Photography Business Insurance – Introduction

Photography Business insurance is a critical element that keeps your business safe, and protects you from risk if something unforeseen happens.

This article outlines all of the parts of this insurance that you should consider based on your own type of photography business.

This will assist you to make the right choices of the types, size, cost and value of the policies you buy.

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All businesses and individuals selling products and services require basic insurance covers such as public liability and third party damage.

Photography Business Insurance

In addition, photography businesses and freelance photographers have some special needs for insurance cover especially catering for the types of activity.

For your kind of business, cover against theft of your valuable photography equipment, and accidental damage at home or on a shoot is vital.

Without such cover, your business could grind to a complete halt unless you have enough money to go out and immediately replace all of the stuff that was lost, stolen, or damaged.

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In the rest of this article, we describe in greater detail what you should be looking for to completely cover your photography business against risk, along with the likely costs, the different options you may need for special activity and liability, and show you how important it is to be properly insured.

What is Photography Business insurance?

For all businesses and freelance photographers, some insurance cover is essential and may even be required by law to operate as a registered company. The most important of these are:

  • Public Liability insurance – covers you for accidental injury to someone or damage to their property.
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance/Professional Liability insurance/Errors & Omission insurance – covers against claims for damages if you’ve made a mistake in your work or provided a service that didn’t meet the expected standards.

Other forms may be required depending on the nature of your business, such as:

  • Employers’ liability insurance – necessary if you have employees and one of them is involved in an accident or mistake while on the job.
  • Portable equipment insurance – to insure your photography equipment while you’re working.
  • Stock insurance – covering materials you’ve been entrusted with by your customers.
  • Business and office equipment insurance – covering your business equipment if it’s lost, damaged or stolen.
  • Legal expenses insurance – in case of some dispute with your landlord, business service supplier or agent.
  • Personal accident insurance – in case you or anyone you’re working with is hurt in an accident while at work.

We will describe these in more detail later in the article.

Since the nature of photography business can change depending on the customer demand, it is worthwhile investigating whether short-term insurance is available for specific types of activity.

For example, if your normal photography clientele is studio-based family and child photography,  you would not have thought it worthwhile to take out coverage for personal accidents.

But say you are asked by one of your regular customers to do an outdoor shoot for a rough-terrain race. In this case, a short-term accident policy covering the period of the shoot may be a good idea. Your insurance agent or broker should be able to find you such coverage.

The same sort of thing could be done for a day, a week or a month, depending on the duration of the shoot.

Similarly, if you undertake a long-term filming project, you may hire some employees for the duration of the shoot. In this case, taking out Employers Liability insurance is necessary.

What does Photography Business insurance cover?

Like all other businesses, basic insurance is needed to cover against accidents, theft, property damage, public liability, employee health, and other commercial operations activities. In addition, photography businesses must take special cover for the unique aspects of the business, such as protection in case of errors or omissions in professional business conduct.

Your work and your professional conduct are important parts of your business. Insurance against claims when you are accused of some breach in relating to professional conduct is known differently in different parts of the world.

In the UK, it generally is called Professional Indemnity insurance. In Europe, it’s called Professional Liability insurance, and in the USA, it’s called Errors & Omission insurance (E&O). Errors in delivering professional services and products can give rise to legal claims without causing any of the specific types of harm covered by Public Liability policies.

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Common claims that they cover are for violation, misrepresentation, negligence of fair dealing, good faith, and inaccurate advice. In the case of a photography business, failure to produce a satisfactory result after a shoot may cause financial losses – for example, in a case where an advertising campaign has been scheduled but the required images are not ready in time or are improper.

Any resultant claim for damages would be covered as long as your business has a valid and current E&O or professional indemnity policy.

These liability insurance policies are generally set up based on a claims-made basis, arising from any claim or claims made due to error, omission or negligent act committed in the conduct of the insured’s professional business. Such coverage is enumerated explicitly in the policy and does not include criminal prosecution or civil liability.

