Being a photographer is creatively rewarding but a fair few things can go wrong.
We explore what you need in terms of photography insurance as a small business owner – whether you’re in the studio or on-location for a shoot.
What insurance is required by law for photographers?
Some parts of an insurance policy are a must for all businesses and others are particularly handy for photographers.
“Personal liability insurance is important as you’re working with the public,” says Jemma Holloway at Direct Line for Business. “It also keeps you covered in case damage is done when you’re on-location for a shoot.” Say you’re filming an event and someone trips over your camera cable. Personal liability insurance will cover any costs you may incur including legal fees.
‘Indemnity insurance is essential in clearing your name and protecting your reputation’
Employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement if you have any staff including volunteers and students. This could also mean lighting or sound crews who may experience injury or damage to their products while on the job. The insurance can cover medical bills or treatments as well as legal costs.
The only exception here is if they’re independent contractors – they’ll have their own insurance in this case.
Holloway stresses the importance of professional indemnity insurance for photographers, insuring you for mistakes which cause financial and reputational damage:
“For example, your SD card corrupts and you lose all of the photos that you’ve snapped for a wedding. Having professional indemnity insurance covers your compensation and other damages.”
She says that it could also cover sharing images that weren’t mentioned to be shared – like posting a photo on to your business Facebook page by accident.
Public liability insurance won’t be enough in this case as it doesn’t protect your work and your professional conduct. Indemnity insurance is essential in clearing your name and protecting your reputation. It may be included in your policy but is an easy add-on if not.
Be aware that a venue might require you to have a minimum level of cover so make sure you check that before you take on a project.
Which types of insurance are recommended?
Holloway recommends one-off indemnity for special events which can be useful if you don’t do them regularly. One policy can cover you for multiple days. It’ll include public liability, but you can add employers’ liability and equipment cover if you wish.
Equipment insurance is a good idea. Your kit is essential in running your business and could lose you thousands of pounds if you have to fork out for losses or damages yourself. It may also cover the cost of renting a temporary camera, lens or other piece of equipment. Check your policy to find out if you’re covered when you’re shooting on-location. Portable equipment insurance may be necessary to plug the gap if you’re shooting outside your studio.
We’ve got one last recommendation: business interruption insurance.
“Business interruption insurance is great for any small business. It covers loss of income that you experience when you can’t work but it’s important not to confuse it with personal injury cover. For example, it’ll come in handy if your property floods and you have financial losses because you can’t operate,” says Holloway.
What about the extras?
With photographer’s insurance, your cover is specific to you.
“People are moving away from package policies,” says Holloway. “Businesses can choose how much responsibility they want and what they want to be insured.”
To start, you can get yourself covered if you’re working outside the UK. These extras will be split into different parts of the world such as EU and USA.
Those who use their mobile phone and tablet in connection with their photography business can add accidental cover to their policy too.
Consider theft from unattended vehicle cover as well as damage or theft to your portfolio – your insurer can provide funds to help you recover or reproduce any images that have been lost or stolen.
Are there any restrictions I need to consider in my photography insurance policy?
If you keep your equipment in certain places such as dormitories, hostels, tents or caravans – even if it’s in a locked compartment – you may not be covered. Check your policy if you want to keep it in a top box on a motorbike as it might not be covered in this instance either.
Equipment left in your car or van will need to be kept concealed with the door locked otherwise your claim may be invalid.
And if your job involves a certain level of danger, read over your policy. Some insurers may not cover higher-risk activities like rock climbing, stunt work or underwater activities.
On that note, photographers who work with drones may need to take out a specialist drone photography policy.
Baz Seal runs his own company, Baz.London, and is the co-founder of The Chemistry Works.
How did you start the search for photography insurance?
I started with an online search filling out questionnaires – I thought it would be as simple as finding car insurance. However, once I started to provide my info, I soon realised I didn’t fall into any of the traditional categories. I ended up having to wait for a representative to call me back.
‘The problem is there’s no “one size fits all” with photography’
In the end, I went back to my original insurer because they understood me and the needs of my business.
What difficulties did you have in finding the right policy?
The problem is there’s no “one size fits all” with photography. Every event I do is different. I’m also part of a creative collaborative called The Chemistry Works, which means I need a policy that covers me for when I do work commissioned through that group. Every photographer really needs a bespoke policy that covers the different facets of their work.
Were there any extras or restrictions that you weren’t aware of?
I discovered there can be certain extras based on the type of photography you do, for example, aerial photography in planes or helicopters is considered high-risk and may require extra coverage on your premium.
It’s essential that you have ample coverage for the type of work you do.
What advice do you have for other photographers who need specialist insurance?
Don’t cut corners. Think through every possible situation and be as thorough as possible and be open and honest about what you do. Put everything in, even if it makes your premium go up – it will be worth it when you do have to make a claim.
Make sure you have all the different types of insurance covered. For me that means professional indemnity insurance. I also need public liability insurance in case a tripod falls on someone and hurts them. For most location photographers, that coverage needs to be a minimum of £5m. And then there’s standard coverage for the loss or damage to your equipment.
Finally, if you’re using an assistant, consider whether they need to be insured under your policy. If they fall under your employ, they should be covered by your insurance, whereas if they’re freelance, they should have their own policy.
Small business insurance: an essential guide