As your passion for digital photography grows and your skills advance, you are likely to follow the same equipment path as many photographers: a compact camera as a beginner; an entry-level DSLR or one of the Micro Fourth Thirds, interchangeable lens cameras has you become more experienced; and eventually a mid-range DSLR for the serious enthusiast or even a professional-grade DSLR if photography becomes a career.
You don’t want to travel this path very far without considering the appropriate camera insurance to protect your investment. It’s easier to choose the right type of insurance if you match it to how you use your camera.
As a beginner digital photographer with a compact, or point-of-shoot, camera, you would only use it to take pictures of family members, family events and vacations and fun with your friends. Such cameras are typically priced from as little as $100 (or even less) or a few hundred dollars.
This, and similar, photography equipment is likely to be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy; however, your policy won’t cover all incidences. Loss due to theft and fire would be covered, even outside your home, but damaged caused by an accident typically isn’t. Remember, your homeowners or renters policy includes a deductible, so make sure you understand how much you will have to spend to replace your equipment before the insurance company kicks in a share. If the value of your compact camera is $200, and the deductible on your policy is $500, then you won’t be receiving any money from the insurance company.
If you use your camera strictly for personal photography, then another option is an all-risk floater. This is a good idea if have deep pockets and you’ve spent hundreds, even thousands, on high quality equipment, but never use it professionally. It’s an addition to your homeowners or renters policy that lists specific equipment to be insured. The all-risk floater provides comprehensive coverage for almost all incidences, including accidents, except the standard ones in most policies, such as acts of war, etc.
Typically, the insurance company providing an all-risk floater will ask you to prepare a list of your equipment and each piece’s market value/replacement cost. This is an important distinction because market value/replacement cost is defined as the how much your camera is worth today, considering its age and condition, not to replace a used camera with a new one.
If you’re a full-time professional photography with a commercial photography business, then you’re apt to have thousands of dollars invested in your equipment. In this case, you need what is called a commercial inland marine policy. It will cover any incidences affecting your equipment and typically has no exclusions if the theft, damage, etc. occurred during a professional use. Often, you can add liability coverage to a commercial inland marine policy to protect you from any injuries someone may suffer because he or she is burned by a hot light or is bumped in the head by equipment your assistant is carrying to and from a location.
If you can describe yourself as a semi-professional, which is a photographer that receives some income from the use of his or her camera, then a commercial policy is still your best protection. You may have a regular day job or profession, but shoot a few weddings during the year. In that case, it’s likely you’ll have invested a significant amount in your equipment. The value of your equipment and exactly how much side income you receive will dictate the cost of a commercial policy, but expect it to have a higher premium than a personal policy.
An important reminder is that whenever an insurance agent/company asks you to describe how you use your camera and prepare a list of equipment to be covered, you must provide full disclosure, which means being totally honest. Providing false or incorrect information could result in not being offered coverage initially; or if the insurance company grants coverage, then any claim you make in the future may be disqualified.
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