Insurance 101 for Freelance Photographers and Videographers

When your job consists of traveling to many different places and environments while carrying very expensive and fragile equipment, insurance should be top of mind. I say should, because insurance is usually one of those things that can be tough to rationalize; 90% of the time we’re not getting anything in return. But as freelance photographers and videographers, we know we probably should sign up anyway, just in case someday we end up in that 10%. Here are some options a freelance photographer or videographer has when shopping for insurance policies:

Equipment Insurance

It’s all in the name: This insurance covers you if anything happens to your equipment. There are a variety of policies out there but these plans will usually replace your photography equipment (minus your deductible) if it breaks, gets stolen, or is lost. We all know what a nice lens costs, so paying less than $1/day in case something happens wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea.

General Liability Insurance

This type of insurance protects you against your clumsiness. If you’re doing a photoshoot in somebody’s house and you scratch their floor with your tripod or break a $500-floor lamp as you move around to get the perfect shot, this insurance will reimburse the costs incurred by your client to replace that lamp or polish the floor. In a worst-case scenario, if your client trips on your loose cable and breaks their arm, your insurance would also help you cover their medical fees and any other financial burdens tied to the accident (ie. if they need to stop working for a month). In functionality, liability insurance basically works like car insurance.

When you subscribe to a general liability insurance policy for your freelancing business, you will also receive a certificate of insurance. Some venues (like weddings, hotels, and show floors) require you to submit this certificate before they’ll let you work on their premises. If you’re faced with this, all you need to do is add them to your list of insured parties (which only takes a phone call or a few clicks, and doesn’t cost anything extra) before you start working there.

General liability insurance will also cover you if you get sued for using unauthorized materials in your advertising or if you need to hire an attorney.

Professional Liability Insurance

This policy is usually less necessary in the photography and videography industry; it covers you if you make a mistake or don’t deliver on an assignment, and your client decides to sue you for the financial fallout.

An important question: What if I already have insurance through my renters or homeowner policy?

Unfortunately, your renters or homeowners insurance usually only covers your photography or videography equipment while it is inside your home. The coverage tends to also be more limited than liability insurance, and technically it doesn’t apply to your freelance business.

Make sure to talk to your insurance rep so you can really get a sense for what they’re covering; it can be most helpful to ask scenario-based questions so you know what is being covered in a variety of situations. 

Where should you start? There are a lot of new online players in the insurance game for freelancers, which makes the process smoother and more transparent than it was in the past. Often, you won’t need to go to a broker and can head directly online to check out providers like Next Insurance or Thimble. The Freelancer’s Union also offers a general liability policy for freelancers.

One last piece of advice for buying insurance (or anything else in life, really!): Do your research and ask for quotes from multiple providers.

Lili - Banking for Your Business

Written by
Matthew Davis

Matthew Davis is a staff writer at Lili.