Why You Should Get Insurance For Your Gear

Photo by Bryan Fenstermacher (used under the CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Photo by Bryan Fenstermacher (used under the CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Photography is an expensive hobby. You might’ve started with something small and inexpensive, like a point and shoot camera. But, then the passion was probably too much to control, so you moved onto a more manual camera, or even a DSLR. Then came all the fancy lenses and tripod. And, before you knew it, all your camera gear became more valuable than your car.

If that sounds anything like you, then it might be a good idea to consider getting insurance for all of your camera gear.

Insurance helps protect the large investment you’ve made in camera gear and it gives you “peace of mind” — so you don’t have to worry about your gear getting stolen, and instead you can just focus on taking photographs (pun intended, heh).

Most insurance that you’ll find for camera gear will protect you from robbery, but there are also policies that can protect you from things like accidentally dropping your camera or lens.

I think the “peace of mind” that insurance gives you is valuable, because it creates a less stressful environment for photography. And less stress and anxiety can lead to more creativity.

But, more importantly, insurance protects you in the event that someone steals your gear. It might be an unlikely scenario, but for a few dollars per month, you can protect your gear completely.

Insurance turns your camera gear into little “savings accounts”

Although photography is an expensive hobby, one of the good things is that some gear doesn’t lose value. Sure, with digital, the camera bodies do lose a significant amount of value after a few years, but the lenses rarely lose any value (and sometimes even go up in value).

So, if you’ve got yourself a nice collection of high quality lenses, and then insure them against robbery and accidents, then you basically have a little “savings account.” It’ll even get “interest” if the lenses go up in value ;)

Where to get camera insurance

If you just do photography as a hobby, then you’ll probably be able to insure your gear through your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. They usually have an add-on for “valuable personal property.” If that’s the case, then make sure your gear is still covered if the robbery occurs away from your home. As nature photographers, this is important because most of the time we’re using our camera gear out on the trail, far away from home.

If you’re a professional photographer, then you’ll probably have to go with a commercial plan somewhere. I can’t personally recommend any good insurance companies for this, but before you sign up for a policy, make sure you read about other people’s experience with that company.

Also, make sure you read the policy in detail, so you’re always aware of exactly what’s covered.

What do you think?

Has camera insurance ever saved you money and/or trouble? Or, are there any insurance companies you’ve had good experience with? If so, please share with us by leaving a comment below, thanks!! :)

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steveb2About the Author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, software engineer, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of southern California.

Comments

  1. Steve, your article is a reminder to all. If you are a professional, insurance is part of your overall business plan.You will pay more, but the risk factor is much greater for your equipment.

    On the other hand, for amateurs, like me, listen up. I moved from a 50D to a new 5D3 and 24-70mm. I decided that I did not want to buy this gear a second time, if something bad happened. I called USAA and outlined a bunch of possible loss or damage situations. USAA said give us models, serial numbers and costs( I had to have purchase receipts in the event of a claim) So, I needed to pay them close to $200 per year for coverage on my major photo gear items.
    So, nothing is going to happen and I am paying for extra coverage over my homeowner policy. That was my hope. Well…………..Ouch!
    The velcro on a well know manufacture’s bag failed and my camera plus lens fell about two feet on to a heavy rug. I knew something was not right with the body and the lens. I called USAA and they authorized Canon service to examine my gear. Repair estimates close to $800 approved and I was reimbursed for the total amount.
    The process was not fun, but consider the math on a 5D3 and 24-70mm.
    I would recommend that you ask questions of your insurance company or agent in advance and in detail. I even asked what if my gear was “lost” in the airport TSA process? It would be covered.
    The insurance is for specified valuable personal property and you want to have coverage on those expensive items. Good time to cover jewelry for your partner. Say, ” a diamond ring”. Someone may not gripe about the premium when she/he knows the “rock” is covered.

  2. Just be aware that as with most insurance, if you use it when a camera or lens is stolen or damaged, your premiums may go up, or the company may decided to drop the coverage. That said, it is still a good idea, because sometimes bad things happen, no matter how careful you are.

    One more thought–consider an extended care warranty when you purchase equipment. I had a camera replaced, no problem, when it was exposed to salt water and was unrepairable.

  3. Steve – great post! I couldn’t agree more. I work professionally, but have full gear coverage as supplemental rider on my homeowner’s insurance. My plan covers anything from theft to water damage and coverage goes me anywhere I go. I also carry $2 million in general liability — which is an absolute necessity if you shoot professionally, especially if you shoot on-location. The plans are very reasonable. Both together run me about $40 per month. The piece of mind is PRICELESS, though. When you’re shooting in the outdoors, wading in a river to get that perfect shot… it’s great knowing that you’re not out thousands of dollars, if you fall in.

    • Anyone who provides a service, particularly off-site, should invest in (and I said “invest, in,” not just “buy”) general liability insurance. Once you’re out of your office, the uncertainties of events beyond your control, but within your legal responsibility make being insured a necessity. The bigger the brass ring you reach for requires a greater degree of coverage.

  4. Uwe Hoffmann says:

    USAA Homeowner’s Insurance will allow you to cover your personal camera equipment, and you can even add computer equipment for up to $2000.00. My professional camera equipment for my business, however is covered under a different policy with a different rate. I can only strongly advise everyone to have their stuff insured. Tripods topple, wash out, even with snowshoe attachments sink in snow drifts, sand on the beach, or in the desert can ruin both cameras and glass. Humidity in jungles, frost in Alaska, a charging bison, an enthusiastic driver with a 4×4 in Kenya – all can turn your prized (and pricey) camera and glass into scrap – it smarts less when you know you’ll be able to replace it soon.

  5. I, too, have USAA. I had a D800 + 24-70 fall out of our big diesel truck. The repairs were covered by USAA. Sure, I’ve had insurance for probably 20 years and only needed it twice. And some of my lenses are worth what I’ve paid in premiums over those 20 years!

  6. Michael White says:
  7. Rick Pulliam says:

    Getting insurance saved having to buy 2 new lenes in 4 months. It wasn’t my fault, honest. Well maybe I could have prevented the first one, but the second one was better than someone getting a concussion.
    First one was in Ireland, who would thing there would beg a really soggy bog on the top of a ridge. My wife stepped into one spot and it was over her boot, she decided to try another step, now up to mid thigh and sinking. If I was thinking I would have put the camera and bag down on a convenient rock, but I didn’t slipped and fell on the lens and body, body fine, lens was toast, Insurance paid $600 to fix it.
    4 months later, we were in Tanzania. The call came in that a cheetah had been spotted. Since we were bouncing around really good, I decided to put the camera and lens on the seat behind me, with a couple of bean bags between me and them. The driver went around a corner and slammed on the breaks, humongous water filled hole in the track. You guessed it, the camera and lens didn’t stop with the land cruiser, body tried to go on one side of my leg and the lens on the other. Insurance paid $700. Of course I think that putting them on the seat was well worth it, If I hadn’t the person would have gotten a D2x and an 80 – 400 lens to the back of her head.

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