Camera Insurance

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Today’s Question: Is there any advice you can give photographers about photography equipment insurance in and outside the US?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to insuring your camera gear is to be aware of the limitations that may be involved in an insurance policy that is not specifically geared toward camera gear. It is important to be sure that all of your valuable gear is protected within the context of your specific needs.

More Detail: First, you’ll want to be sure your insurance covers the full value of the equipment you are insuring, or at least that you’re comfortable with the amount of coverage you have. For example, many insurance policies specifically limit the amount of coverage provided for camera gear. Some travel insurance policies, for example, only cover up to $500 in camera gear.

You might also have insurance coverage you weren’t aware of. For example, a homeowner’s insurance policy may include coverage for personal effects that includes camera equipment. Similarly, some credit cards extend traveler’s insurance to you automatically when you trip. The point is to take an inventory of what coverage you might already have, and supplement it with additional insurance as needed.

Also, be aware that if you make a specific list of your camera gear along with serial numbers, you will generally receive a discount on your insurance coverage. This is often referred to as scheduled equipment versus unscheduled equipment coverage.

A variety of insurance companies actually offer insurance coverage that is specifically designed for photographers. This often includes a degree of business liability coverage, as well as insurance for your equipment. Pay attention to any exclusions in the insurance policy so you can be sure that you will be covered for international travel, and that coverage extends to theft, loss, or damage.

On a slightly related note, if you will be traveling internationally with camera gear it is a good idea to register that gear with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. If you return from an international trip with a large assortment of camera gear that looks new, it is possible you could be required to pay duty on the equipment based on the assumption that you purchased it abroad. By simply registering the equipment with Customs before departing on your trip, there will be no question about whether that equipment was acquired during your trip.