While I’d like you to come to my studio for your portraits, I also take delight in knowing people go where they are satisfied. All photographers have their own style, and that’s okay if you like someone else’s style and choose to go there. I just want you, as a consumer to be aware of one thing.
The one thing I want you to be aware of is why you should ask the person taking your photos this question, “Do you carry liability insurance?”
There are so many people I’ve met after-the-fact, who I wish they would have gone with me in the first place. I could have saved them a lot of grief. Here’s a prime example…
I will call him “Bob” to protect his identity.
Bob hired me to do his wedding. A few years later, Bob was divorced and was about to get married again and contacted me to do his wedding. I was unavailable and gave Bob some referrals to contact. He didn’t take my advice.
Bob and his fiancé hired a photographer, but didn’t ask if he was insured. He took their engagement photos and their money. The problem is they never got their photos, and as I already mentioned, he took their money.
They got a judgment against the guy, but they never saw any of that money. In spite of suing the guy, they could never get the guy to pay.
Had they got a insurance information up front, it would have been easier to file an insurance claim.
Now, before you say you’re good friends with the person you are having do your photographs, if things go awry are you prepared to jeopardize that friendship?
Even if you are hiring a friend, ask for insurance proof. This is to protect you as a consumer, and could save a friendship if things go bad.
What sort of things could go bad that would make you wish the photographer had insurance?
- Photographer no-show for whatever reason
- Someone gets injured while the pictures are being taken
- Something gets broken while the pictures are being taken (example, the photographer bumps a very expensive vase with their camera and breaks it)
- The photographer’s camera has a problem and none of your pictures turn out
- The photographer gets in an accident on the way to/from the wedding or event
- The photographer loses the memory card with all of the photographs on it
- The photographer’s computer goes on the blink, gets a virus, or the hard drive dies and all of your pictures are suddenly gone
There are two types of insurances to ask the photographer about.
Type 1 – Liability – Liability covers damage to persons or property. You can request a “letter of coverage” which will be a document from the photographer’s insurance company listing you as a payee if something goes wrong. (Most hotels and event venues require one of these listing them as the payee!!!)
Type 2- Indemnification – This coverage might as well be called “malpractice insurance”. For photographers who are PPA members, they pay in to an indemnity trust that covers them for things like pictures being destroyed because of equipment malfunction, pictures not turning out right because of equipment malfunction, etc.
All insurances require a claim to be made. Making false claims is a crime. Insurance companies take this stuff seriously.
Let’s say the photographer’s camera appears to be working, and he photographs the entire event, and calls you the next day and says, “Bad news. My camera did not capture a single picture.”
At that point, you would ask, “How do I make a claim against your indemnification coverage?”
You’ll probably get some paperwork sent to you, and you’ll have to make a statement as to the truthfulness of the claim. The insurance adjuster will usually tell you what their coverage covers and explain the process.
The alternative to dealing with a loss when a photographer is not covered is going to small claims court. You’ll have to demonstrate to a judge that you were financially damaged or physically injured and present all the documentation. Then, if the judge rules in your favor, you’ll have to get the photographer to pay.
Hmmm… good luck with that.
In conclusion, we seldom think about asking if the person we are doing business with has insurance. Insurance isn’t just for the insured, it is for the consumer too.
Some businesses are required by law to have insurance. (Example, your doctor must carry malpractice insurance and liability insurance.) It is not required of photographers. You seldom hear the horror stories, but as a professional, I get to hear them. I normally hear them from customers who in hindsight wish they would have asked about insurance.
photography by db walton llc is a socially responsible studio. We carry business liability insurance and as a PPA member we are also covered by PPA’s Indemnity Trust. We have been in business since June, 2000. D. Brent Walton, owner/artist, is also a Certified Professional Photographer and Photographic Craftsman — the only one to hold either of those distinctions in Wayne County, New York. Walton also serves a the CPP Liaison here in New York State.