Are You Prepared?
Find It in Your Policy
Keep ALL Debris
Don’t Necessarily Take the First Offer
The FEMA Factor
Additional Preparation Responsibilities
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Most people, including photographers, don’t think about insurance for their gear and photography business, except when they purchase it and when the premiums are due. Otherwise, it supports and protects your business in the background; and you hope nothing ever happens that makes it necessary to file a claim.
Your insurance responsibilities as a photography business owner only start with choosing the right company and policies. You must also know about the claim filing process to prepare you for that eventuality…and the 8 truths in this PhotographyTalk article will do just that.
You can’t prevent all circumstances that may make it necessary to file an insurance claim, but you can be prepared. The proper practical preparations can make the claim process much easier and less stressful, put you back to work quicker and, most importantly, protect you and your employees as best as possible.
Conduct a safety and security audit of your business, so you have an emergency kit ready that includes a first-aid kit, flashlight, candles, etc. Make sure your fire extinguishers are charged and in working order and a sprinkler system if you have one. Ask an expert to check your doors and windows and alarm system. Install or upgrade these security aids, if necessary. Store your photography equipment in a heavy-duty cabinet or highly secured and locked room.
Not reading your photography business and equipment insurance policy IN ADVANCE OF A DISASTER AND CLAIM may cause more harm to your business than the actual disaster or burglary. Many policies, for example, do not cover floods. You must buy a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (which is very affordable). An additional responsibility as the insured is to be totally knowledgeable about what your policy (or policies) cover. You’ll first know if you need supplemental coverage and, secondly, the claim process will be much easier and you’ll know in advance exactly how much of a reimbursement you’re apt to receive. You don’t want to be surprised when your business has been turned upside down.
You’ve had a burglary, a fire, a flood or other damage to your photography business and/or equipment. It’s only natural that you would want to remove damaged or salvageable equipment and materials or any rubble and clean the area. WRONG! As much of a mess you may have on your hands or as bad as you feel, don’t move or clean a thing. Think of it as a crime scene.
Of course, if a water pipe has burst and could potentially cause additional damage to equipment or property, then you would want to cut the water supply immediately. The same holds true for a hole in the roof or an exterior wall. Protect the interior, any contents and evidence of the burglary, fire or natural disaster with a tarp.
Then, call your insurance company ASAP, so its claim adjustor or inspector is able to view and document the scene exactly as you found it. Any costs you may incur to remove damage and clean the area may not be covered in a claim.
As a photographer, you’re just the right person to be on location of damage or burglary. Call your agent first, and then immediately start taking pictures of what you found to document the “evidence” like a CSI photographer. This is particularly important if you must remove damage to protect the rest of the building, equipment and people or to continue working. Sometimes, you have no choice but to move equipment to storage or another location. A door lock may have to be replaced immediately, so you can secure your building before the insurance adjustor arrives. These are all reasons to take many photos, and even video, to make sure you’ll receive a maximum claim.
In the event of a fire or flooding, you may be tempted to have damaged building materials, furniture, etc. hauled from the site. WRONG AGAIN! You may create a bit of an eyesore for a few days, but save it all, document it with pictures as it’s piled outside and then individually photograph and show all the damaged items to your insurance agent.
Yes, your insurance company will ride into your disaster like a good guy on a white horse, but he or she may underestimate how much you should receive for your claim. You have every right to appeal the insurance company’s first offer and request a second inspection and estimate. Of course, you may have a mess on your hands for a few more days or need to rent replacement equipment for a longer period of time, but it’s worth it to receive every dime you think you deserve for your claim.
If a natural disaster has affected your business, then the Federal government may also offer aid and funds to rebuild and reopen. Although FEMA does great work, as a government agency it’s not able to respond quite as fast as your insurance company. Start the insurance claim process first, and then check with the FEMA representative about your qualifications for aid. Of course, if a natural disaster is particularly bad, then FEMA may be your first resource for shelter, food and other necessities you may need immediately.
You’re way ahead of most small business owners if you’ve read your insurance policy well in advance of any reason to make a claim. It’s equally important that you can put your hands on your policy if disaster strikes. Make a copy and keep it where a fire or flood would not damage it. Many policies are now provided in a digital version. Give your attorney, accountant or another trusted person outside your area a copy that you could access quickly. You may be able to store the file on your smartphone. Even more important, be sure your agent’s phone number and other contact information is also in your phone’s contact database.
You’ll have the greatest peace of mind and make the claim process much easier if you insure your photography business and equipment with a company that specializes in your industry…and is more apt to pay a maximum claim.
PhotographyTalk recommends PackageChoice as your best partner to come to your aid in event of a fire, flood, burglary or any other incident that disrupts your business. Please contact one of its experts for a free quote at http://www.packagechoice.com.
Image credit: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo
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