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Author Topic: Equipment Insurance?  (Read 2406 times)
Jack Flesher
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« on: August 30, 2005, 10:06:33 PM »
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Ask about a "personal articles policy" or "Scheduled property policy" both are sometimes also called "floater" policies.  

These are stand-alone policies with stated values for specifically listed items. Generally there are two sets of rates for camera gear, professional and non-professional.  

State Farm offers these as do other companies.
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mikeseb
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2005, 12:52:22 PM »
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Funny you should ask, as this issue has arisen for me also. My situation is about the same as yours, in that I will sell the occasional print, or do the occasional magazine assignment, but I'm not making a living from photography--far from it. I have an LLC set up to cover my photographic activities, but I made inquiries of my ins agent for a variety of scenarios.

Problem is, if you suffer damage to equipment and it can be demonstrated that you were engaged in profit-earning activities with it, you might find yourself uncovered unless you have business-type coverage. THis was the same scenario as when I insured a laptop computer--I had to take out a "marine" rider to my homeowners thru State Farm to cover it, as it was a business-use computer (depreciated for tax purposes, therefore can't plausibly claim personal use.)

My homeowners' policy would cover up to $10k of personal photo equipment for hobbyist use regardless of location.

I will probably buy an additional commercial policy that will cost me around $500-600 per year for $20k replacement coverage along with liability coverage of ca. $500k (required by some venues before they'll let you display work, believe it or not.) the vast majority of the cost is for equipment coverage, since liability claims for photographers are quite rare--much more likely to have equipment damaged or stolen, it seems.
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michael sebastian
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2005, 08:08:38 AM »
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As of this afternoon, I've contacted six agents (including the folks who used to cover my whole studio in L.A.) and they've all come back with the same thing... Based just on resale value (not even replacement value) for my cameras and lenses, plus the new digital back, the valuation is too high to cover on-and-off-site as personal property. I'd be over limit if all I had was one digital back and no camera to put it on! If I sell any image made with the gear, it's business equipment, and not eligible as personal property anyway.

Seems to me there are many ex-pros and advanced amateurs in this situation. "Don't ask, don't tell" if you sell some prints is a false sense of security, and you might lose more than cameras if they're stolen.

I'll check into Hank's PPA suggestion.


Were any of these Sate Farm agents? I expect not

The reaon I mention it is that I AM a State Farm agent (in the Bay Area), and this policy CAN be written in California. And as I said earlier, there is a specific rate for "professionals."  There are no limits on schedules as long as you are willing to pay the rates...

However, finding an agent willing to do it for just your camera gear may be a different story... A client looking to purchase a stand-alone (no other supporting business like a regular business policy, cars, home, etcetera) high value, high risk policy is a red flag for a potential fraud so many of us won't bother with it.

Cheers,
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mikeseb
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2005, 12:33:57 PM »
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An Inland Marine rider or floater policy is the way to go if you are not a professional.
Maybe Jack can tell us: what level of activity makes one a "professional"? An occasional sale of a fine-art print? A significant proportion of one's income from photography activities?

I'm in the former category and my agent is telling me I have to buy a business policy to cover my equipment, rather than that inland marine policy--which was how I covered a laptop previously.
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michael sebastian
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Ken
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2005, 08:45:56 PM »
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After more than 35 years of making a living in photography, I retired and still have most of the camera gear... even adding to it! As a business, insurance was all-inclusive, and I never thought about it, and never had a claim. I'm no longer interested in working for publication or other clients, but I'm happy selling occasional fine art photographs. That puts me in an insurance gray area... not a full-time business, but not completely a "hobby." I presume that many others here are in a similar situation. My home owner's insurance limits "non-professional" photo equipment coverage at $10,000... about the cost of just my medium format digital back. I spoke with another carrier, and the representative said they could add a home business rider to my home owner's insurance, but the equipment would be covered only while it was in my house.

What are YOU doing for equipment insurance? Any recommendations?
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Hank
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2005, 12:33:02 AM »
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You have to pop for membership first, but we have been delighted with our coverage through PPA.  Competitive rates and never a hassle on several claims we have made in the last 15 years:  One theft, one water dunking, and two totals from tripod flips.
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Ken
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2005, 05:07:25 PM »
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Ask about a "personal articles policy" or "Scheduled property policy" both are sometimes also called "floater" policies.
As of this afternoon, I've contacted six agents (including the folks who used to cover my whole studio in L.A.) and they've all come back with the same thing... Based just on resale value (not even replacement value) for my cameras and lenses, plus the new digital back, the valuation is too high to cover on-and-off-site as personal property. I'd be over limit if all I had was one digital back and no camera to put it on! If I sell any image made with the gear, it's business equipment, and not eligible as personal property anyway.

Seems to me there are many ex-pros and advanced amateurs in this situation. "Don't ask, don't tell" if you sell some prints is a false sense of security, and you might lose more than cameras if they're stolen.

I'll check into Hank's PPA suggestion.
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Jay Kaplan
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2005, 08:34:45 AM »
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I would follow Jack's advice. An Inland Marine rider or floater policy is the way to go if you are not a professional. I have a similar rider on my State Farm policy and my agent told me that it covers the equipment whether the loss occurs at home or away.

Also, check with your current carrier, most companies offer discounts for multiple lines of coverage.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2005, 05:17:36 PM »
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Maybe Jack can tell us: what level of activity makes one a "professional"?
This will vary (widely) by company and stae, hence the following is only a guide.  As always, check with your own provider to be certain of how your coverages will apply.

The word often used to distinguish between pro and not is "incidental..."  Meaning, is the amount of income derived from the activity "incidental" to one's primary livelyhood, or does it represent a more significant portion? The obvious problem with the above it is vague...  

Bottom line is if you're a pro, get the real business/pro coverages.  If your an amatuer, you probably don't need anything more than the vanilla personal lines coverages.  

If you fall inbetween, I recommend the following regardless of how much you earn doing whatever it is you do:

1) If you have a website listing services or products with pricing, get the pro policy(s).

2) If you only participate in the annual church art sale, the normal policy(s) are probably just fine.

3) If you participate in the annual church art sale, the local Rotary art sale and lead a few friends on a photo workshop for a long weekend each year, you're pushing the line and probably need the pro policy(s).

Hope this helps,
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