How to protect your camera with insurance
The right insurance policy can help repair or replace your camera if something happens to it. But what kind of insurance you need depends on where you live and how you use your camera.
How do I insure my camera?
You’ll typically have four options when it comes to insuring your camera and equipment:
- Homeowners insurance. If your home is insured with personal property coverage, it’ll generally cover your camera and photography equipment if it’s stolen or damaged in covered situations, like a storm or fire. But most policies have a relatively low per-item cap on reimbursements, so pricey equipment may not be fully covered, and many policies won’t cover losing your equipment.
- Valuable personal property insurance. Also known as scheduled personal property insurance, this works like specialized camera insurance, but it can be added on to a homeowners or renters policy that you already have. You can insure your camera for its value and get protection if it’s stolen or damaged — in some cases with no deductible.
- Specialized camera insurance. This tends to be a more expensive option, but it can offer you coverage for your camera if you don’t have renters or homeowners insurance.
- Small business insurance. If you’re a professional photographer with a studio, you can add on coverage for your equipment to your small business insurance.
Personal vs professional camera use
Some insurance policies may only cover personal equipment — not commercial equipment. And if you’ve sold any of your photographs, your camera may be considered commercial equipment.
If you sell or intend to sell any of your work, talk with your insurer to find out how that affects your coverage.
How does home insurance cover my camera?
Your home insurance policy typically includes personal property insurance. For a standard camera worth a few hundred dollars, you’d be able to replace it easily, depending on your deductible. But replacing a $300 stolen camera might not be worth it with a deductible over $250 or so.
However, for a high-end, professional camera worth $4,000 or more, your home insurance should cover replacement if it’s lost or stolen. But make sure you include the value of your camera and any other expensive camera equipment in your home insurance maximums. In a total loss event where your house is destroyed, you’d probably want to be able to pay for replacements for all your items. A higher personal property maximum might be a good idea to consider, especially if you tally up the cost of video editing equipment and other camera tech.
How does renters insurance cover my camera?
If you have renters insurance, your personal property will typically be covered for theft, damage or loss up to your policy limits.
To cover your camera, make sure your coverage maximums include the cost to replace all of your belongings, including your camera. For example, if your policy caps out at $5,000 but your camera is worth $2,500, you could consider upping your coverage to cover replacing all your belongings.
Protect your camera with homeowners insurance
What should camera insurance cover?
Before choosing a policy, talk with your insurer about what types of damage and loss are covered so that you’re not left with any nasty surprises when you file a claim. When your camera is appropriately insured, your insurance should pay to replace it when:
- Someone steals it
- You drop or damage it
- You lose it
How much does it cost to insure a camera?
There’s no set price for how much it costs to insure a camera. Your premiums will be based on:
- The type of policy you choose. If you go with a specialized insurer, you can usually expect to pay more than if you add coverage on to an existing policy.
- The value of your camera and equipment. The more expensive your equipment is, the more it will cost to insure it.
- Where you live. If you live in a high-crime area, you can generally expect to pay more for your insurance.
- Your deductible. Policies with no deductible will generally have higher premiums.
- Your claims history. If you’ve filed claims for damage to your camera in the past, you’ll likely pay higher premiums.
How to insure your camera
To get your camera and equipment insured:
- Figure out how much everything is worth. Dig out all your old receipts and work out how much all your equipment is worth. Write down the value of each individual item as well as the total value of everything.
- Review any existing insurance. If you currently have homeowners or renters insurance, look at your policy documents and see if there are any sub-limits on how much you can claim for camera equipment. Also see how much your policy will pay for any one individual item.
- Decide what additional coverage you need. If your contents insurance doesn’t provide enough cover, you need to decide if you want to add extensions to your existing policy or to go with a specialized camera insurer instead.
- Shop around. Insurers can vary widely in how they treat losses. For example, not all insurers will cover accidentally dropping your camera. Compare multiple policies to find one with the right level of protection.
- List your camera and equipment on the policy. When you insure high-value items, you usually have to list them all out separately on your policy along with their value. You may also have to provide receipts to prove how much they are worth.
Why do I need camera insurance?
There are plenty of reasons why you would need insurance for your camera, including:
- Cameras are expensive. Some DSLRs can cost as much as $3,000 and that’s before you add in your lenses, which can cost upwards of $2,000 each. The total value can easily reach levels that are higher than a general contents insurance policy will pay towards cameras and related equipment.
- Cameras are attractive to thieves. Their high value and relatively small footprint make cameras among the most popular items for thieves. Without insurance, you could be out big bucks if someone makes off with your gear.
- Cameras are often used outside. General contents insurance won’t cover your camera when it is outside the home, so you’ll definitely need camera insurance if you want to be covered where you use the camera most.
Tips for insuring a camera
To make sure you’re fully covered:
- Get coverage right away. If something happens to your camera before it’s insured, you’ll be out of luck.
- Understand your options. If you already have homeowners, renters or small business insurance, talk with your current insurer to find out if you can save money by adding coverage to your existing policy.
- Read the fine print. All insurers treat camera insurance a little differently so you want to make sure the policy you choose will cover you for every situation you need it to.
- Keep your receipts. When you are insuring high-value items, insurers usually want to see proof of ownership. The best way to do this is by presenting receipts. If you don’t have receipts, you may be able to use photos of you with your camera and/or equipment.
What to watch out for
To avoid any trouble when you file a claim, avoid:
- Having sub-limits that are too low. Even if you have $30,000 worth of coverage with your homeowners insurance policy, your limit on any single item could be lower. Check with your insurer and add on extra coverage if necessary.
- Not being covered after an accident. Read through all the fine print and familiarize yourself with any exclusions before choosing a policy to avoid coverage gaps.
- Not having enough coverage when traveling. Most policies will protect your camera when you take it out of the country, but some will set a lower limit than what your policy would cover if you were at home. If you’re traveling, make sure your benefit limits are enough to cover your camera completely.
Camera insurance for travelers
Most valuable personal property insurance will cover you completely when you’re traveling, but there can be limitations. For example, leaving your home unoccupied for more than 30 days can void your coverage with some insurers.
If you travel regularly and/or are away from home for long periods, talk with your insurer to find out how it affects your coverage before you purchase a policy.
Should I insure my camera through the camera store?
Some retail shops will offer extended warranties or service plans, either through the store or from third-party companies like SquareTrade. While these plans can be worth looking into in some cases, they tend to be more expensive and less comprehensive than adding coverage to an existing policy. For example, as of June 2019, SquareTrade only insures cameras under $3,000, and a 3-year plan for a camera in the $2,000 to $3,000 range costs $499.
If you’re offered insurance or an extended warranty when you purchase your camera, take time to compare the policy against other options before signing up.
High-end camera equipment can be a major investment, so it’s important to make sure that you’re protected if something happens. Compare homeowners insurance policies to find one that can cover your camera if it’s lost, stolen or broken.