Your insurance claim and recovery from a disaster is your first and only priority.
Visually document the event.
Ask for the help of witnesses.
Create a list of stolen, lost or damaged equipment.
As a professional photographer, you’re simply dead in the water if your DSLR or other critical camera equipment is damaged or stolen. For many photographers, their camera is almost an extension of their arm and hand; they can’t imagine not being able to grab it and start creating images whenever they want. The day may come, however, when it has been damaged in a fire or accident, for example; or it has been stolen from your home, car, studio or a shoot site.
Assuming you have insurance coverage for your equipment – and you absolutely must – then you may be asking yourself, “What do I do next?” The following tips will help make the claim process easier and less stressful.
Yes, you’re pissed and feel violated. Your shooting schedule, customer contacts and other tasks you thought you were doing during the next few days are totally disrupted. Take a deep breath and calm yourself; you’re not the first photographer whose equipment has been damaged or stolen.
Time is of the essence whenever you make any kind of insurance claim, but it’s especially important to take immediate action when it’s the equipment that generates your income. Although your first call may be to your assistant to inform clients and others of what happened and why any projects will be delayed, the next call should be to your insurance agent to alert him or her of your unfortunate incident. He or she is trained and experienced to help you through the claims process, and knows how important it is to put a camera back in your hands. If your camera was stolen or lost due to some other kind of criminal activity, then your first call should actually be to the police, so they can start to investigate and prepare the appropriate reports. You’ll want copies of all police documents to include with your insurance claim.
After making one or both of the important phone calls above, document what happened with photos and/or video. Of course, if your camera is gone or doesn’t work, then you’ll have to use your smartphone, tablet or secondary camera. In the event of a fire or other event that damaged your photo equipment, visually document the damage from all angles without moving anything or starting to clean the mess. You can also use your smartphone to record an audio description of what happened.
Depending on what circumstances resulted in the theft or damage of your photography equipment, there may have been witnesses to the event. It’s important to ask them to provide you with a statement of what they observed. Ask any witnesses to give you their full names and contact information, so you or your insurance claims adjuster can contact them again, if necessary.
One of the most important insurance tips PhotographyTalk has shared with you in previous articles is to create and maintain an up-to-date list of all your photography equipment, and give your insurance agent a copy. The list should include more than the names and descriptions of the equipment. Your insurance agent will also want to know the value of the equipment and an estimate of how much time you won’t be able to work. If you have them, then it’s a good idea to include copies of receipts or other paperwork that documents the value of your equipment.
You can’t avoid making an insurance claim for stolen, lost or damaged photography equipment if it is necessary, but you can be better prepared to recover from such a disaster when you choose PackageChoice as your insurance Agent. The professionals at PackageChoice specialize in serving professional photographers and videographers in the United States. They know your business and the specific insurance coverage you need – and they understand how important it is to act quickly on your behalf, so you can return to your business.
PhotographyTalk recommends PackageChoice as your best business insurance partner for your camera equipment and other gear, including computers, plus General Liability, Errors & Omission and other business insurance. Please contact one of its experts for a free quote at http://www.packagechoice.com/index.jsp#htwms.
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