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Insurance for Photographers 101

An introduction to ‘Property’, ‘General Liability’ and ‘Errors & Omissions’ Insurance


Insurance is based on the law of large numbers that states if you have enough repetitions of an event, there will be a certain number of problems that occur.

In the world of photography, this can be likened to the style of saturation shooting that relies on the production of hundreds of negatives or digital images in order to find the one or two shots of highest quality. The assumption is, “If I repeat this shot enough times, surely one or two excellent photos will emerge.” Fate also seems to dish out the bad with the good, and as any photographer knows, if you do something a number of times there will be the occasional “disaster” that needs to be cleaned up before business can proceed as usual. This is where commercial photography insurance can be a big help.


“Risk Management” is a term that is helpful to understand. Once you know the law of large numbers, you can start to figure some of your risks.

Risk Management is the “systematic protection of a company’s or individuals assets through identification and analysis of risk areas (exposures), treating risks by implementing safety, security and other preventative control measures, while predetermining how to finance losses (through insurance or the company’s bank account, for example) if they occur, with the goal in mind of business survivalship.”


When you understand what your insurance risks as a photographer are you can choose to cover your losses by yourself (called “Self-Insurance”) or share the risk with others through a private insurance carrier (called “Commercial Insurance”).

How many times do you take your cameras and equipment out of the studio and transport them by car? How many times are they left in a parked (and hopefully locked) car, but left unattended? How many times are they at a location with you when your back is turned and you are concentrating on composing the right image? Is your assistant always available to watch your gear, or do they get wrapped up in your shoot as well?

These are “property issues” – and unless you shoot with a pinhole camera, you have “property” that is important to generating your livelihood. If you loose a key piece of equipment, you need to replace it to remain effective. Our camera insurance program can be a resource for you.


But there are other risks that you need to manage. Simply stated, “General Liability” risks are of two kinds. The first deals with “injuries” you cause to clients and the second has to do with “damages” you do to other people’s property while you are photographing.

As a photographer you enter into numerous relationships with clients. People make the world go around and sometimes these people enter your place of business for meetings, and sometimes they are subjects who you physically direct in shooting situations.

Can you imagine a child or senior citizen being injured at your studio or while on location? This is a risk you need to manage. Photographers know they need to make their shooting locations as safe as possible. Taping down cords, using stable light stands, putting scrims in front of hot bulbs, designing safe sets for photographing infants and children. These are all good ways to manage risks. But are they enough? How would you pay a medical bill charged to your business? This is where “General Liability” insurance takes over. General Liability Insurance for photographers is most definitely an important part of our plans.


Location photographers also have the risk of damaging other people’s property while they are on a job. While setting up a group shot, furniture gets broken or a light stand tips over knocking down an antique vase – General Liability insurance for photographers to the rescue.

How many people will you enter into business relationships within your career as a photographer? Will they all be “warm-fuzzy” personalities that understand the occasional slip-up? Or will you meet a few “hard to please” types that are familiar with how to capitalize on a mistake to their best advantage?


Contracts are another phase of the photographer’s business, Oral or written contracts are entered into with every job and the client expects “professional results”. The law of large numbers says that 99 times out of 100, you will deliver those expected results. You don’t need to worry about risk management with those 99 good shoots, but you do need to pay attention to the one bad one. How will you make the client happy? Will they be easy going and understanding or will they be demanding?

Veteran photographers know how important it is to please every client.. Most will do a reshoot at their own expense or pay damages that they caused. This is called “self-insurance” and it works well on small jobs where the “damage control payouts” can be absorbed. A better Risk Management strategy is to use “Professional Liability”, sometimes referred to as “Errors and Omissions”, coverage, to finance the costs of re-shooting events that don’t measure up to your client’s expectations.

An added benefit of some “E&O” insurance is coverage for legal defense and court costs if your contract dispute escalates to litigation proportions. Preparing for a courtroom challenge can be costly in both the time and money department – so “Professional Liability” insurance can be big plus at a time like this.

We all know that photographers are a careful breed. They train themselves, select quality equipment, and are knowledgeable in business practices — but we are also aware that things can go wrong in this world as well. Scheduling errors happen, equipment breaks, subjects twist their ankles, and warm friendly clients turn cold and hostile.

The careful photographer knows the importance of Risk Management through Commercial Insurance. Have a quick question about insurance for photographers? You may email us: [email protected] or call us toll free: (866) 977-4725


  1. Exposure – A situation, practice or condition which might lead to a loss; an activity or resource (assets, people)
  2. Peril – A “cause” of loss; an event which may be the cause of a loss
  3. Hazard – A condition within an exposure that may lead to an incident; “a peril about to happen.”
  4. Incident – An event that disrupts normal activities and may become a loss or claim; “a near miss.” Lifecycle of an incident: pre-incident, incident, immediate post-incident, post-incident, rehabilitation (repair, recovery)
  5. Accident – An incident resulting in injury or damage to person or property which has or will become a loss! claim; “an unplanned event definite as to time and place that causes bodily injury or property damage”
  6. Occurrence – An accident with the limitation of time removed
  7. Loss versus Claim
  8. Loss: a reduction in value
  9. Claim: a demand or obligation for payment as a result of a loss
  10. Frequency – the number of times an incident occur
  11. Severity – the monetary impact of a loss
  12. Property Insurance – Coverage for a business’s valuable property including desks, chairs, and studio equipment
  13. Camera Equipment Insurance (Camera or Commercial Articles Floater) – a type of property insurance covering cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, cases and other property taken by the photographer on location. This coverage ordinarily requires the insured to schedule or list equipment with the insurance carrier
  14. General Liability Insurance – A common policy purchased by business owners protecting the insured from claims or lawsuits filed by outside parties who allege bodily injuries or other types of damage
  15. Errors & Omissions – Similar to medical malpractice coverage for doctors, this coverage protects the photographer for lawsuits arising from the quality of his or her work

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