The Down and Dirty on Photographers Insurance

Photography equipment is expensive, and regardless of whether we are amateurs or full-time professionals, losing your equipment to theft or damage could be catastrophic. A single event (be it theft, natural disaster, etc.) could completely devastate your business and leave you without means of income to recover the loss. Fortunately, DSLR Video Shooter has recently published a video and article aimed at helping those photographers who currently have uninsured equipment find a plan to protect themselves in case of such an event.

There is a dauntingly broad range of insurance and protection options available to fit your individual needs, be it a camera and a few lenses if you’re a hobbyist, or complete studio protection and liability insurance for full-time professionals. You may want to check out one of our previous articles "Insuring your Photo/Video Business - What to Consider” to get the ideas rolling about various considerations you may want to note while researching which insurance options are best for you. However, if you would like a quick and dirty view on several of the options available to you, DSLR Video Shooter does an excellent job at presenting four major options. The options discussed in the video are:

  1. Home Contents Policy (Around $10/Month) 
  2. Protect Your Bubble ($3.99+/Month)
  3. Photographer Memberships (Around $300/Year)
  4. Insure My Equipment (Around $500/Year)

Each of these options comes with major advantages and disadvantages, and obviously vary greatly in price range. A full list of advantages and disadvantages for each of these options is available here. In addition to basic insurance plans, DSLR Shooter also provides a nice list of tips and resources to protect your equipment aside from purchasing an insurance policy.

We would love to hear about what insurance options you use. Let us know in the comments below what your insurance plan is and if you’re happy with it.

[via DSLR Video Shooter]

Phil V's picture

Philip Vukelich is a portrait photographer and photo assistant based in New York City developing a career in editorial and advertising photography.

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I'm a member of the North American Nature Photographer's Association (NANPA) and I joined primarily because of their insurance, which is through Rand Insurance and ultimately Chubb. It's not super cheap, but less than other offerings and it's true commercial insurance.. I've had one claim - I dropped a lens and needed a $500 repair. I sent them my Canon repair estimate and they overnighted me a check. Also, I'll have to double-check my latest policy, but I'm pretty sure they cover "mysterious disappearance" which many policies exclude, even though it's the primary way most photographers lose/have their gear stolen. That's an important coverage. They do exclude drone use, however, which may be important to many people out there. Overall, I'm satisfied with my insurance and would certainly recommend it to others, especially if the NANPA membership is of value to you as well.

Thanks for your feedback, Ian. I had never considered going that route, but it actually sounds like a pretty good option.

It's worked out pretty well for me and I don't remember how I found it, but at the time it was quite a bit cheaper than the PPA option (NANPA membership is $100/yr) and I really didn't need liability insurance and some of the other stuff that was included. It looks like that has changed since then. The NANPA option is also nice as you get to set your values and you get the full amount if the gear is lost, stolen, or can't be repaired. It also covers rentals (you set the amount, starting at $1,000) and your computer gear as well. You add up your scheduled coverage amounts, a miscellaneous coverage amount ($500), plus the rental coverage amount and then multiply by a rate to get your premium, so it's simple as well.

Hi Ian. Were you able to confirm that they cover ""mysterious disappearance?" It's nonsense how many insurers excluded this coverage considering there's YouTube vids showing how to enter without signs of force by methods like slim jim, clothing hanger or even smartphones for newer autos - not to mention landlord's master key theft is hypothetically possible in an apartment building.

The latest on this option: NANPA charges $100/year for membership, which does not include insurance. If you want insurance, they connect you to Rand Insurance, which charges rates depending on how much equipment you have: on their application they say to multiply your total equipment amount by .0245. So, for $10,000 worth of equipment you will pay $245/year, plus your $100 membership cost.

We're with Hill & Usher Package Choice. They cover our NYC studio premises, provide errors & omissions and advertising coverage, and most importantly - good business liability, which we've supplemented with an umbrella policy for additional protection. The policy also covers rented equipment and rented studio space for our commercial work. It also includes (obviously) all of our gear, but that's the least of my worries. We generally don't file claims for small expenses (sub $2000) as it negatively affects your premiums when you renew. The underwriters don't look fondly on people who file a claim just outside of their deductible every time they drop their camera. I tend to think of insurance as protection for your worst-case-scenario.

