Insuring Your Photography Equipment

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During the last week I recorded an inventory of all my photography equipment. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I have and can name each item. This time I wrote down, if you can call using a computer writing down, the complete name of each item, the serial number and the price I would have to pay if I were going to purchase it now.

I was amazed at the total value of my equipment and the items shown above are only part of what I have including a Canon EOS 5D Mark II I purchased after this photo was taken. When you buy your equipment one piece at a time, because you can’t afford to buy all of it at once, you have a tendency to lose sight of the total amount of money you’ve spent on your equipment. At least, that’s what I did.

I made the inventory for insurance purposes. My equipment has always been covered under my homeowner’s insurance policy and the knowledge of that coverage gave me somewhat of a false sense of security. Granted, all the equipment was covered for the normal causes of loss (fire, theft, etc.) that a homeowner’s policy covers. However, I have a sizeable deductible on my homeowner’s to keep the premium reasonable and because I’ve never had to make a claim on my policy (knock on wood).

Two things caused me to discuss the coverage with my insurance company. First, I’m moving out of the house I live in that’s located in a gated community and has a monitored alarm system and moving into an apartment complex for a few months whilst waiting for new home in a new location to be built. Second, I know someone that dropped their very expensive 100-400mm zoom lens and broke it.

Okay, the first reason is just me and assuming the apartment I will be living in is actually less secure than my house, the equipment would still be covered under my personal property insurance. However, none of the equipment would be covered if I dropped a camera and lens into the Grand Canyon (yes, it’s happened before, just not by me).

My insurance carrier has, as do most if not all carriers, what they call a Valuable Personal Property (VPP) policy that insures certain listed valuable items – jewelry, firearms, photography equipment, etc. In a conversation with my insurance company I learned that if I had one of these policies on my photography equipment there would be no deductible, it would be insured for any loss including being a klutz and dropping in on a concrete walkway or in a lake, and it would be insured for the replacement cost up to the amount listed on the inventory provided to the insurance carrier.

If you own a substantial collection of photography equipment and don’t have this kind of insurance, I strongly recommend you look into getting it. I have it now and have asked myself why I didn’t purchase it a long time ago.

If you decide to buy special insurance on your equipment (VPP) I also recommend that when you list all of your gear for the insurance company that you use the MSRP and not the 50% off sales price you paid when you purchased it. If you have a loss and have to replace something, it may not be on sale any longer. Keep in mind that the insurance company is going to cover the replacement cost up to the amount you listed on your inventory. If it’s on sale when you need to replace the lost item, the carrier will pay you the sales price. If it isn’t on sale and you listed the sales price, they’ll pay you the listed price even if it costs twice as much to replace it.

If you already have this kind of insurance, way to go. If not, talk to your insurance company or agent and make sure you have the kind of coverage that fits your needs. There may come a day that you’ll be glad you did. I found the cost of the VPP to be very reasonable and not nearly as much as I expected it to be.

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  • Craig Mullenbach

    +1 for extra photo insurance.   I also got a fine art schedule added to my homeowners policy which covers all my works whether in my house, in a gallery or other show.

  • Steve Russell

    Good idea Craig.  Thanks for the added information.