One of the most problematic issues with photography is also one of the most glaring; the cost of all this gear. A new pro camera can easily cost anywhere from two thousand to eight thousand dollars. A second camera, assorted lenses, tripods, ballheads, etc, etc, etc .. it’s insane how much this can quickly add up to (not to mention increasing photo requests for < $75.00 usage – another topic).
Compounded by the fragility of most of this gear, photographers face a real issue; use it, be careful with it, and try not to have to spend more $$$ on it than necessary; i.e., don’t break it. So, given the fragility of the gear, for most of us, that means insurance.
Several years ago I researched this, and it seemed that, for me, a personal articles policy with State Farm was the best route to go. It wasn’t too costly, and yes, they covered all my gear, knew I used it professionally, and life was good. Just to clarify,
Me: “I use this photo gear professionally, is it covered?”
State Farm: “Yes”.
I added the cost to my car insurance, and moved on. Too easy.
This past fall I bought a brand new 500mm lens from Allen’s Camera in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Great folks, and a great price. I then went to my local State Farm rep, showed them the receipt and added the expensive lens to my list of insured gear. All good.
A few weeks later, while on a trip using the lens, I get a phone call, asking if I use the lens professionally. I call back after my trip is done, and tell them yes.
Last week I get a letter officially stating they will not renew my insurance policy because my policy doesn’t cover professional use. I call back and politely ask ‘wtf?’
They now wanted to know what kind of photography I do. Do I shoot landscapes and wildlife, etc? ‘Yes, nature photography’, said I.
2 weeks later, they call me back to tell me that after going round in circles with their insurance adjusters, they have the bad news (for me) that they don’t cover nature photography use. If I shot weddings, they’d be all over it. But, alas, no coverage for nature photography. None at all. It’s too risky.
Aside: I’ll note the irony here. Earlier this summer, Steve Weaver joined me for a great 2 week trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We spent 2 weeks in the great wilderness shooting nature at its finest. Steve VERY nearly had to cancel the trip, because of an injury he suffered trying to protect his gear from hitting the floor, while shooting … you guessed it .. a wedding, just 6 weeks prior to our trip. Steve, next time, let your camera hit the floor, don’t fracture your elbow, and State Farm will buy you a new camera.
The moral to the story: know that your insurance company just might not be selling you what it is they’re telling you you’re buying.
So, now I’m in the business of shopping for gear insurance again. Total bummer, because I COULD be outside skiing. Carefully, of course, so as not to damage my camera gear.