For many photographers, their passion eventually results in them becoming semi-pros or full-time professionals offering a wide range of photography services. If this is the path you’ve traveled (or plan to travel), then it isn’t unusual for you to operate your business from your home. It’s convenient and saves on the costs of commercial space, especially if most of your photography assignments are on-location and do not require a studio. What you do require is the proper insurance coverage. Far too many home-based photographers rely on their homeowners’ policy to protect them…and that’s a big mistake for the following 9 reasons:
1. Whether you’re a semi-pro that shoots a few weddings or a full-time pro with a heavy schedule of assignments, it’s likely you’ve invested a considerable amount of money in your equipment. Did you know that most, if not all, homeowners and renters’ policies would not cover your equipment when used for business purposes, due to fire, theft, etc.? This equipment includes, but is not limited to, cameras, lenses, lighting, accessories, computer hardware or software, printers, scanners, props and portfolios. Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to have your homeowners’ policy updated or an endorsement added that would provide some coverage, but it wouldn’t protect everything.
2. Updated or endorsed homeowners’ policies could exclude coverage for any number of reasons, such as accidental breakage, mysterious disappearance, theft of equipment when away from your home and theft from a vehicle. As an experienced photographer, you know that your equipment is vulnerable to any of these incidences. If they happened and you weren’t adequately covered, then the cost to replace your equipment is coming out of your wallet.
3. Your homeowners’ policy does not protect you from business general liability claims or litigation. There are many stories about the photographer who wasn’t concerned about business liability at his or her home because clients never came there. It may be rare, but it only takes a single incident of someone in your home for the purpose of your photography business, getting injured and you could be in jeopardy of losing your business and home. And liability incidents don’t have to occur in your home. A wedding guest, model, client, intern or total stranger could be injured because he or she is burned by a hot light, is bumped in the head while you were carrying your equipment to and from a location or is hurt in another type of accident.
4. As a professional photographer, you are one of a group of business operations that can make any number of mistakes that result in failing to complete your portion of a contract. You miss the critical shot, your equipment fails, the one picture of the bride she really wanted makes her look awful, you accidentally destroy photo files, etc. In insurance and legal jargon, this is known as Errors and Omissions, or Professional Liability — something your homeowners’ policy doesn’t provide coverage for.
5. Here’s a reason most photographers haven’t considered: You have a private, detached building that you use exclusively as your business location and/or studio. It’s not uncommon for homeowners’ insurance to exclude coverage for the building’s structure (even if it was previously covered when used as a garage or storage shed prior to you taking possession) because it is now being used for a business purpose. Once again, the photography equipment in the building and any business activities that occur there wouldn’t be covered.
6. Maybe, you’ve landed a big job, one that will require you to rent additional or unique equipment just for the shoot. Don’t expect your standard homeowners’ policy to cover the rented gear. If something should happen to the equipment, the rental company will come after you.
7. Photographers are also in a class of business that will often have to provide a Certificate of Insurance to verify the operations are adequately insured. You may have learned that clients, a venue where you want to shoot an assignment, or an equipment rental company for the reason stated in #6 above require a Certificate of Insurance. The insurers of homeowner policies can’t issue such a Certificate because, of course, your policy doesn’t cover many of the potential incidences and liabilities that your clients, etc. require to be covered before doing business with you.
8. A homeowners’ policy is created for a home and the typical items and activities that occur there. Insurance companies do not develop the language and details of homeowners’ policies to include business equipment and activities.
9. With the advances in mobile technology, it’s likely you have added or will add laptops, iPads, other tablets and/or other devices to your photography equipment. Your homeowners’ policy doesn’t cover these items.
The best way to avoid being a victim of any of these non-coverage situations is to talk with an insurance agent that represents a company specializing in all forms of insurance for commercial photographers, semi-pros or full-time pros. PhotographyTalk recommends PackageChoice by Hill Usher, which you can contact for a free custom quote at www.packagechoice.com
Photograph © Getty Images
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