Photography Insurance: A Macro View

Photographer with photography insurance is capturing a shot

Photography may seem like it’s all fun and games and camera gear. You might even be wondering: Do I need insurance as a photographer? But even this trade comes with its own innate risks, potentially leaving the door open for professional catastrophe. Let this story be a cautionary tale.

My friend Joe agreed to photograph his cousin’s wedding as a favor. He wasn’t a professional but was an avid enthusiast with some film camera training under his belt. He knew his way around his own film camera and how to capture important moments well. That is, until his cousin insisted he use her new film camera. Blindsided, Joe could only hope that the film he was shooting would turn out OK.

It didn’t. With no time to prepare, the unfamiliar camera thwarted his efforts. His cousin has never let him live this disaster down. Fortunately, Joe isn’t a professional. The service was provided for free with no contract, so the newlyweds had no grounds to retaliate.

But professional photographers know that small mishaps can lead to heartbreak. And without insurance, they can put your career at risk. Not sure where to start searching for photography insurance options? Look no further. We’ve rounded up recommendations on the types of coverage we think photographers should consider when shopping for insurance.

Reasons to Insure a Photography Business

“Why should photographers have insurance just to snap a few pics?”

Just about every photographer has likely been forced to hear their line of work oversimplified by people who wouldn’t know an f-stop from a bus stop. Photography is often perceived as a soft skill, particularly with the rise of camera phones. It’s easy for the layperson to forget that taking high-quality photos takes tremendous skill and talent — and involves taking a lot of risks.

A client can file a claim or take legal action against you regardless of whether there’s a tangible reason. Here are just some examples of insurance claims photographer clients might bring on:

  • Sued for equipment malfunction: You’re on a secluded beach for a maternity photoshoot. The lighting equipment malfunctions, but the location is too remote to find a replacement. As a result, the photos don’t come out as intended. The clients aren’t happy and decide to sue you.
  • Legal action due to choice of medium: Do wedding photographers need insurance? Consider this. A client insists that their wedding be shot on film rather than DSLR. The day goes off without a hitch, but a problem with your processing chemicals botches the film exposures. The newlyweds are devastated that they have no photos to remember their nuptials, and they pursue legal action.
  • Bodily injury to a client: A standard family Christmas card photoshoot in your studio goes awry when the client’s son trips over a cable on the floor. He’s pretty banged up, potentially leaving you on the hook for medical expenses.

What Types of Insurance Should a Photographer Consider?

There are lots of things you can do to safeguard your photography business, such as promoting workplace safety and preventing theft by marking your equipment — but no amount of preparation will ever completely rid your job of risks. Business insurance is there to help protect you against the unexpected. So what insurance do photographers need? I’m glad you asked. These are a few types of policies we think photographers should consider.

Inland marine:

Having the latest and greatest cameras, lenses, and gear can elevate your work and help you stand out from the competition. The catch? Photography equipment can be pricey, and transporting it for gigs can put it at risk. That’s why inland marine is one of the best business insurance for photographers to consider. It typically covers:

  • Damage to business property
  • Theft of business property
  • And more

Specifically, it only usually covers these claims if they occurred away from your business premises. Maybe a tripod was damaged in transit to a gig, or your best camera was stolen during a photoshoot in a public park. Inland marine could prevent you from having to pay for replacements or repairs out of pocket.

General liability:

While we recommend equipment insurance for photographers, we also recommend liability coverage. General liability’s versatility makes it a popular choice for many types of businesses, photographers included. It typically covers:

  • Bodily injury to another person caused by the normal operation of your business and their associated medical expenses
  • Third-party property damage caused during the normal course of business
  • Personal and advertising injury

Why do photographers need liability insurance? If a client trips on your equipment during a photoshoot, or you damage an antique you’ve been hired to photograph, or even if you’ve been accused of libelous marketing, a general liability policy could save you from paying out of pocket for damages. Adding contents coverage to your policy could also cover the cost of stolen equipment.

Professional liability:

Mistakes happen, no matter how much experience you have. That’s why we recommend professional liability insurance for photographers. This type of policy generally covers:

  • Omissions or alleged omissions
  • Negligence or alleged negligence
  • Copyright infringement
  • Legal costs

Professional liability may come in handy if your photos don’t turn out due to a camera malfunction, you’re accused of copying someone else’s work, or you accidentally send a client’s photos to the wrong person.

Workers’ compensation:

If you have employees, you may need to customize your photographer insurance selections by adding a workers’ comp policy. This type of insurance typically covers costs related to an employee’s work-related injuries or illness. It can cover:

  • Medical payments
  • Lost wages
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Death benefits to the employee’s family

Simply Business® can help you explore insurance options for your photography business. We’re small business insurance experts committed to offering you choice and value. Our free quote tool allows you to compare quotes from leading national carriers. Just give us a quick snapshot of your photography business, and we’ll have a quote ready in minutes.

Don’t leave your livelihood exposed to unexpected developments. Make sure your photography business is protected.

Remember the Big Picture

Life moves fast. A good photographer moves faster. You have only a short time to perfectly capture fleeting moments your clients want to cherish forever. Not every shot will turn out perfectly, and that’s OK. As long as you have the protection you need.

Kristin Vegh

After several years of working in insurance while also freelance writing, I’ve finally found where the two interests intersect. I’m a writer with Simply Business with an insurance processing background and a love of research.

Kristin writes on a number of topics such as small business trends, license reciprocity, and BOP insurance.