Don't Shoot in the Dark
A Risk Management Guide for Self-Employed Photographers and Videographers

Chapter 1: Small Business Insurance Basics for Photographers and Videographers
Part 2: Do Freelancers Need Small Business Insurance?
Protect Your Equipment: Property Insurance for Photographers and Videographers

Freelance photographers and videographers are unique in that you might transport thousands of dollars' worth of equipment on any given work day. Photography and videography equipment is expensive, plain and simple. It's likely that you've accumulated your equipment over years and invested a lot of money into quality products.

Most freelancers aren't able to replace, say, a camera body or lens when it is…

  • Stolen out of a car.
  • Lost along with your checked luggage.
  • Broken by a member of the wedding party.
  • Damaged in a fire in your home.
  • Lost in a severe windstorm.

These events could happen to any freelancer at any time — especially because you don't always have control over where your job takes you and your equipment. Fortunately, Property Insurance can protect your business from these losses and more.

Property Insurance policies are highly customizable, which is a good thing since one freelancer's Property coverage needs could be completely different from another's. Before you decide what kind of policy is right for your business, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much coverage do you need? When purchasing a Property Insurance policy, you can generally choose between either an Actual Cash Value (AVC) policy or a Full Replacement Value (FRV) policy. AVC policies tend to have lower premiums, but your insurance company will only reimburse you for a percentage of the damaged item's value. That value is determined by a mathematical formula which takes two factors into account: the item's depreciation and a new, similar item's current-market cost. A FRV policy will cost a little more, but it guarantees that you'll be able to replace your lost item with a similar one at its full cost. Do note: "full replacement value" does not necessarily mean you'll be reimbursed for the exact amount you paid for the item. The payout is based on what the item is going for on today's market. For example: It's a good thing you have a FVR Property Insurance policy because a camera body and a zoom lens were stolen from your studio. You bought both of them a year ago, costing you $7,000 and $2,500, respectively. Since camera bodies tend to lose their value more quickly than lenses, a similar camera body on today's market costs $6,500 while a similar lens still costs $2,500. Therefore, your insurance will reimburse you for $9,000 — not the $9500 you paid a year ago.
  • Do you own commercial real estate? If you do, you'll want to pick out a Property Insurance policy that protects the structure of the building and its contents. "Contents" include items like equipment, furnishing, fixtures, and anything else that's housed on your property. Too often, property owners don't realize their contents aren't covered until a storm hits and it's too late. Most Property Insurance policies protect you from very specific dangers — known as "perils" — that are outlined on your policy. The most commonly included perils include fire, theft, and wind damage. If you need coverage for additional perils, speak with your insurance agent. For example: You own a boutique videography business in a small ski town. When unexpected late-summer rains flood your town, your studio goes underwater as well. Your video equipment is ruined, but it's a good think you got a Flood Insurance rider that covers both your studio and its contents, because many of your neighbors did not.
  • Do you rent property? Your landlord's Property policy probably excludes the contents of your rented space from coverage. This means that in the event of a windstorm, your landlord's policy might pay for the roof, but it won't cover your photography equipment that was lost in the storm. For example: You rent a small downtown office for your video editing business. In the middle of the night, a neighboring office space catches on fire and it spreads to your office before firefighters can put it out. All of your furnishings are destroyed, and you're glad you took out a Property Insurance policy on your stuff.
  • Do you own a home-based business? Like business-related liability claims, business property damage claims are typically excluded from Homeowner's Policies. This means that if a camera is stolen from your home and you don't have Property Insurance, you may have to foot the bill on your own. Keep in mind: what insurance providers consider "business equipment" extends beyond your camera, lenses, and lighting equipment. Check out Entrepreneur's New browser window icon. chart, which details the most common types of home-based business equipment New browser window icon.:

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