What types of insurance coverages should a photographer or videographer buy?

A Review of Photographer Insurance Risks and Package Choice

It is not uncommon for a professional photographer to operate his or her business without purchasing any kind of written insurance policy. Perhaps, the conscientious care you take with cameras and other photographic equipment eliminates any need for insurance protection, especially when paying your annual or monthly premiums is viewed as a direct invasion of your profits.

"I watch my cameras pretty closely, because they are my most significant investment," you might say, adding that you "have been a photographer for many years and never had any problem." The truth is, the risks associated with making a living as a paid photographer, whether you operate as a sole proprietor or as a corporation, extend far beyond replacing a stolen camera. As with any commercial enterprise, a photographer encounters significant risks each and every time customers choose his or her services.

Errors & Omissions Liability

We begin with Errors & Omissions Insurance, which is also called Professional Liability Insurance, because this (often neglected) coverage is becoming more and more necessary for photographers to have. As the name suggests, Errors & Omissions insures the photographer in the event he or she commits an "error" or an "omission" while either out on a shoot or in the studio. Making a mistake with scheduling, losing or damaging memory cards after completing a job, or even taking "compromising" photographs pose a real danger to your pocket book, let alone your hard-earned reputation.

Errors & Omissions insurance does not erase a mistake, but it can certainly soothe the anger and disbelief of a customer. In some cases, as in Package Choice's Hartford policy, Errors & Omissions coverage will pay to completely re-stage an event, complete with tuxedos and fresh flowers, if necessary. The coverage will protect you in court, paying attorney's fees and other legal expenses. But, the coverage does not require legal action before you are insured. The aim of this coverage is to preserve your reputation and salvage the relationship you have with your client, not just to pay damages when a court rules against you.

General or Business Liability

Many building landlords, popular reception halls, golf courses, and even some churches require photographers to carry adequate limits of General Liability Insurance. Imagine the problems arising from someone tripping over a chair in your reception area, falling over a loose electrical chord, or colliding with a lightstand. These occurrences are certainly accidental and even preventable, but medical payment for the sustained bodily injuries is still your legal responsibility.

General Liability Insurance also pays to replace property you might damage that belongs to your client, the reception hall or other member of the general public.

Hired/Non-owned Automobile Liability

If your business is incorporated and you use your own automobile, have employees, or frequently rent automobiles when you travel, this coverage is vitally important. Your employee's routine trip to the photo lab or the bank could have serious financial repercussions for you and your business if your employee causes an accident with his or her own vehicle. Hired/Non-owned Automobile Liability is an easy addition to your Insurance policy, and with a standard limit of $1,000,000 will go far in protecting you against accident victims seeking "deeper pockets." This coverage is secondary and in addition to General Liability Coverage.

Fire Legal Liability

Your high use of electrical cameras and computer equipment poses fire danger to your rented studio building. Fire Legal Liability insures the portion of the building you rent in the event that you or your equipment starts a fire. Many policies provide limits of $50,000 or $100,000; however, Package Choice provides a standard policy limit of $300,000.

Camera Insurance

Covering your valuable cameras, lenses, flashes, stands, and other related gear often composes the bulk of your insurance policy costs. Many insurance agents will place you under an Inland Marine policy, requiring that you list each item separately. An Inland Marine policy or Camera Floater is the standard way of insuring equipment, but does contain some inherent pitfalls. Unscheduled equipment (not shown on your list submitted to the insurance company) is often not covered. Inland Marine policies do not cover your studio equipment or other business property unless it is specifically scheduled.

Package Choice introduces a way of insuring your cameras that avoids some of the shortcomings of an Inland Marine Policy. The photographer need not submit a list of equipment to the insurance company. Instead, you determine a blanket limit of coverage by totaling the replacement cost of all your cameras, equipment and other Business Personal Property.

Other Property Coverage

Other important property insurance coverages include Business Income & Extra Expense, Valuable Papers and Records, Computer/Software Insurance, Rented and Borrowed Equipment Coverage, and Owned Building Insurance. Most of these coverages can be automatically provided for in Package Choice.

Workers' Compensation and Employer's Liability

Workplace injuries among photographic employees are not as common or severe as they are in other industries; however, Workers' Compensation Insurance is still a legal requirement even for those engaging in less dangerous occupations. And for good reason. Your employees have a right to paid medical treatment when they are injured, and the employer is liable for payment of medical and wage benefits arising from an injury. You should protect yourself with insurance. The coverage is affordable and makes the studio employee more willing to work.

Workers' Compensation Insurance requirements and provisions vary depending upon your state of domicile. Adding this coverage is easy with Package Choice.

Automobile Liability

Automobile coverage is vitally important. Many photographers choose to insure their automobiles under a personal insurance policy to avoid the sometimes high expense of commercial automobile coverage. This approach can pose problems. Personal insurance carriers determine their prices and coverage according to the nature of your vehicle use. Failure to represent commercial use can challenge coverage. You should always indicate to your agent that you do, indeed, drive your automobile for business purposes. You should also carefully choose your limits to include protection for both your personal and business assets.

Commercial Automobile policies are beneficial because they are designed for commercial business and provide high limits and often can save premium when multiple vehicles are insured under the policy.

Service

A final word should be said with concern to your agent. Insurance agents specialize in a wide range of risks. Your corner or local agent often has good intentions for you, but he still may not be in a position to offer you sound advice or access to the most suitable coverage. In order to understand firmly what kind of insurance a photographer needs, it takes some understanding of your business.

You probably need not speak to your agent throughout the year, unless you encounter a problem, a claim, or the need to make a change to your policy. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident with the agent and insurance carrier, so that when you do need to speak to someone, you are served promptly and efficiently.

Package Choice Insurance

Package Choice is an insurance product designed for photographers and videographers. It includes many of the coverages mentioned in the above article. Some coverages are optional additions in Package Choice and will vary by the insurance carrier with whom coverage is placed. If you would like more information on our program, please email us at packagechoice@hillusher.com or contact us toll free: 866-977-4725. 

To request your quote today, please click the Apply Now! button to complete our online form.  You can complete it in 10 minutes or less.  Get your camera insurance policy including both errors and omissions insurance and general liability insurance today!  We hope you have found this information helpful to you and your photography business.

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Hill & Usher
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