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What Options Are Available to Real Estate Photographers for Insurance?

Published: 15/11/2018
By: larry

Alan in the Seattle area recently asked:

Do you have any recommendations for where to get liability and gear insurance? How much liability coverage is suggested?

Here are some companies recommended by PFRE readers in the past:

Check out what works best for you and understand exclusions up front. Based on readers' input, you'll need to spend between $300 and $1000 a year on insurance which gets you gear and liability coverage. If you fly a drone, don't forget to include coverage for that as well.

Any other suggestions?

12 comments on “What Options Are Available to Real Estate Photographers for Insurance?”

  1. This is a real timely issue for me, currently paying (just checked) $994 a if someone in Oceania can save me here - its all to the bottom line.
    Larry - we have had a few "movements" down-under in recent memory - but still .... am kinda thinking we really are paying through now .... only claim was a kinda weird one.
    But...hey folks out there - let me just say this - your flash - any flash or flash head can get real warm (read "coming in real hot" here) after you have taken 50 or so shots in the living room/diner/kitchen - especially one with superb Nelson waterfront views.
    So you arrive in the lounge and all these fabulous views await you ... and the home owners and the agent are going overboard about it - and to be fair - rightly so - it was fantastic. And I got a bit caught u in the moment sensing the agent needed a bit of "backup" here.
    Following I looked for a convenient place to put the flash down (on 1 or 2 days it might be a AD200 or a AD600 or others) and hey - that comfy black leather lounge looked good, in fact when I backed myself into the farthest corner to get the best vista - it was the nearest and most obviously place to put it.
    Fast forward a day or two.
    Only later did I get the call from the agent - who got the call from the home owners about there $10,000 black leather lounge suit that had mysteriously developed some weird white strips and spots (which the home owner had stated looked quite "famil" to that to which a flash I saw the photographer place on that chair) .....up front you may think an easy fix - BUT if not a colour matching is perfect it could be $10k or more.
    Anyway - long story short - warning to all photog's out there.
    It might not be a leather lounge - in fact maybe a 100 year old mahogany heirloom - whatever - hey - just be advised it can happen...well it did to me.
    Can say now I am paranoid about wood / leather / imitation leather / plywood even - any surface Larry other than steel - because I really dont need a claim on my insurance to dent my excess.
    Hopefully this can save someone some money - because I wish I had read somewhere about it before I was in the situation.

  2. Should quickly back this up with the "common sense" route.
    That being obvious - easiest example here is an AD200 - just make sure you don't have the head closest to the surface - in my case it was dumb. If I had turned the flash around 180 degrees none of this would have happened!

  3. Don't often post here - but when I do...

    1] After I personally experienced what happens when a newly introduced "flickering/flashing" experience is brought upon a young person I always ask if "any person or animal who will be here, see or experience - even at a distance .. could have an adverse reaction to flashes." (first hand I have experienced this - and let me tell you its not pretty - and it involves 111 and ambulances and hospitals!) Larry - surely this could / MUST be a next post about this from the insurance companies POV?

    2] Always ask if the home-owner has any Personal Photos / Awards / Certificates / etc in any of the rooms / on the walls ... et al.
    Things that they do not want to see on the internet. Brought home incredibly real to me when I had a panic'ed agent ring me about the photos because the vendor of the home was an undercover detective. The agent thought that there may have been a few folk out there that could have associated the homes advertised address (and photos of the awards/pics on the walls) with the chap that put them behind bars a few years back.
    And perhaps they did not recall that time fondly....? Just my 10cents worth.

  4. I just get it through my State Farm agent.
    It runs about $850 a year. It covers equipment damage, liability, and theft and you can tell them how much coverage you want. And they can advise you how much they think you should have, which oddly enough has something to do with your net worth... (What they you think you could be realisticly sued for)

  5. I love Thomas Pickard. I've had to use them once (stolen camera) and they were so fast with the claim and the customer service among the best I've ever dealt with! Definitely recommend!

  6. If you are flying a drone, you will need to get specific drone coverage. If your insurance agent states that it is covered under your business or umbrella coverage, have him/her double check and send you a letter stating it is. I checked several business and umbrella coverage and none covered drone usage. However, several agents I spoke with assumed it did. I expect that to change as drone become more popular.

    Clearly liability insurance is a must. We are covered by both a business plan and a umbrella plan.

    As far as gear insurance, that is questionable. Look at the cost and the deducible. I have found that it is cheaper in the long run to replace the equipment than to carry the insurance. But, your mileage may vary.

  7. I use PPA (professional photographers of america) and it's a reasonable rate with good coverage, something in the range of $35.00 a month for liability and gear coverage (up to $15,000 in gear coverage).

  8. I have my policy through a local agent. The company behind it is United States Liability Insurance Group. It works out to about $350 a year. I was mostly interested in liability insurance not the equipment theft part.
    You know... you are framing the shot and bump into the priceless Ming Vase with grandma's ashes kinda thing. Or you turn on a light and the house burns down... Unlikely stuff that could ruin you, especially her in California where business owners are always at fault, no trial needed.

  9. I use State Farm. I have a few policies.
    1. A marine policy. This covers me in case of anything happening to my gear, I break it, drops in the lake and I can't get, someone walks away with by bag. Anything. I pay about $20 a month for this policy, I forget the exact rate but I think is about $1.20 per $1k in gear coverage. You itemize all of your gear and its value and you're good to go. One thing is if you sell of your gear be sure to drop coverage on that piece.
    2. Liability Policy - This is in case I break something that is not mine or someone trips on my gear or whatever else could happen. This runs me $27 a month.
    Total costs ~$47 a month and I feel I am very well protected.

  10. @Neal McGuire, gear coverage with a high deductible can be a good thing to have. If your house burns down with all of your gear inside along with computers, etc. Being able to get going again quickly is a good thing. One could also set the insurance amount to what it would take for a basic kit (one body, couple of lenses, memory cards, batteries and a bag). You might have lost more than that if somebody nicked your camera bag, but, again, you want to get back to being able to work as quickly as possible. If you have the available credit, it might be a good exercise to work out what the interest rate would be for financing a replacement set of equipment vs. the insurance cost for, maybe, 3 years or so. The upside with forgoing the insurance and utilizing a credit card is that you can order the new gear right away with no approval process. You just have to have a card ready to hand that you can use to cover it. If you don't suffer any losses, I haven't for 9 years, you aren't out any money. I do have a high deductible gear policy just in case, but it's very cheap.

  11. @Brown, A rider on my home insurance covers the gear while at home. Plus, I keep enough liquid funds that I can replace a basic kit, and keep going.

    Just to open the discussion, insurance is only part of a disaster recovery plan. There is far more to running a business than just the hardware. Things like accounting records, schedules, contacts, photos, software and more all need to safely backed up off site. Other things to think about are internet access, phone service, a work space and transportation. Sometime it is a good check to try and run your business outside of you home for a day. That last piece is the most scary, what happens if you can't work for a month or two?

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