1. If you’re operating a photography business of any size or may be planning to start one in the future, then specific insurance coverage is critical to protecting your equipment, business, personal assets and future success.
2. You can start the process of determining exactly what kind and amount of coverage you need by writing a short profile of your photography business. The profile should describe the types of photography you are doing, the locations where you do it, the types of customers you serve, any employees, etc.
Another part of this process is to create a document that lists all the equipment you want covered and each item’s value. Make your equipment list very specific, with the full name of the equipment and the serial number. Include the date you bought it and the purchase price. Better yet, attach copies of the receipts to the document. You must also decide if you want replacement value, or the current value of the equipment, or new equipment value, which means replacing your older equipment with the latest models.
3. Once you’ve completed these documents, you’ll be better prepared to discuss your insurance needs with an agent or company. It may seem obvious that your first choice is to speak with the company that already covers your home or car.
A better approach, however, is to contact an insurance company that specialize in policies for photographers and/or photography businesses. They know the business, and will understand the information you provide on the documents recommended above. They have the experience to recommend the exact coverage you need.
4. One of these insurance companies is Package Choice, which also serves videographers and graphics and Web designers. Because it knows the photography business so well, Package Choice will ask the detailed questions to determine which of the following policies you should have.
5. The first coverage Package Choice will recommend is known as Errors & Omissions Liability, or Professional Liability. This protects you from any mistake you might make during a shoot, such as missing the scheduled date or time of an assignment or losing memory cards with your client’s images.
6. Another essential kind of coverage is General or Business Liability. This protects you from any accidents that may occur in your studio or a home studio and also satisfies the requirements of the owner of any location where you are shooting, such as an office building, church, reception hall, golf course, etc.
7. Package Choice will ask you about automobile usage, in the event Hired/Non-owned Automobile Liability is required. This type of liability insurance covers you and any employees who use their vehicles or rent them for company business. It doesn’t replace their standard automobile insurance, but provides an extra layer of protection if a claimant decides to sue you and your business too.
8. An excellent example of how well Package Choice understands your business is its Fire Legal Liability. It provides 3 to 6 times the coverage of typical policies. Fire Legal Liability is specifically aimed at fires caused by electrical photography and computer equipment in a space rented for your business and/or studio.
9. Obviously, you will want insurance to cover all of your photography equipment; and, once again, Package Choice proves it knows your business by offering an alternative to the typical Inland Marine policy that a general insurance company might recommend. This kind of policy will often not cover any equipment you forget to put on your list of what you want insured.
Although a complete list of your equipment and each piece’s value is still a good idea, Package Choice’s alternative makes this unnecessary for insurance purposes. Instead, its representative will help you determine a total value, or blanket limit, to replace all your equipment.
10. When you provide Package Choice with a comprehensive description of your photography business, it will be able to decide if you need other types of coverage, such as Business Income & Extra Expense, Valuable Papers and Records, Computer/Software Insurance, Rented and Borrowed Equipment Coverage and Owned Building Insurance.
11. The people at Package Choice will also explain the importance, and often your state’s requirement for Workers’ Compensation, and Employer's Liability. You’re more likely to hire and retain the best employees, who will remain loyal and hardworking, if they know they are covered in case of any accident that occurs on the job.
12. Package Choice will make you aware of the limits of your regular automobile insurance when you use your vehicle for business purposes. If you don’t tell the carrier that you do so, then it may not pay for claims related to operating your business. Although commercial automobile coverage can be more expensive than personal automobile coverage, Package Choice will show you affordable alternatives that will give you the right level of protection.
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