It’s likely you need at least some insurance. Most photographers do.
Google ‘ professional photographer’s insurance’, however, and you get lots of people wanting to sell you stuff, but not many people wanting to tell you stuff.
And that's no good for anyone. So here’s our no-nonsense guide to insurance for photographers.
Insurance for your mistakes
This might seem a little unfair but the fact that you’re a professional person puts you at risk by default. Your clients pay you money to do something they can’t (or won’t) do themselves. And because they do, they’re within their rights (both morally and legally) to sue you if something goes wrong – even if they just think something’s gone wrong.
Worst-case scenario, you could be liable for the cost of reshooting an unhappy couple’s wedding photos, compensating a client because you accidently wiped their photos or fending off accusations you've copied someone else's work.
These things are all covered by photographers’ professional indemnity insurance. If you’re in dispute with a client, the policy pays for the cost of defending any allegations against you and stumps up for damages or compensation if you’re liable.
Insurance for damaging people and/or their property
Shooting on location and taking equipment out and about are both fairly obvious risks to you, but they can spell trouble for others too.
Tripods can topple, lights can explode, bags can be tripped over, cars can get scratched, carpets can be muddied.
Owners of property or body parts (ewww!) damaged by you or your equipment – either in your studio or on location – will hold you liable. That usually means a claim against you for the cost of fixing what’s broken, or compensating them for their injury.
Public liability insurance covers the legal costs of a claim, and any other payments made to the unlucky finger-pointer (assuming they still have a finger to point with).
Insurance for the people you work with
If you employ someone, you’ll know that you’re legally required to have employers’ liability insurance.
You do know that, right?
As an employer, your staff’s welfare is your responsibility. If they’re injured or become ill while working for you, and it’s your fault, your insurance picks up the tab if they sue you.
But, what you really need to know is that it’s not just permanent, full-time employees that have to be covered. The Health and Safety Executive’s definition of an ‘employee’ is broad and includes part-timers, volunteers, work experience kids, temporary summer workers, secondees, apprentices and labour-only subcontractors.
That makes a difference if you’re a sole trader and you occasionally use an extra pair of hands on a shoot, for example.
The HSE hands out fines to those who should have employers’ liability insurance but don’t, so the best way to avoid trouble is to read its guide for employers and make sure you’re within the law.
Insurance for your stuff
Have you totted up how much you’ve spent on your equipment? All of it mind, from your Mac right down to the last lens-cleaning cloth?
A lot isn’t it? Now imagine if you had to replace it all in one go.
Yes, we know it’s unlikely to happen, but the point is your livelihood is tied up in your tools of the trade. Losing them is inconvenient and replacing them is expensive.
So insuring them is a no-brainer. All you need to know is what sort of insurance covers it all.
You’ll need to make sure that your policy covers the things kept in your studio, and the equipment you take out and about too.
That way, you get specialist, industry-specific cover for specialist, industry-specific circumstances.
Most insurers separate their equipment insurance policies and give the sections specific wordings. It’s worth making the effort to read these wordings as some include useful things such as covering hired-in equipment. The really good policies will help out if your equipment breaks down, too.
Insurance for technology
The internet’s brilliant isn’t it? And email. That’s brilliant too.
But before we get too carried away, let’s remind ourselves that viruses, hackers and data theft aren't brilliant. Not at all.
In fact, they’re a real problem for any business that uses technology (which is pretty much all businesses). Nowadays, you need more than a decent lock on your door to keep light fingers off your stuff.
It’s likely you store most of your clients’ photos on a separate hard drive or server. It’s also likely some of those photos are of special significance to your clients and the last thing they want is for them to become public property. Or wiped out completely.
If you’re the victim of a cyber-attack, cyber insurance covers your direct losses, eg the cost of repairing systems or your website, and/or the compensation you might have to pay to clients if you’re sued for unauthorised data collection.
Insurance if you can’t work
With the best will in the world, some things are outside your control and can make running a business difficult. Sometimes impossible.
If you’re a sole trader, not being able to work could be a disaster. But, as you’d expect, there’s insurance to help you out.
In both cases, the policy keeps your business up and running in circumstances that otherwise means it can’t. So your livelihood is protected if, for example, extreme weather means you can’t get to your studio, or a fire wipes it out and you have to relocate, or you break your arm and can’t take any photos.
The insurance works by paying for extra help if it’s needed, paying for the costs of moving, paying for lost revenue and paying for medical expenses.
Insurance for other business things
Running a business is fraught with problems. There’s a huge amount of legislation in the UK and Europe to keep up with, accompanied by an equal number of legal pitfalls for the unprepared.
Tax, property and employment disputes are the most common and require time, effort and money to resolve. You can employ a solicitor to help you, of course, and we all know how cheap they are …
Or you can invest in a commercial legal expenses insurance policy instead. It helps with your legal costs and provides expertise and invaluable advice when you need it most: when you don’t know what to do with that official looking letter, basically.
As you might expect, that isn't it – there's much more insurance out there if you're really keen. Directors' and officers' insurance, tax investigation insurance, commercial premises insurance; the list goes on.
You can insure almost anything these days and where you draw the line is up to you. At least now you know where the line starts.
If you need help deciding what best, or you'd like a quote for any of what you've just read about, call us on 0345 222 5391 or go here.business interruption insurancecyber liability insurancedirectors' and officers' insuranceinsurance explainedlegal expenses insuranceoffice insurancepersonal accident insurancephotographersportable equipment insurance