All of Fstoppers is insured through Hill and Usher as well. I think we have about $90,000 worth of gear, plus liability, plus something like $60,000 in rental gear (for our workshop) and the cost is about $1000 a year if I remember correctly. We haven't had to use it thankfully but Todd and the gang there have been really great to work with. I can't recommend them enough

I've been trying to get mine through ASMP but they require a 100 year history report of the space my equipment is housed... so its a huge project finding that information especially when my historic society is pretty much out of business who would generally have that information.

I'm in Toronto, Canada, and I've used Front Row when I was an active freelancer, and just about every production I've ever worked on has used them as well. I've never had a claim, but they seem to be the industry standard here.

Have you ever had to file a claim with them? If so how'd it go?

I've got about $16,000 of gear covered through State Farm. Only about $180 per year, no deductible. I am not a full-time professional so this is just general coverage. Also, no claims yet and then even covered my GoPro Hero 4 Black. I had a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver and they didn't cover that unit.

I am look at them now. For property/liability, at first they said the deductible would be $1k. That's nonsense. Now they've told me they can offer a $250 deductible. I'll review the contract and see if it's right for me. One bad things is they exclude earthquakes. That's absurd since I am CA so I might reject it.

I have been shooting wedding videos for about 8 years now. Having insurance has really lifted a weight off my shoulders. I would highly recommend looking into the following sites as they have great information about this subject.

The Entertainment Insurance Broker website reads, "Entertainment Insurance Broker, a subsidiary of Film Emporium Inc." In contacting Film Emporium Inc. they tell me the "Underwritten by Abacus on behalf of North American Specialty."

I look into North American Specialty and discover "Swiss Re Ltd is the parent company," "Abacus is the agent/broker, our general agent who underwrites and manages accounts," and "North American Specialty Insurance Company is the Legal Entity (admitted carrier) for which you would be insured with.'

Any idea why are there so many parties involved?

Searching for film equipment insurance is a pain. Important things to ask about:
-limits of coverage/liability, whether or not a claim pays for total replacement cost or deprecation
-are there any limits on personal use? Confirm that the policy covers equipment used for your business (even if you don't have a business license or tax ID) - renter's often will not cover work-related equipment
-exclusions: especially smartphones, earthquake, flood, accidental or intentional damage by another person, drops & spills, and hard to prove theft incidents such as home/apartment entry by using a stolen key or auto entry with no signs of force such as slim jim, clothing hanger, and smartphones for newer autos. If hard to prove theft incidents are not covered then it may be worth considering security cameras, safes, and other additional theft deterrent methods.
-ask for examples of an approved claim payout and ensure it's even worth it. Is the cost of the insurance around $400 with a $500 deductible? Then it would barely cover an item less than or a little more than $1k especially if it's on a per claim basis.

We need to lobby our elected officials more to stop insurance companies from offering such lousy deals. If anyone is interested in collaborating with me on this please contact me - same username as here at gmail.

Great info in this video - thank you, F Stoppers and Caleb Pike. Not sure how many people are still watching this but FYI that the Protect Your Bubble insurance mentioned in the video is no longer available to US based customers as of Aug 1 2016:

If anyone happens to find other good options please do post.

The Insure Your Equipment website mentioned in the video also is really only helpful if you have more gear than say a few camera bodies and a few lenses along with basic video equipment like a recorder, shotgun, mic etc. And for people looking for insurance on their gear while traveling the deductible is $2,500 when you are traveling which, depending on how much gear you take, may not be worth it. Plus the policy premium is around 500 dollars minimum. So not a good policy for those in that gray area of having enough gear that you sort of straddle these personal plans vs. professional plans. helped me. Maybe they can help you other photographers/videographers...

Photographers May Face Lawsuits From Dissatisfied Clients Due To Accusations Of Negligence. Protect Your Business With Customized Insurance From Hiscox. Compare Multiple Public Liability Insurance Quotes From Leading Insurers, Built For Self-employed Photographers Or Small Businesses. Photographers Insurance. Public Liability Insurance Designed Specifically For The Needs Of Photographers. Including Equipment And Studio Cover. Online Quotes. Great Post. Thank You So Much For Sharing This Information. Very Useful In Future.

Protect Your Bubble is no longer offered in the USA

Athos Insurance has a photography equipment policy. It was very reasonable and quick.