Prevention is better than the cure
Once you have your new insurance policy signed and completed, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your equipment is safe and other potential problems are eliminated or at least reduced. This will decrease the likelihood of you making a claim, and help to keep future premiums low:
Plan for the worst case scenario
Keep a log of all your equipment, serial numbers, purchase receipts and value. Keep physical as well as digital records and back these up regularly.
As an extra security measure, mark equipment with an ultraviolet pen with your name, mobile number, email and address; thus identifying the owner should it be lost or stolen.
Under lock and key
Do everything possible to make sure your equipment is secured at all times and not a potential score for the opportunistic thief. At home or at work keep your equipment under lock and key when it is not in use.
When photographing in public or carrying equipment out and about try not to attract attention or have someone with you to keep an extra eye on your belongings. Keep a firm grip on your camera and camera bag at all times or wear these facing forward making it harder for pick-pockets to strike.
If you have to use your vehicle to store your equipment make sure you meet the conditions of your insurance policy, as many insurers will stipulate that the equipment must be secured in the boot of the vehicle and not lying on the back seat, for instance. Others stipulate a ‘car curfew’, meaning that equipment is covered only during certain times of the day in the vehicle and not for example, when it is left overnight.
If you are travelling abroad it may be wise to hire gear on location or at the very least stow your equipment as hand luggage, as bags can often end up in the wrong airport, be stolen at luggage reclaim or fragile contents damaged by overzealous baggage handlers. Be sure to check your airline’s website for details concerning allowable hand luggage dimensions before your fly.
Where there’s blame…
If you or your equipment causes an injury to someone else you could face a large compensation claim. Minimise the chance of accidents be making sure your equipment – especially tripods aren’t placed where people won’t see them. Add neon reflector strips to the legs or safely mark off the area you are working in. If you are working in a busy public environment ask a friend or employee to alter passers- by to any potential hazards.
A large percentage of claims are made by photographers who forget to take the most basic of precautions. Always replace the lens cap when the camera is not in use, make sure the camera strap is securely and correctly fastened as shown in your manual, close zips and bag locks tightly, never use your equipment in water if it’s not waterproof and purchase specialist water/dust resistant covers if you intend to work in the rain a lot or dusty conditions such as the dust or the beach.
Protect your reputation
Indemnity insurance protects your reputation, which is vital for the longevity and success of your business. Always keep a record of emails, telephone calls and meetings with clients and be clear and consistent in your correspondence, especially where payment deadlines and instructions are concerned. Keep to deadlines and always deliver what was promised.
Keep a contract
It is also a good idea to write up contracts for clients to sign in case a dispute is later raised. This way you can outline exactly what the client will get and what you expect to get from the client; i.e. paying on time and copyright concerns. If you use models, be sure to have the model sign a model release form, otherwise you may not be able to publish the images. There are hundreds of template contracts online for photographers to use, but if you are unsure of the legality or wording get a solicitor or lawyer to look them over for you.