Last updated on September 14th, 2018 at 01:19 pm
What is the best travel photography insurance around?
The one that covers all your belonging, in any circumstances, including your laptop, your tablet, your mobile and possibly your drone. This should happen at a reasonable cost.
And when the deal seems too good to be true then you should check the small letters, and that is what I have been investigating in the last few years as I got burnt in the past, but I will not in future (hopefully)
Most importantly, I am not a broker and I do not make money in presenting (not suggesting) one or the other options. I wrote this post about an insurance for Travel Photography based on my past experience.
To avoid bad surprises I have also built a spreadsheet you can open and download for free. I have saved it also as a PDF file in case you want to print it.
It will help to list all of your gear and have straight away an idea of the insurance cost. I have listed also a few insurance companies for a few countries, most notably Australia and USA.
All you read has been updated to this year
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 and if travel photography generates money.
This is probably the most important question before approaching an insurance company.
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 professional photographer.
Talk clear with the insurance company, or the broker, and say plainly if you have any earning, even below $1000. That may save thousands later
If you are a professional photographer the content insurance will not cover your working gear and you will need a photography insurance.
If you are not a professional photographer and you have already a content insurance you may want to check with them 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, even when you travel (this is very important). Check also if there is a limit to the days you can travel.
I can’t stop myself stressing that, even if you believe you are not a pro (as being your primary job) but you sell photos, do report the insurance how much money you made from your photos in the last 12 months, even below $1,000.
This will avoid headaches I read in a few forums.
If the content insurance is not enough for you or it does not cover your photography equipment, then you need a specialised insurance.
If you have plenty of gear, as in my cases, it is better to get a specialised photography insurance that covers travel too.
If this is not your case then you can also buy a travel insurance that covers your gear. It may come cheaper as it includes also other issues that may happen on your trip.
Sometimes this travel insurance is already included in your credit card which is absolutely a bargain, BUT remember to read the small letters (more on this later)
There is a final question you should ask yourself.
Do I need a liability insurance?
If you are a professional photographer (as your primary job) then the answer is yes. Otherwise, you may take the risk (it is your choice).
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 in the dream world.
If you are travelling and someone bumps into you and the camera falls to the floor, do you really expect that this person, or kid, will pay for it? Especially in the third world countries?
If you do not have a liability insurance, you may want to report that the damage was caused by you.
Now let’s drill down to the small letters.
That’s where the insurance choice becomes interesting
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 experiences 🙁
Pay attention that the broker, or the insurer, may break your insurance into modules. Do you need all of them?
I personally do not have any cover for studio work (I never do it)
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/Australia where the insurance did not want to pay the flooding damage because created by the river and not by the sea (it was in the very small letters).
I decided to include this section to give an example of a typical credit card that has a travel insurance and they do claim that they cover also photography gear, defined as valuables in a later part of the contract (it’s my credit card by the way).
In fact, they do but check out the small letters:
“What we cover:
If, during your journey, your valuables are stolen, accidentally damaged or are permanently lost (except when left in a motor vehicle or are valuables checked in to be transported in the cargo hold of an aircraft, ship, train, tram or bus) we will pay the lesser of:
> the repair cost or the replacement cost or the amount it would cost us to repair or replace the item(s) <– GREAT
allowing for any trade discounts we are entitled to:
> the original purchase price or the depreciated value after allowing for age, wear and tear <– GOOD
We have the option to repair the valuables instead of paying you <– FANTASTIC
The maximum amount we will pay for any item is: <– NOW IT BECOMES INTERESTING
> $3,000 for personal computers, video recorders or cameras; <– YOU MAY THINK THAT $3,000 FOR A CAMERA IS NOT THAT BAD, BUT WAIT
> $1,000 for mobile phones (including PDAs and any items with phone capabilities); or
> $750 for all other items.
A pair or related set of items, for example (but not limited to):
> a camera, lenses (attached or not), tripod and accessories <– MAYBE NOT THAT GREAT
are considered as only one item for the purpose of this insurance and the appropriate single item limit will be applied.“
So this is telling me that all of my photography gear, including camera, lenses, drone etc is covered up to $3,000.
In my case, it would not work.
But it may work for you, especially if you do not have a drone and you travel with a compact or a mid-size camera and one or two lenses.
Spend a couple of hours reading the contract. This will avoid big headaches later.
I have built a spreadsheet where you can enter the value of all your equipment (sheet “Gear List”) and determine the total value to cover (sheet “Travel Photography Insurance”)
I live in Australia, however, I have investigated also in UK and USA. Based on a quick comparison the British one seems to have 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.
What I suggest to do is a comparison table between the insurances. This is a FREE download, you do not need to leave me your email, phone number or grandpa name. I am not really into “pushing marketing”
If you want to receive similar posts and other free stuff you can always subscribe to the mailing list here. We would never spam and you can unsubscribe whenever you want.
In the first sheet (“Gear List”) you can add 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).
Are you not sure about the gear you should have for your travel photography?
I suggest reading this interesting guide that besides listing equipment (from the minimalists to the adventure travelling) gives also great tips on how to take in your carry-on well over the weight limits.
The second sheet (“Travel photography Insurance”) 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.
The AON Camera Insurance in Australia has been one of the most popular in the last few years.
If you have Canon equipment it may be the solution for you. They offer a customised Canon Policy.
It covers with like for like, in case the gear cannot be repaired. It’s still a bargain although prices have increased by 50% in 2018.
They are very professional and no questions asked. They are actually subsidised by Canon which explains the great price.
If you do not have Canon gear you can still get the well priced Canon Policy, however, the broken gear will be replaced with a Canon branded equipment, which is not very useful if you have another brand.
If this does not work for you then they offer a generic Photography Policy, however, it is more expensive and comparable with other insurances.
The 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 a 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.
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?
Use an on-demand insurance.
You just start the insurance when you need it and you close it once back from the trip, as an example.
The great thing is that it’s less expensive if you are not always on the road and you do not have to commit to a long-term contract.
TROV is one of these on-demand insurances that works for photography equipment as well as other equipment
Are you looking for something very cheap?
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 of Lenstag.
This is to say that whenever you buy second hand 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.
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.