Some examples of businesses that should have Photography Business insurance

The following is a list of the most popular kinds of photography businesses with some indication of the special insurances that are appropriate for their special types of operations in addition to the basics for public liability :

  1. Fashion Photographer – professional liability
  2. Landscape Photographer
  3. Wildlife Photographer – personal injury
  4. Aerial Photographer – equipment insurance
  5. Action / sports photographer – professional liability / equipment / personal injury
  6. Pet Photographer – personal liability / personal injury
  7. Event Photographer – professional liability / equipment
  8. Real Estate and Architecture Photographer
  9. Astrophotographer
  10. Photojournalist – professional liability / equipment / personal injury
  11. Concert Photographer – professional liability / equipment
  12. Macro Photographer
  13. Medical Photographer – professional liability /equipment
  14. Micro Photographer
  15. School Photographer – professional liability / equipment
  16. Baby Photographer – professional liability /equipment
  17. Family Photographer
  18. Satellite Photographer
  19. Scientific Photographer
  20. Food Photographer
  21. Vehicle Photographer
  22. Travel Photographer – professional liability /equipment / personal injury
  23. Street Photographer – professional liability / equipment / personal injury
  24. Nude Photographer – professional liability
  25. Advertising Photographer – professional liability
  26. Stock Photographer
  27. Wedding Photographer – professional liability / equipment / personal injury
  28. Equine Photographer
  29. Paparazzi – professional liability

Different types of Photography Business insurance

To start, it is important to understand the differences between Public Liability insurance and Professional Indemnity insurance (also known as Errors & Omission insurance). These are the essential covers that professional photography businesses need to cover against compensation claims.

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance is the most important because you are working in the public domain, where injury to people or damage to property can occur by accident. For example, when on-location for a shoot, someone passing by could trip over one of your camera cables and require treatment or even hospitalization.

Public liability insurance covers costs that may incur, including legal fees in the event of a court case.

Professional indemnity/E&O insurance

Professional indemnity/E&O insurance is essential in that it protects in cases where claims are made by customers when you or an employee makes some professional mistakes or negligent act. For photographers, some events can cause irreparable damage resulting in financial and reputational damage.

One example would be where after completing a wedding shoot,  your SD card corrupts, or your camera is stolen, and you lose all the photos that you’ve taken. Obviously, it is impossible to recover these photographs or restage the unique event.

The customers could sue for compensation. Having professional indemnity insurance covers you against the claim for compensation and other damages.

Another possible cause for claims against you may be where you have shared images that were private – like posting an intimate photo of a customer onto the public domain such as your business’ Facebook page by accident.

Employers’ liability insurance

Employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement if you have any staff, including students and trainees. This could mean lighting or sound crews who may suffer injury or health damage while on the job.

The insurance can cover medical bills or treatments as well as legal costs. However, if they are independent contractors, they must have their own insurance in this case.

Portable equipment insurance

Portable equipment insurance is necessary if you frequently do photographing outside of your own premises. Replacing equipment in case of accidental damage, loss or theft can add up to a substantial amount.

Stock insurance

Stock insurance covers you for work when your customer has entrusted you with material for a shoot. One example is if you are doing a fashion shoot and you need to prepare backgrounds, dummies, and accessories to match the actual material you are shooting.

This material from the customer could be extremely expensive, such as high-fashion clothing, jewelry, electronic equipment, etc. While this material is under your roof, you are entirely responsible for it. If it’s damaged or stolen, you could be held responsible and have to pay out thousands of dollars.

Business and office equipment insurance

Business and office equipment insurance – covering your business equipment if it’s lost, damaged, or stolen. In cases where your photography business is highly dependent on sophisticated digital processing, with the necessary computers, printers, servers, and all the other specialized and expensive devices, your standard office insurance may not cover this.

Either you should increase the cover of this policy – and make sure that there are no clauses that exclude equipment like this, or else you can take out specific policies for this equipment. Get advice from experts to make sure you are getting the right cover because losses could be substantial.

Legal expenses insurance

Legal expenses insurance would probably be a necessary policy for photography businesses that do a lot of contract work for agencies and studios. The nature of photography is that the customer can dispute the value of your work on a subjective basis, and in such a case, the dispute could easily blow up into a court case, with substantial legal costs.

Personal accident insurance

Personal accident insurance should be taken out when you work in unusually dangerous or hazardous places.

Typically, working in your own studio where everything is familiar is unlikely to result in a major injury to you or your staff.

However, going out on an external shoot on a building site, for example, or at a bullfight, introduces a whole new level of risk, and you should either have permanent insurance or take out short-term cover for the duration of the shoot.

