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Camera Gear Insurance

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by JerseyJay, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. Hello,

    We covered that topic in Jonathan's thread but I think this deserves its own spot. I think a lot of us forget about this step and once you hit that 5-10K mark, I think it is time to think about the policy.

    1. What insurance are you using (name of the company) ?
    2. How much (monthly/annualy) ?
    3. Are there tiers or there is only one fixed amount ?

    Please be as specific as you can.
  2. Mine was a general business policy (my stupid agent issued me the wrong one, since there was an actual camera equipment policy, that I found out too late). Anyways, I'm covered for up to $10,000 for on site losses and up to $5000 off site losses. I got insurance after I was the victim of theft. To be honest, this is my worst year for camera losses this is how many camera bodies I've gone through:

    D100 - Stolen
    D2H - Damaged
    D70 Damaged
    D100 - Sold
    D2H - New Replacement
    D70 - New Replacement

    Within the span of about a year, I'll be going through 6 cameras! haha!
  3. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Mine is with State Farm. It is a separate policy from my vehicles and homeowners. It cost $11 per $1K of equipment per year I believe. I got mine right after I got the D2H and 300 f2.8 (to go along with the D70, 70-200VR, 1.4, 1.7, and 2. TC's, SB-800, etc.).

  4. [quote="Jonathan F
    Within the span of about a year, I'll be going through 6 cameras! haha![/quote]

    This sounds like a Canon user, just to be "keepin' up" :lol: :lol: (oh, somebody SHOOT this guy...)

    OK, back on-topic. My insurance company, Farmers, unlike State Farm won't write a rider for my equipment. Who else is good? Do I join one of the organizations who provides insurance or are there other independents that are reasonable for this type of policy?

  5. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I have everything covered under a renters policy, against stolen etc, and an all risk for specific equip.

    All risk, in case it goes in the drink, so to speak, is 1.82 per hundred, with Geico.

  6. My homeowners Insurance with Farmers Ins. Co. automatically insures my equipment without any additional charge. They do that at home and abroad.
  7. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005
    My rider is through Auto Owners. Its called an Inland Marine Floater. Like Frank's its about 11$ per thousand. It covers anything and everything with a 250.00 deducatable. If I break it, it gets stolen, lost, etc etc etc. I get paid. It gives me piece of mind.

    My agent is Bill Grimwood. He can take care of you and is a camera guy too. Leica to be exact. A little too rich for my blood but cool none the less.

    You can reach him at www.grimwood.net
  8. Gordon, when I spoke to my agent the first question he asked was "Do you sell any of your photos?" and as soon as I said yes, he said "No" :lol: . This is the crux of the issue for me, I need something that will cover me in a "business" sense. I have known others that have run into problems under those conditions. Now this could also be a difference with what they are allowed to sell in each state as well, might just be a Washington thing. I would certainly much prefer to keep everything with one agent if I could.

    Patrick, thanks for the link, I'll check them out and tell him where the referral came from. Unless, of course, he doesn't like you and will charge me more if I drop your name.......
  9. obelix


    Mar 17, 2005
    Fremont, CA, USA
    State Farm Personal Articles Insurance, I pay $50 per year for $4700 worth of gear. Covers dropping, theft and so on throughout the world.

    Renter's insurance may not cover damages outside the home!
  10. For those of you using homeowner's insurance to cover your cameras, check the deductable and the depreciation schedule.

    My Personal Articles Policy through State Farm costs 1.25% of original value, and there's no deductable or depreciation. It covers me against loss, breakage, and theft.
  11. Thanks for that input Bill. Perhaps I should hava another chat with my agent.
  12. I hope I'm wrong and that Utah is different, but it sure would be best to know before you run into a problem, eh?
  13. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Jay :

    Actually, this is a timely thread for me, as I just managed the whole insurance issue today. Jonathan's recent mishap was a definite goad for me to get this addressed and closed, sad though it is that Jonathan had that occur.

    Be advised that this is a bit lengthy of a post, as answering your questions requires some discourse.

