When Bad Things Happen In Your Photography Business

Some aspects of the photography business are, (lets face it), rather boring in truth. That doesn’t mean you can ignore them though and in fact you do so at your peril. I’m talking about and important photography business item -  insurance for photographers.

A post by guest blogger JR Robertson from the UK

While this may sound quite boring, if you’re still reading and haven’t wandered off to make a cup of coffee, I’ll talk you through some of the essential types of insurance coverages every photographer should have for their photography business and the reasons why.

Glaringly obvious is of course your photographic equipment insurance. Yes, I know its expensive, but ask yourself the simple question “could I continue working as a photographer if a thief broke into my car and stole every last piece of photo gear from the trunk whilst you were filling up with gas?”

If you don’t think that could happen to you think again.

My friend, British national newspaper freelance photographer Roger Bamber, lost all his entire gear apart from one camera he had on his shoulder when he parked outside the offices of the Observer (a national Sunday paper) in central London while while he went inside to deliver a job.

He recalls the story: “I’d been working in south London in a dodgy area and I thought the dangerous part was over when I drove up to the paper’s offices. I parked right outside their front door. How safe is that? But, I was driving a Range Rover and the car did not have a secure self-contained trunk. You can access it from the main body of the car via a big hefty drop-down flap. I opened the back to get some of my stuff out and locked it all up again. Looking back, I think I was followed by someone who saw me loading my gear into the car after the South London job. They just tagged along in case they could get lucky and they did. I was only in the office for about five minutes when a reporter dashed in and asked if a photographer had a Range Rover outside because he’d seen someone grabbing a camera bag from the back and running off. I shot out and found the back window had been forced open and the flap giving access to the trunk was levered up. I lost a big camera bag full of lenses, a couple of Nikon bodies, all my most useful, everyday working stuff gone.”

The value of his loss?  Thousands of pounds. Worst of all, he wasn’t insured. He had left a staff job to go freelance about a year before and up until then used the newspaper insurance. He never thought about it much but knew he had to get around to it, eventually…. but I didn’t. It was a really bitter pill for him because he was starting up as a freelance and had to re-equip almost from scratch. Thankfully the thief left two really long lenses which he really couldn’t have afforded to replace at the time. Luckily they were probably too bulky to run with.

Another insurance which photographers shouldn’t be without in our increasingly litigious society is liability insurance. Again here let me share a true story. A UK wedding photographer left his camera bag in the aisle of the church he was working in. One of the guests, an elderly lady, didn’t see the bulky bag in the dark interior and tripped over it breaking several bones in the process. She took the photographer to court and the judge ruled that he should pay for ongoing medical treatment-which ran into the thousands of pounds. He didn’t have insurance and lost his house as a result.

Some clients will not even allow you on the premises unless you have a certain amount of liability and/or umbrella insurance coverage. My own liability insurance is coupled to my camera insurance and works out cheaper than two separate policies. Finding the best deal is simple. Shop around and ask other photographers who they insure with to get the best deals. (Note from Beate: Also check out APA’s amazing insurance policies and great prices or use the LinkedIn Group Photography Business to ask this type of photography business question.)

Next on your list is indemnity insurance, which is pretty much a necessity for some sectors of the photography industry- weddings being the obvious one. You could be sued for failure to deliver photographs to a client. Say you accidentally deleted or lost a card containing the images you shot from a wedding. It’s the sort of thing that makes most photographers break out in a cold sweat just at the very thought. Without such indemnity insurance it can become very expensive very fast. Here in the UK an amateur photographer made the news the other day when his coat was stolen and with it the memory card containing all the photographs he had shot of a friend’s wedding. All the couple were left with was a few fuzzy images shot with disposable cameras by the other guests. Imagine the ramifications of such a loss!

Last but not least is sickness (in the US called disability) insurance, and this last one is often rather expensive to purchase. As photographers we often work in situations where there is a risk of personal injury. How would you cope for instance if you broke your arm or leg and couldn’t work for a few weeks? It’s not a very cheerful thought, but worthy of your consideration nonetheless! Check the terms and conditions carefully too. When I got ill myself for two weeks, I discovered that my sickness insurance didn’t cover the first two weeks. Still, I was fortunate because after two weeks my back injury was sorted out and I was able to work again. As a freelance photographer just images if you don’t work you don’t get paid. A month or more of missing income will make a huge difference to your finances.

Bad things do happen unfortunately. With a good insurance in place you can sleep at night and not have to worry about the what’s and if’s. The good news? The money you pay out for insurances in your business is tax deductible!

Comments

  1. says

    Great summary of the importance of insurance. Also, make sure to read the full policy when you receive it - even though it's often many pages. I had previously switched companies, was told all important coverages were the same, but when I received the policy, it wouldn't cover my equipment if stolen from a car unless the car was locked, had alarms, and alarms were activated. (My cars don't have alarms, agent knew that). However, my equipment was covered if it was outside under a tree. After reading the policy, I cancelled immediately and switched back to my previous carrier. (US policy) Thanks for the reminder of all necessary insurance.