductible in exchange for lower bills.
Choosing a policy
There’s no one size fits all solution for insurance, and some types of insurance coverage are better (or worse) for different types of photographers. Many traditional insurance carriers offer what is called a business owner policy (BOP). This is a generic bundled insurance policy that covers a wide range of different types of businesses. That being said, it may not cover what you need as a photographer, or may give you unnecessary coverage. Most BOP policies include business property insurance–something you may only need if you have a studio. If you can do a little research, you might discover that a BOP isn’t necessarily the right choice for certain photographers.
To get better, more relevant coverage, consider piecing together your own package – or, ideally, working with someone who has put one together for photography businesses.
So what’s covered?
Well, let’s start with the foundation of a good insurance policy. General liability is usually the core of commercial insurance policies. This generally covers things like bodily injury and property damage. While we all hope that nobody will get hurt during a shoot, or that the location won’t be damaged, it does happen. General liability is the most critical and basic element of a policy, since accidents, while rare, can put you out of business. And nobody wants that.
The next consideration is professional liability insurance, which covers any alleged failures on your part as a photographer (e.g., being late to a wedding or producing photos the client isn’t happy with). And the final component to a well-rounded policy? Equipment coverage, or in technical insurance terms, inland marine. This covers damage, theft, or loss of your equipment.
The fine print on exclusions
For all of those types of insurance, you’ll also want to educate yourself on any potential exclusions. These can be tricky exemptions from your insurance policy that cause a problem when you file a claim. Some photographer’s insurance policies have excluded everything from water damage, to equipment protection outside of your home or studio (e.g., theft on location). It’s important to triple check your policy before buying in, to ensure there aren’t any issues down the road.
Next Insurance helped us decrypt the complex world of photographer’s insurance policies for two reasons. One, they don’t want you to end up in tears when your gear gets broken by some drunkard at a wedding, and secondly, because it’s their business. We think that #1 is the main reason for #2 though–so we’re gonna encourage you to check out their excellent policies. Got more questions? Ask away, they’re more than happy to help you decipher your next insurance policy.