Equipment Insurance: Do I Really Need It?

July 25, 2013

One of my good friends recently got his Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II stolen and it reminded me about the importance of equipment insurance. This is a topic that isn’t often talked about until after equipment is lost, damaged, and/or stolen, so I figured this would make an excellent Cosplay Photographers Tutorial.

So what is equipment insurance? In short, it’s optional insurance purchased through an insurance company that provides you with financial reimbursement for the cost of repair or replacement of covered item in the event of lost, theft, or damage. Say you were on a photoshoot and dropped your camera and lens on the ground and the lens mount broke off. You would send it in to be repaired, inform the insurance company, and then wait for them to send you a check for the repair cost. What if you were doing a beach photoshoot in the water with a model, an unexpected wave hits causing you to trip and fall and your camera and lens falls into the water and stops functioning? Your insurance company will reimburse you for the insured value of the camera and lens. You finished a photoshoot and lock all your equipment into the trunk of the car and stop at Target to buy stuff, come out, your trunk was broken into and all your camera and lenses are gone. Equipment insurance covers that as well. Sounds like a pretty good to have doesn’t it? I think so.

But I’m Not a “Professional,” Why Do I Need Equipment Insurance?

Even if you do not earn a living as a professional photographer, that doesn’t mean you should leave all your professional grade equipment to chance. Accidents happen and when they do, can you afford to replace it after the many months of saving up for it?

Typically renter’s/homeowner’s insurance covers loss and theft, but there are some things to consider:

  • If you were paid even $1 for your services, renter’s/homeowner’s insurance will not cover the equipment as it is considered business property (even if you don’t have a business)
  • You can potentially be kicked-off or your premiums will go up from your insurance if you put in a huge claim
  • If you get kicked-off of your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, it can be extremely difficult to get replacement insurance

What Will It Cost Me? Where Do I Get Equipment Insurance?

Equipment insurance is not really that expensive. Typically, it works out (roughly) to be $1-2 for every $100 of coverage depending on the insurance carrier. For me, I pay about $500 for nearly $32,000 of coverage.

So you can generally get equipment insurance from any major insurance company. Allstate, Farmer’s, Geico’s will typically offer what is called a rider policy. There are also insurance companies that cater to photographers. I’m insured through Marsh Infinity and chose them because they used to be Professional Photographers of America’s (PPA) insurance provider, but here are some other ones to check-out:

  • Professional Photographers of America (PPA) now offers $15,000 of equipment insurance through PhotoCare for free as part of their membership benefits. Membership cost $194/year for students and $323/year for professionals, see more here.
  • Hill & Usher. Hill & Usher is considered the premier choice amongst working professionals.
  • RVNA Professional Photographer Insurance. Have not heard anything about them, and couldn’t really find any reviews either.

Whoever you chose to go with, it’s always important to do plenty of research. Be sure to ask specifically about what is covered, as not all insurance are alike. Ask if there are any fees to know about, what the deductible is, is your equipment covered while you’re on an international trip, if you use your equipment for recreation vs. business is it covered, and more. When in doubt, it is always best to go with the most reputable companies.

What is Liability Insurance?

While shopping for equipment insurance, you might also be asked about liability insurance. What liability insurance is, is additional insurance that covers you in the event that you get sued by someone for injury relating to you while photographing. For example, you set up a light stand and someone trips over it and they get hurt, they may sue you claiming you put your light-stand in a dangerous place. Or let’s say you’re running around shooting an event and one of your cameras hits a valuable vase at a hotel shattering it. Liability insurance would cover that. Liability insurance is essential for the working professional, otherwise you can easily fall into a mountain of debt because of lawsuits and more. It also covers extreme situations such as “non-performance” in the case of equipment failure. The equipment insurance will cover the equipment, and the liability insurance will cover you when the client sues you because you weren’t able to take any photos because your camera broke. That’s also one of the most important reasons to have a backup camera.

So do you really need liability insurance if you’re just doing this for fun? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be sued. If you have lots of valuable assets such as a house, it’s always good to add an extra layer of protection. If you do photography professionally, then it’s a must, otherwise you’re playing Russian roulette. It’s not a matter of if you’ll get sued, just when.

If you found this article interesting, be sure to join our Facebook group, Cosplay Photography Discussion Group. It is a place for cosplay photographers of all levels to learn from each other. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook as well!

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The Bui is principal photographer at Bui Photos specializing in wedding and engagement photography. He's also a co-founder of


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