What We’ll Cover
The purpose of this guide is to provide detailed descriptions and explanations of the business insurance policies professional and freelance photographers should consider putting in place to properly protect their photography business. Feel free to use the links below to jump ahead to any specific policies you’d like to learn more about.
- Photographer Professional Liability Insurance
- Commercial Auto Liability Insurance
- Business Property Insurance
- “Property Extension” Endoresment
- “Property of Others” Endorsement
The key to an effective and successful photographer insurance strategy begins with a solid foundation of protection. Like any other company, professional and freelance photographers should all have either a general liability insurance policy or a business owner’s policy in place before they start exploring more specialized lines of coverage like property extension insurance or photographer errors and omissions insurance. If you run a photography business and don’t currently have any insurance in place, a business owner’s policy, or BOP as they’re commonly referred, is a great place to start. This ideal “starter” policy is an affordable bundle with minimal underwriting that usually contains general liability, commercial auto liability, and basic property coverage.
Photographer Professional Liability Insurance
Also known as errors and omissions insurance, photographer professional liability insurance protects against threats like lawsuits by paying for costs including attorney fees, judgments, and settlements. You might think that photographers aren’t susceptible to lawsuits, but there are a number of potential scenarios when a photographer might be sued by a client.
For example, imagine a wedding photographer’s memory card getting damaged or stolen before they were able to backup the photos from the wedding they just shot. This once in a lifetime event cannot be recreated and it’s not unreasonable to assume that the happy couple might sue the photographer for loss of their wedding photos. Or, perhaps a family photographer gets in a car accident that damages a memory card on the way back from shooting a generational photo that included family members who traveled from across the country for the session. Understandably, there will be costs associated with reshooting the family and the photographer will be expected to cover those costs.
In the two scenarios described above, the professional liability policy will respond and protect the photographer from coming out of pocket to cover the costs of these uncontrollable events. Specifically, this policy covers a range of items including:
- Expenses for Reshooting Because of Lost, Stolen or Damaged Memory Cards
- Expenses for Defending and Settling Lawsuits
- Court Fees and Costs for Defending and Settling Lawsuits
Commercial Auto Liability Insurance
If you’re not a studio photographer, then chances are you spend a fair amount of time in your car. Wedding photographers drive to and from event venues. Family photographers drive to and from unique outdoor shooting locations. If you’re a photographer who uses a personal vehicle for business, then the liability exposure while you’re driving to or from a photography session extends to your company. Hired and non-owned automobile insurance is an inexpensive policy that can provide an additional $1,000,000+ of protection in the event you are involved in a car accident while on your way to or from a shoot.
Business Property Insurance
Let’s face it, photography is expensive and professional photographers acquire valuable equipment over time. Just a few bodies and lenses can easily be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Add in the cost of lighting and your computers and it’s not uncommon for an established photography company to have more than $50,000 in business personal property that they depend on day in and day out to operate. Even freelance photographers will end up with thousands of dollars worth of equipment and personal insurance like homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t cover theft or damage to property that is used for business purposes.
Business property insurance is an easy, affordable, and scalable policy to put in place and, given how important a photographer’s equipment is to their livelihood, one that photographer’s of all sizes should invest in.
“Property Extension” Endorsement
Insurance endorsements, or riders, are unique alterations to a specific insurance policy that modify the terms and conditions of coverage on the policy to which they are added.
A “property extension” endorsement is an often overlooked but extremely important modification that applies to property insurance policies and one that photographers, in particular, should consider. The typical business property policy will only provide coverage for your equipment while it is located at your primary physical place of business; this could be a studio, office, or your home. This may suffice for studio-based photography businesses but for photographers who travel to different locations, their equipment is left unprotected. So make sure your business property policy includes a “property extension” endorsement or rider that extends coverage for the property while it is off premises.
“Property of Others” Endorsement
Another rider that photographers should consider having added to their business property policy is the “property of others” endorsement. Imagine you secure a big contract that requires several very specific and expensive camera lenses for you to complete the job. No problem, you head down to your favorite camera rental shop and rent $10,000 worth of lenses for a few hundred dollars. Just like renting a car, the rental agreement will explicitly state that you are responsible for any theft or damage to those lenses while they are in your possession. However, your property insurance policy only insures the equipment you own and doesn’t extend coverage to the lenses you rented. This is where the “property of others” endorsement comes into play; if any camera equipment you or your company rents is stolen or damaged, your property policy will respond as though it was your own property.