Understanding Insurance – Part One

It’s the new year; a time to ride the feel-good momentum to do the things you should be doing. So let’s talk about insurance. You may have health insurance ( if not, there’s a post on that too). But today is about insuring your business. If you have any type of work, gear, or space to your business’ name, you should have insurance. It’s not as complicated as it seems, and it may not cost as much as you think.

There are two types of insurance for your business, property and liability. Property insurance covers your things, liability insurance covers you and your business. If your car is stolen and your gear was in the trunk, you can claim your property insurance. If you are ever sued (i.e. if a client trips over one of your flash stands on set), you can claim your liability insurance.

A Quick Insurance Glossary:

Policy– the contract that lays out the terms of your agreement (i.e., what is insured, and for how much)
Liability – the obligation to pay debts
Claim– a request from you to the insurance company asking for payment. (i.e., if your camera is stolen, you will file a claim for the cost to replace it)
Deductible– the amount of expenses paid out of pocket by you before the insurance will pay. (i.e., your camera may be insured with a $500 deductible. If it’s stolen and needs to be replaced for $1,200, you would be responsible to pay $500 and the insurance company would pay the remaining $700)

When should you get insurance?

I’ll fess up right now, I only got insurance last year. Before that, I was operating on a wing and a prayer, hoping that nothing bad would happen. CG&B is an insurance agency with special packages for media professionals and small businesses. I was referred to them by a number of colleagues, and have been really happy with the services they provide. I recently spoke with Louise Jones from CG&B to see when she suggest professionals start insuring themselves. Her answer was simple: “As soon as you start acquiring assets, like equipment or studio space, you should get insurance – protect yourself from disaster. If you are robbed, or there’s a fire, or if someone were to sue you, you want to be protected.” CG&B’s packages include both property and liability coverage.

The Process

1) Figure out what you need. Call, email, or have a look at the available policies.
2) Make a list of the equipment you want to insure, including serial numbers, and what the replacement values are. To find the replacement values, you may have to do a little research. For example, I have a Canon 5D, which is no longer available. If someone stole it, I would have to replace it with the mark II version. So I looked up the price of a 5D mark II, and entered that as the replacement value.
3) Fill out an application (most can be found online). For photographers it’s the basics (name, address, etc), some information about your workspace, (ie. how many smoke detectors do you have?), and your list of the equipment you want to insure including the replacement value, and serial numbers.
4) The insurance agency will provide you with a quote for the cost. If it meets your approval, you sign the quote back to them, pay the cost, and you’re good to go!


The cost for your insurance is based on the value of the things you’re insuring. If you’re insuring $100,000 worth of gear, it’s going to cost you more than if you’re insuring $20,000 worth of gear. Even if you think you don’t have much to insure, it adds up when you start calculating the replacement costs. Your quick mental inventory might be one camera, two lenses, one computer, and one monitor. But when you start thinking about filters, batteries, cards, tripods, external hard drives…(you know, everything that goes along with your ‘main’ stuff), the list can get pretty serious. Really think it through, one camera battery can cost $100. If you have three of them, that’ll be $300 to replace. CG&B’s packages for photographers start at $750 annually. (If you have $20,000 worth of gear, you can expect to pay around that.) You can make one large payment, or break it up into more manageable monthly payments.

My insurance covers me in Canada, and included a form to extend my coverage worldwide. Two days after I faxed in the worldwide coverage form, I got a job in the US and took some rented equipment with me; everything was covered and my timing couldn’t have been better.  The way I see it is I can’t afford not to be insured. It’s much safer to pay a little to be insured against things that could happen, rather than pay a lot to replace everything when something does happen.

 image source: Staudinger + Franke (isn’t it awesome?)

1 Comment

  1. Great article! Just a note, from what I remember, the CG&B will not cover equipment left in a car that gets stolen from there. As they put it, that’s stupidity to leave your gear there. I absolutely love have insurance through them and I love having the international coverage.


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