What are the limits on coverage by Photography Business insurance

The limits on policies are usually set according to the premium levels you have committed to – the more cover, the higher the premium. In general terms, you should take enough cover to account for a ‘catastrophic event’.

Public Liability

Most small businesses take public liability insurance for $1 million maximum for a single such event, and a total of $2 million of all claims in one year.

Professional Indemnity

For professional indemnity insurance, the best move is to consider a “worst-case scenario” of any claim you might face, together with amounts you might need to pay in legal fees. Obviously, you know best based on your own experience in the business. Most small photography businesses take $25,000 single-claim cover, with a total $50,000 for all claims in a single year.

Equipment

You should carefully think about how much cover you need for your equipment. If an emergency requires you to replace your cameras at short notice, don’t base your level of cover on a “best-buy” estimate because you may have to pay top-dollar to get the right stuff immediately.

You should add the value of all of your essential cameras, lenses, and accessories and at least double that to cover unforeseen items.

Business and Office Equipment

The cost of replacing business and office equipment if it’s lost, damaged, or stolen depends entirely on how much it is to replace. If you have especially rare or unusual equipment, then keep your policy limits updated, otherwise, your cover may fall short of the actual replacement cost.

Legal expenses

Legal expenses can grow out of control in a court case. If your photography business operates in sensitive areas, then consider taking around $20,000 as a minimum.

Personal accident

Personal accident cover for yourself and employees will give you peace of mind. Your cover level should depend on what other health insurance you have and whether your health fund excludes work-related incidents. In that case, you should take a much higher level of personal accident cover.

The average cost of Photography Business insurance

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance for the levels we spoke about before would be around $90 per month, or $1050 for annual payment. In general, additional coverage doesn’t go up in proportion, so a policy giving double that level of cover does not cost double the premium. If you feel that the level of cover is not suitable for you, it’s worth asking around for the best deal on different policies.

Professional indemnity insurance

Professional indemnity insurance will cost based on the level of cover you choose to take out. Most small photography businesses take $25,000 single-claim cover, with a total $50,000 for all claims in a single year. Likely costs are around $15 per month, or $150 per year.

The cost of all of the other types of insurance depend completely on the level of cover. Talk to your agent or broker to get the best deal for the levels you consider necessary based on your own experience.

One factor that affects general costs for business insurance is your claims history. If you have had frequent or large claims in the recent past, then premiums may be bumped up by the company.

professional indemnity insurance for a photographer is very common in the sports and fashion industry.

Is Photography Business insurance worth it? 

The answer to this question is, “can you afford to pay any claims against your business out of your own pocket”? Claims can quickly run into tens of thousands of dollars, and if you’re unlucky, you could end up in court faced with massive legal fees on top of this. Against this, the cost of insurance is minimal. It gives you the benefit of not having to stay up at night worrying about how you will cope if something has gone wrong.

How to save money when buying your Photography Business insurance policy?

Most insurance companies offer discounts if you choose to pay the premium annually. Generally, you can save 5-10% compared to when you pay monthly. As well, some short-term coverage in the case of special risk events can cost you just a few dollars, and they are not recurring.

Tailor your coverage to how your photography business works – you know it best. Also, talk to a good agent or broker who knows the market in your state. This will get you the best options in your own market.

Loyalty to your insurance company is often rewarded. Suppose you can bundle all of your insurance needs into one comprehensive package with one company.

In that case, you should be able to negotiate better rates. Also, staying with the same company over time should also reduce premiums and generally better cover.

For all policies other than Public liability, you can opt to take a deductible, which means that any claim up to an agreed amount comes out of your pocket.

Most companies give substantial discounts when there is a deductible, so you should certainly ask around bearing in mind that the deductible is recurrent – it comes out of your pocket every time there is a claim, so keep it reasonable.

Final thoughts

If you are running a photography business, you are selling products and services. This requires you to protect yourself and your photography business from claims arising from accidents, mistakes, losses, damage and many more possible occurrences.

Basic insurance cover such as public liability and errors & omission are essential. In addition, photography businesses and freelance photographers have some special needs for insurance cover especially catering for their types of activity.

Talk to professional experts to get advice on what you need, and which insurance companies will give you the best deal.

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