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Weather Insurance--Could It Make Life Easier for You?

Published: 02/03/2018
By: Brandon

Dave in Washington says:

I had an epiphany yesterday (as clients cancelled one-after-another because of the snow). And honestly, I don’t blame them. If I had an expensive waterfront or "big view" home I’d want it shot in decent weather too.

I’m getting more and more upper-end homes–and the nightmare of weather-dependent shoots is becoming a real challenge. Last year, I lost a great client after asking politely if she would book weather dependent shoots elsewhere. Now I just take my losses and try to smile. But today the light came on:

Does weather dependent really need to be a challenge?

If an agent calls up and wants to book a shoot but demands that it be weather dependent, no problem--as long as they assume some of the risk too… They do that by buying $100 weather insurance at the time of booking. If all ends well, that money is applied to the final charge. It also gives them license to cancel right up to the time we’ve booked and I pocket the $100

Shortly after I had this thought, a Sotheby’s agent I don’t know called me. Nice home, weather dependent. I held my breath and made the offer… He thought it was a great idea; made the booking and settled the online invoice immediately. Was that a fluke or have I stumbled onto something?!

I don't get a lot of weather-dependent requests (mostly because my city is under six feet of snow half the year) but I could see this concept working very well for those of you shooting in the sunny states, on the coast, etc.

Obviously, the concept of weather insurance would need to be tweaked according to individual markets but overall, what do you guys think of the idea?

Pros? Cons?

14 comments on “Weather Insurance--Could It Make Life Easier for You?”

  1. Here in NJ from November thru March we don't get very many sunny days. If I only did photo shoots on nice days I never get much done. I do a shoot in the rain and some of the gloomiest day's ever. What I tell the client is that I will go back and reshoot the outside on the next sunny day. That procedure has worked for me.

  2. I just talked with a couple of my regular clients about keeping bookings for days when the weather is bad. Anything that I can photograph that isn't view dependent means that I can still get work done on cloudy or rainy days and come back for those few images that really need to a nice sunny day. It also makes it very easy for me to schedule those make-up bookings as I can often squeeze them in between new jobs instead of having to find a time slot a week or so later.

    My last booking today didn't get finished since I had to do some running around for the brokerage to get access to the earlier booking and ran out of light. I still visited the property and photographed the exteriors and a bulk of the simple photos so if it does rain tomorrow, I can finish up the indoor photos and have the whole job ready for the weekend. I planned on the rain and I don't have any images left to do that need a view. A big upside is that I will have of the images done in post and won't have any problem delivering the whole job so the office has time to get the listing listed.

  3. Living in the Sunshine State, a bad weather day is hardly a Chamber of Commerce moment. About the only time I cancel is during a hurricane, but no one is allowed on the streets anyway - and at least a week of cleanup afterwards. During 'regular' bad weather days when the realtor wants to postpone due to weather, I point out that their client went to a lot of trouble getting the house cleaned and prepared for photos and it is not fair to them. With that logic, they see the value of my getting the interior and at least the one mandatory exterior if they want to list it, then follow up on the next sunny day for exterior (which can usually work in enroute between shoots). Put that way, it makes a lot of sense to them - and not that I am trying to salvage my schedule. What I don't tell them as I leave it to my discretion - a happy surprise rather than an expectation - if there is an interior shot with a spectacular view, I may re-take that one to. Also, I prefer to do exteriors last rather than entering the home dripping wet, particularly during the summer with afternoon thunderstorms, I keep assess both lighting an potential weather changes and make a determination if should do exteriors first or last (and occasionally both as the weather improved during the shoot)

  4. What’s the difference between weather insurance and a non-refundable deposit. Anything weather related would probably be negated by an act of God clause. I think we have little choice other than to be flexible. None of us control the weather.

  5. +1 to what Larry wrote. There are always several rooms that can be shot on rainy days (baths, basements, rooms with cruddy window views), and I like to get those done so the next shoot will be quicker and it's easier to squeeze into my schedule.

