Film equipment insurance might be cheaper than you think
Every photo and video shoot has risks for any production company. Your camera equipment could be damaged, misplaced, or stolen. Replacing your own equipment is expensive, but the right business insurance and equipment coverage can be an affordable way of protecting your wallet and your business.
Whether you produce documentaries, commercials, special event videos, or feature films, business insurance can cover your risks of managing on-screen talent, your crew, and any support staff.
It’s important for photographers, photography studios, videographers, and video production studios to understand what kind of risks they could encounter, which insurance policies meet their needs, and how much these policies cost.
Video production equipment carries high risk for small businesses
Collectively, the cost of video production equipment is one of the most significant expenses for one’s business. Repairing and replacing damaged or stolen gear comes with a high price tag, which is why many in the photography and film industry use video equipment insurance to help offset these costs.
Business insurance for photography and video professionals will typically provide coverage for most equipment that a videographer would use, including:
- Lenses and filters
- Lighting equipment, including reflectors and light modifiers
- Audio recorders
- Boom poles, tripods, grip gear, and dollies
- Camera rigs and gimbals
- Computers, editing software, and external hard drives
- Cables, batteries, and camera bags
What is excluded from film production insurance coverage?
If you rent or loan any of your video equipment to someone else, it’s unlikely to be covered while it’s in that person's possession. Your film gear insurance also might not cover you for equipment rentals or if you fail to secure your own equipment, such as leaving it inside of an unlocked vehicle where it could be stolen.
How much does film production insurance cost?
So how much can you expect to pay for video production insurance coverage? It depends on a few different factors about your business, including:
Deductibles and coverage limits
The deductible and coverage limits on your business insurance policy can significantly shape your monthly payment over a full year of coverage.
A deductible is how much you would have to pay out-of-pocket before your insurance policy kicks in. It might be tempting to choose a policy with a high deductible and a lower premium cost, but this could put you in a financial bind later if you have an expensive claim.
For example, if you manage a video production company that owns several pieces of equipment, it may be recommended to purchase a policy with a lower deductible due to the higher associated risk of equipment being damaged or stolen.
You also have two types of coverage limits:
- Per-occurrence: How much coverage a policy offers on each individual claim.
- Aggregate: The total coverage for all claims within a year, on your annual policy.
It’s important to choose policy limits that give you an affordable premium, with the coverage amounts that you need to protect your bottom line.
By paying just a few hundred dollars per year, you can protect equipment that is worth tens of thousands of dollars and shield your business from common risk exposures, such as lawsuits and theft.
Film equipment you own
If you own a photography or video production company that uses several kinds or high-quality cameras or videos, you will want to choose a policy that has a higher coverage limit. This would cause your insurance policy to cost more but would also keep your expensive equipment protected from any common risks.
If your company only uses a few or average quality cameras or videos, you could probably purchase a policy that has a lower coverage limit, which would help keep your insurance costs lower.
The kind of work you do
The work you do also impacts the cost of your insurance policy. If you travel a lot for your video or photo shoots or shoot in places that have higher risks, you should look at a policy with higher coverage limits, which may result in a higher cost for your coverage.
What types of insurance coverage do photographers and videographers need?
When it comes to selecting coverage for a photo or video business, it is recommended that professionals investigate these policies:
Also known as “camera insurance,” videography property insurance covers most of your video equipment, including cameras, lenses, computers, and editing bays, in the event that your gear gets damaged or stolen. This will help you get back on track to finish a project. In most cases, you can apply coverage to both owned and rented equipment, as well as studio spaces.
Videography property insurance starts around $35 per month, or $420 annually.
General liability insurance
General liability insurance covers lawsuits over copyright violations and third-party injuries (non-employees) that happen at your office or on set. It also provides coverage for third-party property damage, including accidental harm to another person’s property, such as a nearby car getting damaged by a stunt gone wrong. This policy is especially an important consideration if you're shooting on location.
Videographers pay a median of $23 per month, or $275 per year, for general liability coverage. Most photo and video businesses (96%) choose general liability policies with a $1 million per-occurrence limit and a $2 million aggregate limit.
Business owner's policy (BOP)
A business owner’s policy (BOP) combines general liability insurance and commercial property coverage under one policy. It is usually less expensive than buying each coverage separately. Most video professionals benefit from a business owner’s policy, as it will typically cover most of the associated risks with shooting with your own equipment in multiple locations.
Video professionals pay around $43 per month for a business owner’s policy, or around $520 per year.
Professional liability insurance
Also known as errors and omissions insurance, professional liability insurance covers you in the event that a customer sues you over undelivered or unsatisfactory work. If you’re unable to finish a project because a hard drive crashed or was stolen, your property insurance would cover the damage or theft of the equipment – but not the cost of a lawsuit from your customer. Professional liability would cover your attorney’s fees, court costs, and any settlements.
Video professionals typically pay a median premium of $53 per month, or $639 annually, for professional liability insurance. The rate will depend on the type of services you offer and other key factors.
Over half of photo and video businesses (58%) choose professional liability policies with a $1 million per-occurrence limit and a $1 million aggregate limit.
Workers' compensation insurance
If your video production company has any employees, you will also most likely need workers’ compensation insurance. This policy is required in almost every state and provides essential coverage for workplace injuries and related liabilities. This includes coverage of medical bills and partial lost wages.
A workers’ comp policy costs around $55 per month, or $662 annually, for video professionals.
How to save money on film production insurance
There are several strategies that you can use to save on your film production insurance, including:
Evaluating your equipment costs
Your photo and video equipment will be the largest and most important purchase for your company. The brand and quality of your equipment will determine your specific cost. It’s important to evaluate and be mindful of your total equipment costs, especially when creating a budget.
Below is a summary of the most common equipment you’ll need and the average cost:
- Camera: $300-$500
- Tripod: $20-$50
- Lighting set: $200-$300
- Backdrop system: $40-$50
- Reflectors: $20-$30
Claiming write-offs on taxes
You should keep a detailed track of purchases for your company and claim write-off on taxes, when possible.
You’d be surprised by how many expenses you can count as a write-off. Examples include:
- Photography equipment, such as cameras, camera lenses, and tripods
- Creative and editing software
- Print advertising
- Business cards
- Studio expenses, such as rent and bills
- Online advertising, including Facebook Ads and Google Adwords
- Creative assistance, including the hiring of an editor, designer or set assistance
If you’re working from home, you could also claim your wi-fi bill, home office furniture, and your power and water bills as write-offs. Likewise, if you travel for work, you could claim your gas bills, parking costs, and tolls.
Combining insurance policies
Combine insurance policies when possible. For example, it is often cheaper to buy a BOP than purchase general liability and commercial property coverage separately.
Managing your money efficiently and with goals
It’s a good idea to separate your business and personal funds, and to keep track of all costs. Setting monthly and yearly budget goals will also help you plan for a long-term vision. Meeting with an accountant and CPA could also be beneficial.
Compare film production insurance quotes from trusted carriers with Insureon
Complete Insureon’s easy online application today to compare photography and video business insurance quotes from top-rated U.S. carriers and insurance brokers. Once you find the right policy for your small business, you can begin coverage and get your certificate of insurance from the insurance company in less than 24 hours.