This post is going to be my little PSA for all photographers out there. Whether you consider yourself a professional or not, whether you have a ton of equipment or just a body and a lens or two, please, for the love of all images, get yourself insured!!!
This friendly PSA comes from experience. Several years ago there was around a dozen photographers in my area that experienced break ins where nothing was taken except their photo equipment. I was one of them. After coming home from a conference where Canon had cleaned all my equipment, I had dropped my bag not far from the front door. It’s a heavy bag and we have about a million stairs from the front door to the main living area and since I had a shoot the next day and I knew everything was sparkling clean and in order I just left it down there to grab on my way out. Well the next day came and I asked my husband if he had put my bag in the car already (like he does sometimes) and he said no. I thought it was weird and thought maybe in my exhausted state from traveling I did actually bring it upstairs. Nope. And I begin to panic. It was gone. We have an alarm system. We lock our doors. But maybe, being weary from travel, I forgot to lock the door behind me. I don’t know exactly what or how it happened, all I know is that the bag was there and then it wasn’t. Two Canon Mark ii bodies, a 70-200 2.8L, 24-105L, 50mm, my macro, 17-40L, batteries, cards, two 580exii flashes, everything. I think all in all the total ended up being close to $20k in stuff that was just gone. Thankfully, the community here is awesome and several people loaned me what I needed for the shoot that day, but what I was more thankful for was my insurance. We contacted them that day. They had all my equipment listed with model & serial numbers and within a week I had a huge box from B&H with every single piece of equipment I had lost, and I had only paid a $500 deductible. I would have NEVER been able to replace all of those things without completely financially ruining me without having an insurance policy at that time. I did also call Canon Professional Services and they put a flag on my account and all the serial numbers listed so that if they ever received that piece of equipment they’d know it was stolen. However, nothing has ever come of it.
While the exact type of policy you get is a personal choice, I beg you to look into your options (there are many)! As a Professional Photographers of America member, I’ve taken advantage of the free coverage the offer to members and then piggy backed an equipment policy and liability policy on top of it for extra coverage. In the past, before turning pro, I’ve covered my equipment with an extra rider on my renter’s and then homeowner’s policy. Do your homework. Talk to the agent you already have for other insurances. Chances are their company can at least offer you a quote, or if they can’t, they can tell you what kind of policy you need to go looking for. Look for plans that are going to either replace the entire piece of equipment or offer you the most amount possible (not just the depreciated “value” which we all know is totally bogus and won’t cover a new camera should it come to that). Also, remember to consider the deductible. If the deductible is high, around $5,000, it may not make sense if you need to replace an $1800 lens and a $2500 body, but that’s still a rough chunk of change to fork over. Personally, I’d rather have a $500 or $1000 deductible knowing the considerable expense even “inexpensive” photography equipment can be.
If you are a working professional, I strongly urge you to be fully professional and ensure you have some sort of liability coverage as well. You never know what could happen on a shoot and if a venue or client is going to try and blame you. Being set up as a Limited Liability Company isn’t enough if you’re facing a lawsuit and don’t want to have to shut down and lose your business. Be smart. I’ve found my liability coverage was way less expensive than I thought it would be and it gives me peace of mind. Also, as a wedding photographer, many venues (especially historic ones) actually require their couple’s vendors to provide proof of liability in case they should damage the property during the day.