What is covered by a professional photographer insurance?
Every professional photographer should be covered for the following three areas:
Camera equipment insurance is the most obvious one that covers your camera gear for loss, deft and damage. Home insurance is not likely to cover any tools that are used for business, so it is safest to get insured as soon as you start charging money for your photography work.
You are likely to have over £10K worth of gear with you at a wedding or larger commercial photo shoot. Should the horrible thing happen and it all got stolen from your car or damaged in an accident, you might lose your livelihood in a blink of an eye if you are not insured. Especially if your home or photo studio gets burgled and you lose all the tools of your profession in one go.
Even if you only damage or lose one of your cameras and/or lenses over £1,000 in value, you’d probably still want to be covered for your loss. As an example, I once dropped my backup camera Canon EOS 7D and Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II USM Lens (bought for £2,100) on a stone pavement at a wedding. Both stopped working. (As a side note, the only reason for dropping it was that the camera strap I used at the time failed. I don’t use that brand of strap anymore.) Luckily it was almost the end of the evening and I only had the First Dance left to shoot, which I did with my main camera. It cost me £1,050 to get the backup camera and lens repaired. I was very glad to have an insurance policy and only pay the £200 excess!
When you get an insurance, read the small print very carefully. Many insurers don’t cover the gear left in an unattended car between the hours of 9 pm – 6 am. Not even if the car is locked and any equipment is packed out of sight.
Also check whether your camera insurance covers rented and hired gear. If it does, you don’t need to take an additional insurance when you hire cameras and lenses.
Public Liability Insurance covers you against any claims that members of the public might make in case you have injured them or damaged their property (by mistake, hopefully) while you are working. So these would be cases like when you drop a camera on a child’s toes, or knock off a Qing Vase from its pedestal with your camera bag at the wedding venue and it breaks into a thousand pieces. Or any other property or person you damage in connection to your business activities.
I have had a close call at a wedding where I operated a photo booth in the evening after the first dance. It was a wedding where everyone got extremely drunk, and some people got paralytic. There were people throwing up in the gardens and an ambulance was called to pick up a guest who fell over and broke her nose. You get the picture. Luckily I had a second shooter with me so I assigned him to watch my studio lights – to guard them from being broken in the first place, but also to prevent anyone tripping over them and potentially killing themselves (either by hitting their head on the marble floor, or by laughing).
Professional Indemnity (‘Errors and Omissions’ in the USA)
Professional Indemnity Insurance covers you against allegations that you have provided inadequate services or advice to your clients. If you have made a grave mistake and someone sues you for not getting a photo of their Fist Kiss, this one covers your back. Of course you should also mention in your photography contract that due to unforeseen circumstances, not all requested photographs can be guaranteed to be delivered. That will set the clients’ expectations at the time of signing the contract, to understand that things can’t always be controlled at a wedding. (Read my example of a ‘missed First Kiss’)
Additional insurances to consider
If you have a studio, make sure that the property is insured for commercial use. You may also want to consider taking an income insurance, especially if you are a skier like me who is prone to seeking out the steepest black runs on skiing holidays in the Alps. Not so easy to shoot a wedding in a plaster and crutches.
Please also note:
If you are a member of SWPP or WPPI or any other organisation of professional photographers, you are likely to be able to get a discount for your insurance. Please check with your organisation before getting or renewing your insurance – you may save a considerable amount of money.