A Cautionary Tale: How Sewage Destroyed a Photographer's Equipment

Camera equipment can be a dangerous combination of fragile and expensive, and when things go wrong, the bills can add up very quickly. This cautionary tale is a great reminder of why it's important to ensure your equipment is not only safe, but that you have proper insurance.

This tale comes from Jessica Kobeissi, who experienced the massively unfortunate event of having sewage back up into her basement, where her camera gear happened to be, ruining almost all of it. While that's obviously a terrible enough situation, the kicker was that her insurance wouldn't cover the damage (Kobeissi says she had the wrong type of insurance). Of course, it's important that you insure your equipment. I'm personally so obsessive about it that no matter how excited I am about a new lens, I won't shoot with it until it's on my policy, because knowing my clumsiness, I'll drop it and break it that one time I think it's ok. But it's just as important to note that homeowner's insurance will typically not cover any equipment that's used for business purposes, so if you use your equipment professionally, be sure to get a separate policy. I personally use Hill and Usher, but whomever you decide to go with, just make sure that your expensive equipment is protected in case of a disaster. 

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If you are in the United States, the best first step is to join PPA, where you will get your first $15,000 of gear covered as part of your membership. You have to opt in, but other than that, it's done.

PPA is a good deal, but still not very good insurance or what most photographers might expect. 10% depreciation/yr for how old each gear piece, up to 40%. Then your gear is only covered in very limited situations. What most need is the extended coverage which costs quite a bit more on top of PPA membership. All depends on how much risk you want to take.

Frank Withers's picture

agreed, Tim, the PPA insurance is a joke...

Ado Avdic's picture

Fstoppers readers are from all over the world. When you recommend a insurance, maybe you should explain it's for US, UK, Australian etc readers only.

Excellent point that I hadn't even considered. I updated my comment to reflect it. Thanks.

JetCity Ninja's picture

the basement is an excellent place to store your cameras and lenses. mold doesnt grow in dark, damp places, ensuring your gear is totally safe.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Not all basements are dark and damp, ours is finished so it's dry and very comfortable. However, expensive and important things, like cameras etc. should be kept high up, at least 3 feet above ground.

I think she lacks some basics like common sense. I'm impressed by her channel though. props.

Alex Cooke's picture

Piggybacking off Motti Bembaron, she lives in her basement, so it's probably finished, and the camera bag was on a high cabinet.

vik .'s picture

why not pelican cases?

Jeffrey T's picture

Never worked with pelican cases, but assuming they are waterproof I think they are not ideal for longer storage. Any moisture left in the case when you put your equipment in will be trapped in there.

Maybe in combination with silica gel packets thought ...

Eric Salas's picture

Exactly. People think about the water outside but always forget about the water inside the waterproof case they store things in.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Unless one lives in the tropics, why is do you have water in the case? I have maybe 12 Pelican cases. Cameras, lenses, lights, computers etc. live in those cases...Never had any issue with water in the case.

Eric Salas's picture

Condensation, equipment having water on it, flying on aircraft that have frequent temperature swings, the list could go on.
I have pelican cases too but I also know the limits of them due to what my equipment goes through.

Euron G's picture

Hm, I've asked my insurance guys in two countries (Germany and Thailand, I switch between the two) and they basically all said forget it, it's not worth it or there's none. Maybe someone can recommend one nevertheless? Haven't really looked into it much tbh.

David T's picture

Pöppings? Backed by Generali.

Euron G's picture

Thx, will check.

Doc M's picture

Outside the US look at Lloyd’s of London. I have insured lots of expensive weird things through them for work in combat zones and they were always covered and the prices were very reasonable

Euron G's picture

Thx, will check.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Aaaand queue Jared Polin with the My Gear Vault ad...

Ray Hardy's picture

man that’s shitty.