April 8, 2019


All You Need to Know About Camera Insurance

Photo by Lucas Favre

For professional photographers, camera insurance is just as essential as choosing the right lens to get the proper shot.We explain all you need to know about insuring your camera equipment, answering the most frequently asked questions by photographers:

What does camera insurance cover?

Depending on the insurance company you sign a contract with and the plan you choose, the following losses are typically covered in your camera insurance:

  • Accidental damage (e.g., dropping camera, cracked lenses, spills and liquid submersion)
  • Electrical or mechanical breakdown (after the warranty period)
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Loss of camera
  • Natural disasters, fire, flood
  • Power surge caused by lightning

There can be many variations of the above. Did the accidental damage happen in your studio or while traveling? Was it caused by you or a third party? Let’s see your further options.

What camera insurance does a photographer need?

If you’re a professional photographer, you can think about the following options to have insurance for your camera.

Commercial property insurance

This insurance covers your camera equipment at a specific address that is typically your photo studio or the place you work from when not on the go. If your camera is damaged on the premises, someone steals it or it falls victim to vandalism, commercial property insurance will save the day.

Inland marine insurance

Inland marine insurance simply refers to ‘inland transportation’ insurance. Whereas commercial property insurance binds you to a specific ground, inland marine insurance will be your savior when you travel for work and take your camera with you.

Insurance for second-hand cameras

You can insure second-hand cameras as well even if you don’t have any proof of purchase from the previous owner. Depending on the insurer, you may need to prove your ownership or you can be asked to provide the value of the camera.Whether your camera is second-hand or a few years old, you have two options to agree on here:

  • Replacement value: this pays to replace your camera if damaged or stolen
  • Cash or market value: this pays you the lost/ damaged camera’s current value, not its original price

You should try and aim for insuring your camera for a good replacement value.

camera drone
Photo by David Henrichs

Insurance for rented cameras

You have two options to consider when using a rented lens or camera. First, the rental company likely offers a certain level of protection for their gear. You just have to make sure to understand what is covered under their insurance, mainly: what happens if you lose or in any way damage the rented camera? Your second option is for you to invest in a separate, short-term insurance for the rental. Again, depending on the insurer, prices here can vary based on many factors, such as the region or country where you will use the camera.

Insurance for camera drones

Insuring camera drones and aerial photography is a specific category and usually requires photographers to pay a premium fee as, in technical terms, we’re talking about operating unmanned aircraft for your business purposes. Naturally, this is not your average camera insurance type but if you do this typically risky form of photography, you want to be covered. Being familiar with the general terms and having a clear understanding of the options available for insuring your camera will give you a nice head-start when sitting down with an insurance company. However, be aware that certain categories and plans might be named differently at each provider.

Professional photographers will also need to invest in other types of insurance to protect their business. Read about general photography insurance options here.

Can I use my homeowners insurance for insuring my camera?

Yes, you can, but this option is more suited for hobby and amateur photographers. Most homeowners insurance plans will cover some of the potential damages to your camera (even if you travel), but the range must be specified. Some will pay in case of theft but might not for a ‘wear and tear’ scenario or the depreciation of your camera. This is certainly a limitation for professional photographers.Another factor to consider is that this insurance type is not actually an option if you have a photography business as an LLC — in other words, you cannot mix your personal and business insurance in the same plan.

Do photography associations offer camera insurance?

Many photography associations offer camera insurance as part of their membership. So if you’re a member of any, make sure to get informed about your possibilities, or you may even decide which you want to join depending on their insurance offerings.

The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) for example, will protect all your equipment, including your camera. They will provide insurance up to $15,000 in equipment coverage, $50 flat deductible for equipment repairs, and $350 flat deductible for full replacement of equipment loss.

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) also offers a range of insurance options among its member benefits.

digital camera
Photo by Cody Scott Milewski

How to calculate my camera’s worth for insurance?

Your starting point will be the original receipt of your camera. Needless to say that you have to keep this and your warranty documents as well, right?Some insurance companies will limit how old the receipt can be that they will accept, which is usually a couple of years. If you have purchased your camera before that period, you should gather information on how much that exact model is currently worth in the market. Don’t forget that you may have to count on depreciation as well as the camera’s value will decrease over time.

How much does it cost to insure a camera?

Naturally, there are many factors and scenarios to consider here first, to name a few:

“I solely work in my photography studio.”

Then you likely won’t need inland marine insurance that protects your camera while traveling for a job.

“I will only use this camera drone on one occasion, I don’t need extra insurance for that.”

Perhaps. If it’s a one-time job, you’re probably renting the drone anyway and the company providing it might take care of insurance for you. If that’s not the case or you want to be extra safe, a short-term insurance plan might still be beneficial.

“I have homeowners insurance, so my camera is automatically insured.”

This is a more complex picture. As discussed above, if you’re a professional photographer, you shouldn’t or in fact, cannot be satisfied with this option. You must invest in proper camera insurance. Always consider what is really necessary for insuring your equipment. You don’t want to be negligent but you also don’t have to pay for any extras in your insurance plan you know you’ll never need.

Think about your usual settings as a photographer, learn about the most common terms and options available to you when it comes to insuring your camera (hopefully, this article has already helped you), and know your gear’s value to make sure you get the best deal from the insurance company.

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