A question of photography insurance...


Insurance, Insurance, Insurance, love it or hate it this is now becoming an absolute requirement for the working photographer. It comes in all different shapes and sizes, from equipment cover right through public liability and professional indemnity to legal expenses and business interruption. But how much do you need? What do you need? And where is the best place to get it from?

As you wander around the Society Convention looking at all the trade stands and listening to the speakers, maybe getting a shot or two of the models on display, it is worth noting that it is not always going to be this good. There will be disappointments when you don't get that job you spent so much time on, when a wedding turns out to be a washout and when that new camera you saved for turns out to be not quite as good as you thought. There is one thing that you can do to take your mind off some of these woes though, that is to make sure you are adequately covered in the event of something going wrong for you. Insurance isn't going to be the answer to all of your business problems, but it may just assist you when things go horribly wrong, allowing you to get back on your feet and continuing with the job you love. There are a number of different covers and different insurers on the market, so which are right for you?

Firstly, always check with your professional body if possible. A good way to look at what you may or may not need is to visit the Society's website: www.swpp.co.uk/insurance.htm.This will outline some of the covers available and you will be able to make an informed decision and decide if you think you need them or not.

Public Liability and Professional Indemnity

DO NOT work without public liability (PL). You can never be sure what will happen and although you may feel that you won't cause any accidents, what if it is out of your hands? Someone moves your camera bag and then a member of the public falls over it? In the very worse cases, PL can literally be a lifesaver. I believe there was a case not so long ago that demonstrated this, where a photographer was undertaking work for a local authority - luckily he had £5 million PL cover. As he was taking pictures of the mayor shaking hands at a civic ceremony, he stepped back and knocked an old lady who was behind him on the pavement. She wobbled and fell, hitting her head on the corner of the paving stone separating the pavement and road. The accident left her severely brain damaged and she required constant care 24 hours a day as she was unable to look after herself. The photographer was taken to court and the family won £3.1 million in damages to ensure her care for the remainder of her life. This was a case in the UK!

Courts take a dim view of some accidents now, and with the growth of the 'where there is blame there is a claim' culture, it is very important that you arrange suitable cover.

Whilst these things do happen, it should be pointed out that an incident like this is very rare, in reality you have probably better odds winning the lottery, but they do happen and therefore it is important that you are covered when your numbers come up...
The other thing PL covers is third-party property damage. This would cover you if you damaged someone else's property whilst conducting some photographic work. For example, you could lean against a wall and knock part of it over with your weight as you are taking the picture! The fact that the wall was not 'secure' enough is no protection in law. You would be responsible for the repair to it - after all, the property owner would argue that the wall was fine before you leaned on it! A simple accident like this could cost in the region of a £1,000 - something you wouldn't want to have to find as a photographer! Or, a more common claim would be knocking over something in a client's house whilst you were there on business. Unlike other parts of PL cover, there is traditionally a £250 excess for third party property damage, so it is worth remembering to try to be as careful as you can when you're dealing with others!

PL cover is for damage to another person or their property whilst professional indemnity, or PI as it is known, covers your liability for failing to produce work to a professional standard. Professional indemnity insurance provides you with financial protection for your business and the costs of defending claims made against you, including damages that may become payable. Claims can occur where a client or other person suffers financial loss as a result of alleged errors or omissions on your part.

PI cover is a MUST for one-off events like weddings, where you have been booked to provide photographs, but is unlikely to be needed at events where you would 'sell' photographs afterwards to make money - after all, if you don't get the shot that is wanted, you won't sell any pictures! You may be sued unfairly by a client who is merely dissatisfied, but has no valid claim. This would involve you in substantial legal costs and non-productive time. From the legal standpoint, the position with regard to the 'duty of care' is the same for any professional. If you offer a service in a specific area or set yourself up as a specialist, you owe a 'duty of care' to anybody who might reasonably rely upon your service and advice over and above that owed by the ordinary man in the street.

A good example of where PI would be useful is if you were to undertake wedding photography and the bride and groom felt the pictures you produced were substandard or you were unable to produce them as the film had been lost or stolen, or the data card wiped. They may then choose to issue legal proceedings against you. If this was the case, PI insurance would cover the costs of defending and/or settling the claim.

Always look to buy this cover from a reputable insurance provider in your specialist market. A number of high street insurance brokers will charge you £60-£100 for PL cover but the most common carrier usually won't cover you whilst you're in someone's home and a number of the other Insurers just don't understand anything about photography!

If you're a member of the Society, then a combined PL of £2 million and PI of £75,000 will cost you £110 per year if you are based in the UK with Aaduki.

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Call us on 020 3633 2280 for more advice or if you have a specific question.


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