What Types of Insurance Does a Photography Business Need?
Typically, photoshoots are not inherently dangerous—unless, of course, the client wants action shots of a hang-gliding adventure. Then perhaps the job may be dangerous. But more likely, photographers document less dangerous occasions like weddings, branding sessions, milestones, or editorial photo shoots.
Amid creating and documenting special moments, photographers encounter hazards that may disrupt business. As a result, well-rounded insurance policies are essential for photography businesses.
Related: Guide to starting a photography business
What Are Some Risks for a Photography Business?
Several risks that photography businesses encounter include the following:
- Loss or damage to photography equipment
- In-studio customer injuries
- Car accidents
- Employee injuries
- Fire damage
Loss or Damage to Photography Equipment
Many photographers provide photoshoot sessions off-site. However, an off-site location means photography equipment is regularly in transport, exposing the equipment to the risk of loss or damage. For example, the equipment may be damaged in a car accident.
Outdoor locations are particularly hazardous for a photography business’s equipment. For instance, excessive heat or precipitation can damage cameras, props, and lighting equipment. Additionally, the equipment has increased exposure to thefts. Cameras, lights, speakers, and photoshoot décor are small and expensive, making the items targets for theft.
In-Studio Customer Injuries
Studios have several hazards that may lead to customer injuries. For example, slips and trips are common injury claims, and extra chairs, chords, boxes, carpets, props, and drapes are trip hazards. Also, slips and falls can occur in bathrooms, which are areas that quickly become slippery.
In addition, in-studio injuries occur during pre-photo shoot preparation and the photoshoot. For example, studios offering pre-photo shoot preparation, such as hair styling, have a burn hazard caused by curling irons or hair straighteners. During photo sessions, individuals (particularly children) are at risk of falling off props, such as risers, boxes, or chairs.
Photographers working at off-site venues are required to drive often, leading to an increased risk of car accidents. Car accidents cause injury to the employee and also expose the business to liabilities and vehicle damage.
Collisions occur for various reasons, but some of the more common causes include distractions, driver fatigue, and poor driving conditions. In addition, meeting a photo shoot’s timeline also affects safe driving. Many photoshoots are scheduled on a tight timeline, especially if multiple sessions occur back-to-back. This timeline may pressure photographers to drive unsafely in order to meet their reservations.
Additionally, employees may drive at late or early hours for special sessions, which may raise the risk of car accidents. For example, birth photography may require photographers to drive in the dark, early morning hours, when they are likely fatigued.
Aside from car accident injuries, employees face other workplace hazards that may risk injury. For example, hauling photography equipment, such as props and lighting equipment, can cause back or muscle injury. Also, electric shock injuries can occur while using lighting or electrical equipment.
Employees who work off-site risk injuries in outdoor settings. For example, inclement weather (extreme heat or low temperatures) can lead to bodily harm such as sunburns, heatstroke, or illnesses. In addition, slips, trips, and falls occur in many settings, especially at outdoor shoots, as the footing could be uneven, slippery, or strewn with props and equipment.
Fire is a major concern for photography studios because the equipment and furniture are likely expensive to replace. Fires are caused by malfunctioning equipment and wiring, lighting equipment, and smoking. Additionally, kitchen areas add potential fire sources; for instance, equipment such as coffee machines, microwaves, and microwave ovens are usual fire sources in kitchen areas.
Photography studios also have a heavy fire load, compounding the fire concern. Flammable equipment, materials, and supplies may promote a quick-spreading fire that is challenging to put out. Photography studios have numerous items that contribute to a heavy fire load, including furniture, film, chemicals, décor, screens, and rugs.
What Types of Insurance Should a Photography Business Consider?
Although photographers and videographers face numerous hazards, there are many business insurance policies to protect them from experiencing financial hardship following a loss. Some of the key types of coverage that a photography business should consider include the following:
- Inland marine insurance
- General liability insurance
- Commercial automobile insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Equipment insurance
Inland Marine Insurance
Items and equipment moving between locations are at a greater risk of loss or damage. As a result, professional photographers with off-site sessions benefit from an inland marine policy that protects costly camera equipment and props. An inland marine insurance policy covers business equipment wherever it goes with coverage called an equipment floater.
An equipment floater protects the business’s mobile equipment against perils such as loss, theft, and damage. The policy, however, does not insure against damage caused by normal wear, use, or breakage.
General Liability Insurance
General liability coverage protects photography businesses from on-site customer injury claims or property damage claims. This policy also covers claims that occur because of the business’s actions. For example, a general liability policy could cover the property damage claim if an employee accidentally burns a customer’s clothing with a curling iron during preparation for a photoshoot.
Some event venues will require a certificate of insurance to prove that you have adequate insurance.
Well-rounded insurance coverage is important as liability lawsuits are often costly. Fortunately, general liability policies offer a wide range of coverage for incidents that may happen on-site. For example, some of the covered claim costs include the following:
- Medical bills
- Property damage repairs
- Legal fees
Commercial Auto Insurance
A commercial automobile insurance policy includes two key coverages. First, the policy covers liability for at-fault accidents. Second, the policy covers physical damage repairs or replacements for business-owned vehicles.
Auto liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage claims for at-fault car accidents. A liability policy can also offer coverage for uninsured motorist liability if the other driver of an at-fault policy does not have insurance.
Auto physical damage coverage protects business-owned vehicles from damage caused by collisions and non-collision events. Non-collision damage is covered by a line of insurance called comprehensive insurance and includes protection for damage caused by falling objects, fire, vandalism, and theft.
A workers’ compensation policy covers incidents when employees are injured while working. Although this coverage is not required in every state, it is still an important policy to consider. An injured employee may accrue extensive medical bills and lose income while they are unable to work. However, a workers’ compensation policy offers coverage for the employee while also protecting the business from potential lawsuits.
Some of the main benefits of a workers’ compensation policy include
- Payment of medical expenses
- Reimbursement for lost wages
- Coverage for ongoing rehabilitation care
- Disability income
- Coverage for funeral expenses
A property or dedicated equipment insurance policy is another core policy to consider that protects business-owned structures, equipment, and supplies. Under a property insurance policy, business property is protected from many hazards, including:
- Malicious mischief
- Wind and hail
- Water from leaking pipes
Generally, property insurance covers the structures for an amount equal to their rebuilding cost. So that in the event of a total loss, the policy would cover a complete rebuild of the building, minus any applicable deductibles.
Additionally, the property insurance policy covers business property (i.e., supplies, equipment, and inventory) for repairs or replacements up to an agreed policy limit. Normally, the policy covers these items on either a replacement cost basis or an actual cash value basis. Replacement cost policies compensate the business for lost items at a total replacement value. In contrast, an actual cash value policy pays for lost items at their value at the time of loss, which deducts for depreciation, wear, and tear.
How Much Does Insurance Cost for a Photography Business?
Insurance companies use coverage amounts and risk exposures to determine policy costs. For example, a higher coverage limit will cost more than a policy with a lower coverage amount. Therefore, insurance costs fluctuate as there is a wide variation in coverage amounts and risk exposures from one business to the next.
Some of the factors influencing photographer insurance coverage amounts and risk exposures include:
– The value of equipment that moves between locations
– The number and value of vehicles needing insurance
– The number of employees on the payroll
– How many customers regularly come on-site
– Fire suppression systems
– Any past or current lawsuits or insurance claims
Ultimately, the best way to determine the cost of a business owner’s policy is to contact an insurance company for an estimate. The insurance company can provide a quote specific to your business’s needs and possibly offer discounts for bundling. It is best to contact multiple companies, as this allows you to compare prices, coverages, and discounts.