What if your camera equipment was stolen today? What if your light stands fell on a bystander knocking them out? What if your hard drive, with all the images from todayâ€™s assignment crashed? Are you and your business protected? How would you recover? Or will you?
While no one enjoys sending premium payments to their insurance
company, the simple truth is that stuff happens in life and in
business. However, knowing that you need insurance for your business â€“
and attempting to determine how much and what kinds you need are two
entirely different things. Here is a basic rundown of some of the areas
you might want to consider:
As a professional photographer your livelihood is very dependent on specialized equipment. How would you be able to make a living if that equipment suddenly was stolen, lost or severely damaged? Can you afford to run down to the local camera store and replace everything?
We strongly recommend that professional photographers carry insurance on everything they use in generating income for their business, including equipment, computers, lights, props and anything else you rely on for your business. When you are looking for equipment insurance there are certain things to keep in mind and important questions to ask. Some key things to consider when shopping:
- Make sure that any policy covers your equipment outside of your studio or place of business. Some policies require a rider and extra payment for â€œoff premisesâ€ coverage.
- Make sure you have international coverage if there is any chance that you will be traveling outside of the country for work. Finding yourself with a busted camera lens when you are on assignment 3000 miles from home is no time to discover that youâ€™re not covered.
- If you are operating out of your home, do not assume that your homeownerâ€™s equipment will cover the loss. Some homeownerâ€™s policies may cover the loss, but when the insurance company learns that your equipment is commercial in nature and used for business purposes you should be prepared for them to deny coverage. Ask questions and make sure that any statements about coverage are in writing and included with the policy.
- Pay attention to how the policy values your equipment. Does the policy provide for replacement value or simply the depreciated value of the destroyed equipment? Look closely for this insurance trap â€“ particularly if you are offered an insurance quote that is much lower than all the others you have obtained.
General Business Liability Insurance
This is a must for anyone in business. Liability insurance covers you for things such as bodily injury or property damage for which you are liable. This might include someone tripping over a cable and breaking an ankle or a light stand collapsing and destroying the priceless antique you were photographing. This type of policy does not generally include professional liability (also known as Errors and Omissions coverage) which concerns delivery of professional services.
In addition to being a good protection for your business, General Business Liability coverage is often required by clients or by facility and location operators. More often than not, these individuals will ask for a â€œCertificate of Liability Insuranceâ€ before ever letting you on the premises or as a prerequisite for bidding on the job. Regardless of who you obtain your business liability insurance from, it is important to make sure you obtain a certificate of insuranceâ€”having this item available on short notice may prove invaluable when bidding on a job.
For more information on Liability Insurance, obtaining a Certificate of Liability Insurance or insurance policies available to PPA members please contact the PPA Service Center at 800.786.6277
Professional Liability Insurance
Often referred to as an â€œerrors and omissionsâ€ or â€œmalpracticeâ€ policy, professional liability protects you from lapses in delivering professional services. In other words, when something beyond your control goes wrong when covering an assignment. These claims can range from images being lost when the film or digital storage media containing the job is accidentally destroyed to clients who decide they are unhappy with the work and are suing to recover damages. Professional liability insurance is generally more expensive than general business liability and under many policies coverage does not begin until the client files a lawsuit. Based on our most recent survey, a professional liability insurance policy for a professional photographer will generally run between $1000 and $1500 per year depending on the size of the deductible and level of coverage.
PPAâ€™s unique Malpractice Protection Program (The Indemnification Trust) acts as your professional liability insurance coverage. More information below.
Loss of Business insurance
This type of coverage is somewhat specialized and getting what you need may take asking careful questions. There is more than one type and it is easy to confuse coverage. Basically this could cover you when something prevents you from working (your injured or disabled) or your business is unable to generate income because of something like a hurricane. Often this kind of coverage can be obtained as part of a â€œbundledâ€ policy.
What Plans Are Available through PPA?
All-Risk Equipment Insurance
Knowing that professional photographers have some special equipment insurance needs, PPA has developed an All-Risk Equipment Insurance Policy to help members with this critical coverage.
The All-Risk Plan covers all risks, any time, and anywhere. Your equipment is covered anywhere in the world so there is no need to pay for a special rider is you will be out of the country. All of your equipment, including lights, cables, computers, can be covered. The deductible is a low $100. In this policy you set the value to your equipment, and you have a chance to revalue it annually. So, as long as you keep the value at replacement cost that is what a claim will be based on. This is a stand alone policy and does not need to be bundled with others.
The All-Risk Plan is the best equipment policy we have ever researched. At press time, the flat rates were an extremely competitive $24 per thousand dollars of coverage up to $15,000. After reaching $15,000 the rate for additional coverage drops to $17.50 per thousand.
General Business Liability Insurance
PPA also offers general business liability coverage at competitive rates. As a special feature of our program, PPA has worked closely with its insurance brokerage to ensure rapid response to Certificate of Liability requests from members covered by the PPA General Business Liability Policy.
Professional Liability Trust
This program is not insurance. Instead, PPA has developed a special program to help members facing malpractice situations. Known as the Indemnification Trust, the program takes funds paid annually by participating members and uses them to defray costs associated with incidents of professional negligence.
A key difference between the Trust and traditional malpractice insurance is the threshold for coverage. Most traditional insurance policies only offer help when a lawsuit is filed. In contrast, the PPA Indemnification Trustâ€™s attorneys will work with you and attempt to solve the problem before a suit is ever filed. If it becomes necessary, the Trust will appoint an attorney to represent members in court â€“ the attorney fees and any subsequent judgment are then paid by the Indemnification Trust. The only thing the member owes is a $200 deductible.
The other difference between the Trust and traditional malpractice insurance is the annual cost of coverage â€“ a PPA member only pays $50 over and above the cost of their membership to participate. Please note that the Trust only covers issues professional liability issues in connection with an assignment.
Business Owners Plan â€“the BOP policy
This is a bundled policy that includes equipment insurance, property insurance, loss of business coverage and general business liability. Because the policies are bundled you get an even better discount on the premium.
Regardless of where you choose to obtain your insurance, make sure you ask questions and get clear answers on what a policy covers before you buy. To help save you time and frustration PPA has shopped the insurance market and worked with companies to develop policies to cover your special needs as a professional photographer. For more information on PPA insurance plans log onto www.ppa.com and look in the Memberâ€™s Only Business Services area or call the PPA Service Center at 800.786.6277.