Tips for Proactive Steps You Can Take to Help Your Insurance Company Protect Your Valuable Photography Equipment
Obtaining specific insurance coverage for your photography equipment is an absolute must, especially if you’re a serious amateur or professional with thousands of dollars of equipment. Even hobbyists and enthusiasts should have the right kind of policy to protect their first DSLR, although it is an entry-level model.
A homeowner or renter’s policy may cover lower-cost photo gear, but these policies often have a deductible that may be more than the replacement cost. Although you can add what’s called a rider to your homeowner or renter’s coverage, any claim, especially for equipment worth thousands, could result in your policy being canceled or a hefty increase in the premium. Once such a claim has been made and a policy canceled, finding new coverage may be difficult or very expensive.
The better solution is to obtain an “inland marine policy,” sometimes called a personal items policy, for your photography equipment. You can also add your laptop, tablet and other non-photography equipment that you use for editing, storage, etc. If, after a claim, the insurance company decides to cancel the policy or increase the premium, then it only affects the separate policy, not your homeowner or renter’s.
Even with the right kind of policy and sufficient coverage, you should be proactive, not passive, about protecting your equipment.
Typically, your photography gear is more vulnerable to theft or damage when you are using it, not when it is stored in your home or studio/office. The following tips can reduce the possibility of theft when you are working onsite or traveling and help you find your camera if it is stolen.
1. Never leave your camera or any equipment on the seats of your car, even if it’s locked, visible to anyone walking by the vehicle. Even a lens cap or other seemingly innocuous item can signal to a savvy thief that there may be gear under a seat, in the glove box or in the trunk.
2. Some photographers have been known to take extreme measures to make their cameras look old and inexpensive, by filing off the company logo or removing bits of plastic. Less-invasive steps include not using the camera strap that comes with the camera, which often includes the logo; placing a bit of tape over the battery or SD card door to make it appear old or even more conspicuous tape around the camera to suggest that it would fall apart otherwise.
3. Some experienced travelers and travel photographers recommend that you shouldn’t carry your equipment in a backpack because you can’t see what is occurring behind you. They recommend using a cross-body bag, so the bag is on one or the other hip and you can rest your hand on it. This type of bag also makes it easier to grab your camera quickly for a shot.
4. Ultimately, it’s the photos you take that are valuable, especially if someone is paying you. They can’t be replaced, but a camera and any kind of gear can; therefore, always carry extra memory cards with you and switch them periodically as you are shooting, even though they aren’t filled. Most important, carry the cards on your person, not in the camera bag. It’s also a good idea to download whatever you’ve shot every evening, especially when traveling.
5. Consider registering your camera and equipment with a service, such as Lenstag. You simply upload the model, serial number and a photo of the gear you want protected. If any registered equipment is stolen, you simply notify Lenstag and it works to track your gear anywhere in the world. As the Lenstag site states, it’s taking action during the first few hours following a theft that increases the odds of recovery. Waiting to register your gear once a theft has occurred delays the search; and typically stolen photography equipment has been pawned or sold within the first 24 to 48 hours.
6. CameraTrace is another of these services. It provides you with lost & found metallic stickers to attach to your camera and gear, so if anyone finds them, they are able to contact CameraTrace, so it can be returned.
7. Other online services, such as CameraFound.com and stolencamerafounder.com, allow you to upload photos you’ve shot with a stolen or lost camera. As you may know, each photo is tagged with the EXIF metadata, so if a thief or an innocent purchaser of a stolen camera shoots new photos with your camera and uploads them to the Internet, they can be traced with the EXIF metadata.
Whatever the circumstances of a lost or stolen camera, you should always contact your insurance company immediately and file a claim within a few days. In most cases, you will also want to report any theft to the local police, so you will have its official report for your insurance company.
You can do much to protect your camera and other photography equipment, but, ultimately, you want all of it to be insured by a company that specializes in policies for photographers – that company is PackageChoice. They have an outstanding reputation in the photography community for making sure photographers’ equipment as well as their businesses are adequately covered against all incidents that might harm their ability to make a living.
PhotographyTalk recommends that you choose PackageChoice to be your partner in protecting your equipment and business. Please contact one of its experts for a free quote at http://www.packagechoice.com.
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