    The first thing to know is that insurance is a state-by-state issue. What works in one state doesn't work in another. Try and get auto insurance from State Farm in New Jersey, for example. Doesn't exist anymore. The rules for what is covered also vary. It's a complex set of issues when you, for example, compare insurance in Utah with New Hampshire.

    The second thing to note is, as was pointed out in another post, if you sell any photos, homeowners' insurance (typically) won't cover your losses. If you use the camera in your work, although you're not selling photos individually or through a stock agency, it's not covered by homeowner's insurance. You have to get business insurance for those cases.

    I fall into the latter group - my photos are used in my reports, assessments, and documentation, but I'm not paid by my clients on a shot-by-shot basis for those. So business insurance was indicated for me.

    If you have a large loss on homeowners insurance, the adjuster can hold a great deal of power in determining if a claim will be covered. Although I've not seen this with photographic equipment, I've seen adjusters attempt to minimise payouts on insurance in other contexts, and they've not always been particularly nice about it. Having had that observation, I was doubly determined to go ahead with business insurance.

    The third thing to be aware of is that business insurance costs more, but usually addresses more, and is then fully tax deductable. The tax deduction, in my case, at least, about addresses the differential costs.

    Business insurance will run between $1.20/$100 to $1.50/$100 of coverage for equipment, usually with a $250 - $500 deductible, and depends on some other factors such as location. Note that accepting a much higher deductible usually drops the rate. It's a fool's bargain, IMO, because one relatively small loss will wipe out ten years of "savings", but there are indeed "tiers" of coverage.

    I insured everything, bodies, lenses, teleconverters, tripods, heads, filters, diopters - the whole package. I figure that the incidental costs of the associated items being insured are outweighed if I have a catastrophic fire or something. Breakage is also covered. It's running me $1.50/$100 of coverage added to my standing business policy with the Hartford. I've referenced full replacement value with an authorised Nikon dealer, and also referenced today's costs taken from B&H's website as a baseline for the equipment.

    Lastly, be aware that most airlines do not provide any recompense for photographically related equipment that's checked. If one looks at the Rules of Carriage for most airlines, they exclude electronics and photographic equipment. If you're transporting your gear in carry-on, and they lose the tripod, head, and some associated stuff that has been checked, the airlines will try and screw you out of coverage because it's "photographic equipment". Happened to a friend of mine. If they make you "gate check" your gear (e.g., bodies and lenses), they accept no liability.

    You can ask for a "declared value" for the luggage, but, as an example, if you look at the baggage handling information for Delta (http://www.delta.com/travel/plan/baggage_info/declaring_value/index.jsp), they clearly state, "Delta is not responsible or liable for cash, camera equipment, commercial effects, computer software and equipment, electronic equipment, fragile articles, jewelry, lifesaving medication, negotiable papers, irreplaceable business documents, works of art or other similar valuable items contained in checked or unchecked baggage. These items should be carried by the passenger."

    Comprehensive insurance is very strongly indicated for the travelling photographer.

    In the end, insurance is a case of hoping for the best and planning for the worst. In planning for the worst, you should really look at the costs of business interruption, lengthy delays with some companies on claims, available capital for replacement, and a general loss of convenience. Saving a small amount on a yearly basis isn't going to assist in any of those issues, by and large.

    I hope that this answers the questions you posed.

    John P.
  14. John is right. Getting some sort of dedicated business or camera insurance is the way to go. One claim on your homeowners policy can cancel the whole thing. Also if your equipment is used for work, they won't cover it. I recommend reading the policy though, if it wasn't used for work at the time of damage or theft, it's possible to claim the loss, but it depends on the insurer.

    The claims adjuster didn't really have much to argue with me. I had a police report, ambulance, ER records and I was in the hospital for a week. It's important to file a police report if theft was involved. Also go through your policy handbook before calling in the loss. It's important that there isn't any loop holes where the claims adjuster can screw you in. Though he did say my policy only covered deprecation value, but the only piece of equipment that deprecated was my D2H. He minused my deductible and sent me the check.

    I go through American Family Insurance and they're really good with all my insurance needs. If they are located in your state I recommend opening a policy with them.
  15. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Jonathan :

    Excellent commentary...