    And +1 to Gary... I charge a fee for day-of cancellations regardless if it's because of weather or the house isn't ready to be shot.

  6. I agree we have to be flexible with our customers. If I started charging them weather insurance forget it. I'm flexible with them and that's part of the reason they keep using my services.

  7. I am with Ken B and Larry G on the way I run my business. To be successful in this business, you need to be flexible. Putting the onus on your clients for something out of their control not only builds bad feelings but also spreads the reputation of someone not easy to work with.

    It takes a lot more work to win a client's loyalty than it does to lose one. It would be misguided to think that clients chose you just because you put out a good product. There are a number of reasons, such as price, speed, flexible, etc. and if they don't fall inline with their expectations.... you're out

  8. (I'm not a professional real estate photographer)

    Although the insurance policies we offer don't include weather insurance, they do offer "loss of business income" coverage. So, if your camera equipment is stolen or you drop your bag and everything is broken (covered peril) just before a shoot which you now can't complete, the policy will pay you the money you would have made (loss of business income). It will also reimburse you for equipment rental if you are able to rent gear to complete the shoot(s). Most carriers only pay "loss of business income" if the loss occurs at your premises. Two of the carriers we represent extend coverage if the loss occurs off premises (which is much more likely).

    Our programs start at $325 per year for general & professional liability, $40,000 equipment coverage worldwide, etc.

  9. A clever idea for sure! Here in the PNW weather is just part of the game though. I photographed high end homes in the Seattle area for years and it never occurred to me to charge my clients for rain delays. I guess I'm not terribly clever ;-). We just rescheduled - and it's not like I lost a listing because it rained, we just moved it to another date. If your schedule is booked so tight that you don't have the flexibility to move shoots around because of weather then I think you're too busy.

    But only you can answer this question. At face value it strikes me as nit-picky. But if you are in fact losing a good amount of money because of weather delays (or at least enough to dump a great client over it) then obviously you have to figure out something. My first inclination would be to estimate how much money you're losing due to weather over the course of a year and then spread that figure out over the number of shoots you do a year. Then raise your prices accordingly to cover it. Where did you get the $100 figure? Is it based on how many weather delays you anticipate or did you just pick it because it's a nice even number that sounds right?

  10. This is not a novel idea. Professional photographers have been charging for weather rescheduling/cancellation for a long time. A typical charge for this is half the photographer's day rate or hourly shooting rate, plus any costs the photographer has incurred in preparation for the shoot that are non-refundable.

  11. Here in NE, NJ for the winter and early spring months we don't get to many ideal days to shoot a property with the snow and rainy cloudy gloomy days. This charging for rescheduling for weather cancelations wouldn't work for me. I wouldn't have many customers left if I started doing that. This past Friday I was scheduled for a shoot about 20 minutes away and I wake up to a snow storm outside. That's not the realtors fault so I got in touch with him and rescheduled for Monday when we are both free. No big deal.

  12. "A typical charge for this is half the photographer’s day rate or hourly shooting rate, plus any costs the photographer has incurred in preparation for the shoot that are non-refundable."

    So is this your policy when photographing real estate for sale David? Has it worked out well for you?

  13. You have to be flexible in this business, it's what gains client loyalty and appreciation. Lots of photographers can provide a high quality image at a reasonable rate, it's the subtle details and extra notions (such as flexibility, accommodating quick turnaround requests, dealing with pain-staking homeowners, etc) that set you a part.

  14. Our business has suffered due to all the snowstorms in the northeast this year. Realtors just aren't scheduling anything until the weather changes. Shoots that normally would have been scheduled by now have been pushed back. Last March was one of our busiest months but this year is totally different. We're located northeast of Philadelphia and we just went through two major nor'easters that dumped a ton of snow on us. There's another nor'easter coming through tonight.. hopefully it won't be too bad.

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