Business Insurance for Professional Photographers

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Business insurance is designed to protect a business owner's financial assets and is an essential investment for a professional photographer.

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About General Liability Insurance

All businesses, regardless of industry, face risks that should be covered by insurance. The most common and comprehensive type of policy business owners invest in is general liability insurance (or CGL).

Some of the risks CGL insurance covers are:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Medical payments
  • Legal defense and judgment
  • Personal and advertising injury

While businesses aren't legally required to carry general liability insurance, operating without it is extremely risky. If your business is sued, you could end up facing fees totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more). Having a sufficient CGL policy in place to help compensate for these damages is the only way to prevent this type of event from devastating your business.

Learn more about the risks covered by general liability insurance.

COMMON SITUATIONS THAT GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE WOULD COVER FOR A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

Example 1:  During a meeting in a client’s home to discuss an upcoming photo shoot, you walk through the living room, trip, and fall into her entertainment center. Your fall breaks a large television and some other equipment. General liability insurance would pay to replace her damaged property.

Example 2: One of your assistants accidentally knocks a client to the ground during a shoot. The client suffers a concussion and decides to sue your business. The general liability insurance you carry will pay for your legal defense fees. It will also cover payouts or settlements if they are required to resolve the case.

Example 3: A local photographer has sent you a letter to inform you that you are being sued for slander. Although you are not certain how or when you might have slandered the competitor, you know that you need to hire an attorney to defend yourself. Your general liability insurance policy will pay for your legal fees as well as the cost of a settlement if you need to settle the case out of court.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of perils a general liability insurance policy will cover, and some conditions may result in a particular peril not being covered. It's always best to talk to your agent in-depth about the specifics of your policy to avoid blind spots in coverage.

Cost of General Liability Insurance

On average, professional photographers in America spend between $300 - $600 per year for $1 million in general liability coverage.

Check out the chart below for a snapshot of average CGL expenditure across a variety of industries:

Graph showing average price of general liability insurance prices per industry

Several factors will determine the price of your policy. These include your:

  • Location
  • Deductible
  • Number of employees
  • Per-occurrence limit
  • General aggregate limit

You may be able to acquire general liability insurance at a discounted rate by purchasing it as part of a business owner's policy (BOP) rather than as a standalone policy. A BOP is a more comprehensive solution that includes multiple forms of coverage, such as business interruption and property insurance.

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OTHER TYPES OF COVERAGE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS NEED

While general liability is the most important type of insurance to have, there are several other forms of coverage you should be aware of. Below are some other types of insurance all professional photographers should obtain:

Professional Liability Insurance

While you strive to deliver the highest level of service to your clients, there’s always a chance someone might decide you made a mistake that caused them harm. If a client sues your business for negligence, professional liability insurance would cover your legal fees and any required settlement.

Commercial Property Insurance

You made a major investment in the photography equipment, supplies, furnishings, hardware, software, and real estate needed to establish your business. In the event of a fire, theft, or natural disaster, commercial property insurance would cover the cost of repairing or replacing your business-related property.

 

TYPES OF COVERAGE SOME PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS MAY NEED

In addition to the policies outlined above, there are a few other types of coverage your professional photographer may require depending on certain aspects of your operations. Some of these might not apply to you, so be sure to ask your agent which policies are right for your business.

Commercial Auto Insurance

If you have a car, truck, or van that you use primarily for business, your state most likely requires you to carry commercial auto insurance. With a commercial auto policy, you can get help with repair or replacement costs if you are involved in an accident. If you cause the accident, the policy will help pay for damages to other vehicles as well, along with medical treatment for anyone injured.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you have employees, chances are your state requires you to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp provides protection for your employees if they are injured performing job-related duties. If they are hurt on the job, they can get medical treatment through your policy. The policy will also help to cover lost wages if they are unable to work while they recover from their injuries.

Home-Based Business Insurance

If you run your business from your home, you may need this insurance to safeguard your equipment and the space in your home devoted to your business. A typical homeowners insurance policy may not cover business-related items or client injuries on your property if you don’t disclose you use your home for business purposes. You can typically purchase this coverage as part of a business owners policy (BOP).

Additional Steps to Protect Your Business

Although it's easy (and essential) to invest in business insurance, it should not be your frontline defense. Yes, insurance will compensate for your business' financial losses after an incident occurs, but it's much better to avoid losses altogether.

 

With this in mind, here are three things you can do to better protect your business:

  • Use legally robust contracts and other business documents. (We offer free templates for some of the most common legal forms.)
  • Set up a limited liability company (LLC) to protect your personal assets. (Refer to our guide for step-by-step instructions on how to form an LLC in your state.)
  • Streamline your business' internal processes. This will remove unnecessary variables from common tasks and create a safe, consistent environment for conducting business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in a business owner’s policy?

A typical business owner's policy includes general liability, business interruption, and property insurance. However, BOPs are often customizable, so your agent may recommend adding professional liability, commercial auto, or other types of coverage to your package depending on your company's needs.

What is the difference between business insurance and general liability insurance?

"Business insurance" is a generic term used to describe many different types of coverage a business may need. General liability insurance, on the other hand, is a specific type of coverage that business owners need to protect their assets.

Do I need insurance before I start a business?

You should invest in coverage for your business before your first interaction with a customer. Although the cost of insurance may seem high for a brand new business, it's best to be proactive when it comes to protecting your assets. After all, you can't buy insurance to cover a loss that has already occurred.

Will insurance protect my business from everything?

Not necessarily. Certain exceptions may be written directly into your policy, and some perils may be entirely uninsurable. Be sure to discuss the scope of your policy in-depth with your agent to avoid being blindsided by holes in your coverage.