    Folks need to remember that some (definitely not all, but certainly some) adjusters are rewarded for minimising payouts on insurance. The manner in which this plays out has been subject to a number of critical articles in the press and has had the attention of various state regulatory commissions, so I won't try to recite those issues. Nonetheless, be aware that an adjuster represents the insurance company, and not the consumer.

    In addressing the potential for insurance claims to be denied or very much delayed, most people find themselves poring over the fine print in their policies, which is written in relatively impenetrable legalese. But there is a simple manner to address this for the consumer.

    If the policy doesn't overtly state that it covers an issue (e.g., theft), it isn't covered. If a policy excludes an issue (e.g., a homeowner's policy states no work related losses are covered), it isn't covered.

    There's no mercy or other kindness in how this is handled. Insurance companies make their money by getting more money from their customers than they have to pay out. That's not immoral or unethical in and of itself, but the manner in which this plays out can be harsh.

    Another point of importance to consider is that it doesn't matter what your agent says about the policy if the policy's written documentation contradicts their comments. Ten agent can promise that you'll have a rental camera provided for that big shoot along with all the lenses you need, but if the policy has no rental or business interruption clause, you're Simply Out of Luck (a better, more PG way to say SOL).

    Jonathan's comments about police reports, ER records, and, so on are dead-on for required documentation in the case of an accident or theft. In the case of breakage without an auto accident or such thing, a short concise statement about the manner in which the breakage occurred will be needed.

    Note again, that if the insurance policy has a clause about high risk activities, the insurance company might not cover the damage to the camera when the hang-glider crashes with the camera dropping to the rocky ground. Know your policy !

    And let's hope nobody else has occasion to find themselves needing to get insurance to pay out in the next while !

    John P.
  16. Thank you guys for your feedback. I'm sure everyone appreciated your input.

    We all should take care of this step before its too late.
  17. Well ... few months later I'm still in the process ....

    I called State Farm the other day to get some information about Personal articles policy.

    Personal articles
    You may have more valuable possessions than you realize. Your Homeowners Policy can provide some coverage, but with deductibles and limitations. A Personal Articles Policy can provide the additional coverage that you may need. Some items the Personal Articles Policy may cover are:

    * Jewelry
    * Furs
    * Cameras
    * Musical Instruments
    * Silverware/Goldware
    * Golf Equipment
    * Fine Art (such as paintings, vases, antique furniture, oriental rugs, rare glass, and china)
    * Collectibles
    * Sports Equipment
    * Computer Equipment

    There are different deductible options. I got the following prices:

    - 10,000 of equipment - 1 year / 100 deductible - $122 per year
    - 10,000 of equipment - 1 year / ZERO deductible - $136 per year

    Prices are excellent IMO !

    I was also asked to provide ALL receipts in order to get full value. If receipts are NOT available, I would need to get appraisal.


    Who can do appraisals ? Local camera shop ?
  18. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Depending on where you purchased, it may be possible to get copies of your receipts. For instance with B&H and many other online venors you can pull up your order history from the website and print a receipt. That's what I did for most of my stuff, insurance agent said it was fine.
  19. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Jay :

    Heh. I'm wondering if this thread is the "oldest revived discussion" on the boards at the moment. :wink:

    I'll reiterate the comments that I made almost a year ago about business insurance. If you ever sell a photo, in their eyes you're "professional", regardless of whether this fits the IRS criteria in this area. If you use the camera in your work for documentation purposes (this classification fits me, for example), you're "professional". Almost any work related activity that includes the camera makes you "professional". The definition seems to be in favour of the insurance industry, IMO.

    So be it. The net result is that I have my camera gear covered within my business policy. If I need to get a catastrophic loss addressed, I really do not wish to be deep in the swamp negotiating with the reptiles.

    John P.
  20. Jeff,

    Good to know. However what about "heavily/lightly used" items purchased from other hobbyists. You can't produce receipt for those, at least not all of them.

    What about people who are running photo business and after X amount of years they decide to open up a policy. Not sure if every photographer keeps their receipts for that many years.

    Is appraisal the only way out ? If so, where ?
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