What is the best insurance around? That’s another million dollar question! I just want a photo equipment insurance, it should not be too complicated.
It is not till you read the small letters and you realize that there are so many small things you should be worried about.
How many times I was asked if I have a photo equipment insurance and which one gives the best price. The reality is that, like any other insurances, it really depends on what you need.
How to determine the best Photo Equipment Insurance policy?
The first question you should make to yourself is if you are a professional photographer or an amateur. To most of us a professional photographer is the one making enough money to live without doing another job.
Sure if my primary work is not photography I am not a pro. That is true in everyday life but it may be not true in the Insurance world. If you sell your photos, these may be landscape or fashion, you are making money and the insurance may consider you a pro. Talk clear with the insurance and say clearly if you have any earning, even below $1000. That may save thousands later
If you are not a pro (as being your primary job) and you have already a content insurance you may want to check with your broker if you can include your camera equipment and what is the premium for that. It may be just $10-$20/month more, however be sure it covers all your equipment.
I have built and shared a Google spreadsheet where you can enter the value of all your equipment and determine the total value to cover, based on the type of the gear
If the content insurance is not enough for you or just does not cover your photography equipment, than you need a specialised insurance and there are few in the country.
I live in Australia however I checked also in UK and USA. Based on a quick comparison the British one seems having a better value, but honestly it is really hard to say because the real numbers come out only once you actually start a conversation with the broker.
Most of my work is related to travel photography, I therefore checked if I could just have a travel insurance covering also the equipment. This is actually a good solution if you travel for 4-6 weeks a year. It may become too expensive if you travel most of your time.
There is a final question you should ask yourself. Do I need a liability insurance? If you are a pro (again I mean your primary job) than the answer is yes. Otherwise you just take a risk.
The liability insurance is for both accidents/damages that you can cause as well for damages that people around you can cause to your equipment (this is a tricky position to be because you would expect the other party to pay for it, but that is the dream world)
Ops, I was forgetting about studio photography (I do some of it, but not my primary photography type). The insurance may, or may not, cover it. That’s another thing to investigate
These are the basic questions.
Now let’s drill down to the small letters.
That’s where the insurance choice becomes interesting
The small letters
The small letters are always the most complicated to go through. Here is a list of things you may want to check, a list that I created through the past years based on some painful experience 🙁
- The insurance may cover you up to great value (say 20K) however no single item can go over a small value (say 1K). Avoid this insurance if your single equipment has an higher value (most of the cases I guess)
- You may need to specify every single item. It’s a pain to keep the list updated whenever you buy/sell cameras/lens/laptop etc. If you don’t, the insurance will not pay you in case of stolen item not listed
- The broker may break your insurance in modules. Do you need all of them?
+ Equipment cover -> New or old equipment?
+ Worldwide cover
+ Public liability
+ Studio cover
- Does the insurance covers your Professional photography or only your Amateur side (as we said before, double check this one)
- If you are insured as amateur but you start charging for your work (even $50) you may be not covered any more from that moment on
- Check if there is any excess. Most probably there is and it will drive the cost of your insurance
- If you decide to extend your content insurance to cover also the photographic gear check both excess on portable options (your camera gear) and excess on house content (the equipment that will always stay at home)
- The insurances may cover the equipment differently based on where was the camera (example, if the camera is in the car or at home or in a hotel it may be covered up to a different limit)
- The insurance (and I would say most of the content insurances) may cover you only in your own country and maybe only for a short trip overseas (up to 4 weeks?). Worth to investigate in case you travel quite a bit
- The insurance may not cover photographic equipment left unsupervised in a car, even in a locked boot or locked concealed luggage compartment
- The insurance may not cover photographic equipment checked in and transported in the cargo hold of the carrier. Either take with you the most expensive material or go for another insurance
- If going for a content insurance to cover your camera equipment as well it may be worth investigating if they cover also hired equipment (in case you rent a lens)
- if going for specialized insurance check how much they cover for hired equipment (I usually rent the most expensive equipment as big zoom lenses). It may be a different value than the owned gear
- Does the insurance cover accidental damage?
- Insurances may have a limit on damages caused by fire or water. This is a tricky one if you live in areas with historical flooding problems
Yes there are many things to take care of.
The small letters are so important. Even if not related to photography, I still do remember a problem experienced by many people in Queensland where the insurance did not want to pay the flooding damage because created by the river and not by the sea, a real tricky one, down to interpretation.
What I suggest to do is a comparison table between the insurances. I paste here a sketch of the table you want or feel free to view and download the Google spreadsheet I have built through the years of good, and bad, experiences.
The Google spreadsheet has two sheets. The first one (Gear List) where you list your equipment with serial numbers (basically your photo equipment insurance list). You can select for each gear how important is to include it in the insurance (Need? column).
Photo Equipment Insurance – Coverage and Reviews
The second sheet gives an indicative cost of the photo equipment insurance. Again, this is just an approximate price. You need to do your maths going through the list of insurances in your country. I have listed a few for Australia, UK and USA (one covering also Canada). I stress that I am not affiliated to any of these insurances. The names come from forums that I have been reading and participating through the years.
Down to the point
The Google spreadsheet covers most of the requirements of an insurance. I would love to have your feedback. Is there anything missing? Would you include more requirements or do you know any small letter I missed out. It’s such an hard task to choose the photographic insurance.
There is always that point where you question if the insurance is worth the money. There is no easy answer……till something happens to your gear of course and you will bless the day you decided to ask the broker.
Till you decide, install this free App – Lenstag
When you need to invest money, well, the process may take longer than expected. Guess what…..in the meantime something can happen to your gear, it may get stolen!!
Do you need a solution now? Possibly as cheap as possible?
This free App may help you. It’s called Lenstag.
How does Lenstag work?
You register your equipment including your serial numbers. Once somebody “borrows” your equipment you just need to flag the items as stolen. Few second hand markets are already going through the Lenstag databases to verify if the sold gear is genuine. Also the buyers are getting more aware about Lenstag. This is to say that whenever you buy second had you should check with Lenstag if that is a genuine product. I love the idea, it’s definitely a social way to improve our world.
Does it work?
It does, have a read to Philip Martin story, quite amazing