Shop Talk: Equipment Insurance

by Dominic Bracco II

Last month I was robbed along with two colleagues of mine while we were sleeping. No one was hurt – we slept through the whole thing. But… they made off with about $10,000 in photography equipment and laptops. Luckily I was insured. After going through this experience I wanted to take the time to write about equipment insurance, which even if you have renters insurance or home owners insurance is worth getting because often times these policies will not cover you while you are traveling. Plus, they often have higher deductibles.

Here are a few options for companies that specialize in photography equipment:

1) Tom C. Pickard and Co. which offers specialty insurance for photographers and film makers.

2) CG&B Group from Canada which offers equipment insurance for photographers, film makers, audio engineers, ect.

3) Hill and Ushers or Package Choice which is based out of Arizona.

4) Marsh An insurance policy special for members of PPA.

5) APA National American Photographic Artists’ insurance.

6) Hays Affinity which is affiliated with NPPA

Another option besides using one of these companies is by contacting your local insurance representative and seeing if they can tailor something to your needs.

Here is the streamlined way to apply for insurance through MARSH, which I use personally.

STEP ONE: It is really quite simple to apply, but first you must become a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America), which is an organization that represents mostly portrait photographers, event photographers, and the like. Here is the link:

Sign up, pay, and register. Once you get a confirmation email you will get a PPA member number. This is important – you must have it to apply for the insurance and you must put it on the application forms.

STEP TWO: download these files: Application Form or this Application Form for residents of FL, IA, KY, NJ, OR and UT and fill out the forms. Make sure you have all of your serial numbers and the correct replacement costs for each item in detail. If you need to make a claim later you will have to prove this (more about this later). Your premium will be based on how you complete this form.

STEP THREE: Sign and date, make copies for your files, and mail the application to the address on the forms. Your insurance should begin the date you put on your form, although I have called before in the past and given them credit card information just to be sure (but I am paranoid).

FILING A CLAIM: Filing a claim with Marsh is quite simple. After you apply they will give you a client number, which will help expedite the process. Just call them up and an adjuster will be in contact with you within a couple days. I recommend staying on top of the adjuster though to make sure you get your money back ASAP. They will ask you for some basic things, a copy of a police report, or some proof of damage, and an example of a replacement cost (a screen shot from B&H or Apple will do just fine). Then they will have a copy of a form, which you must sign with a notary (this is the only hard part – which if you are always traveling can be an issue).

Important information: Marsh Questions 1-800-588-7518 or

More PPA member insurance benefits, which include accidental dismemberment or death, and health:

TIP: Make sure to add your computer programs, like Photoshop (and serial numbers), and not just the replacement cost of your computer, to the equipment schedule and please be sure to read all of the fine print before you sign up.

Equipment insurance is something you hope to never use, but that’s true of all kinds of insurance. Your deductible will look cheap in the face of $10,000 worth of missing equipment.

Posted by Dominic Bracco II on Feb 4th, 2011 in Latest News | 11 Comments »

11 Comments on “Shop Talk: Equipment Insurance”

  1. 1 Victoria Luckie said at 12:10 pm on February 7th, 2011:

    And be careful with the conditions – as I learned to my cost when my trusty old (print) nikon was stolen with 3 lenses and other stuff and replaced by D100 with 1 lens- which is rubbish

  2. 2 Carrie said at 12:21 pm on February 7th, 2011:

    I really like Hill and Usher. They have been very helpful and I know several people who had an easy experience with them after being robbed.

  3. 3 Rich-Joseph Facun said at 1:03 pm on February 7th, 2011:

    Thanks for the column, assuming that at some point I will eventually become a f/t freelancer, this is a topic that I found helpful to read about. Sorry to hear about your loss, glad to hear you have insurance.

  4. 4 Janel said at 6:09 pm on February 7th, 2011:

    Sorry about the equipment loss, nice of them to let you sleep through it. I was a victim myself while on assignment overseas. I purchased the required insurance through NPPA that would cover my equipment while out of country. The premiums went way up, and so did the deductible. After taking into account the amount I spent on the insurance, I would have been better off to cut my losses. Insurance is a scam.

  5. 5 Dominic Bracco II said at 6:23 pm on February 7th, 2011:

    Hey Janel – Just out of curiosity, what did the insurance company ask from you after your gear was stolen. My stuff was taken in the US so a police report was easy to come by, but in many of the places photographers work that can be near impossible.

  6. 6 Theo Stroomer said at 7:33 pm on February 7th, 2011:

    I had a camera stolen while working abroad in Bolivia; would have been in big trouble without insurance. Police reports are more of a pain abroad, but other than that it´s not too much of a hassle.

  7. 7 parv said at 5:35 am on February 8th, 2011:

    In order to insure with above listed insurance entities, does one have to be a working professional?

    I would be interested in Janel’s details when insurance was not worth the trouble.

  8. 8 dnoles said at 6:22 pm on February 10th, 2011:

    thanks for the article, i’ve been putting it off too long. happy to hear you had the insurance.

  9. 9 Sid said at 5:54 am on February 16th, 2011:

    Valuable post, and a good reminder for all. One other thing to consider — if you’re incorporated or organized as an LLC, I’d suggest consulting with your attorney if you’re considering liability insurance as part of the insurance package. Your legal status will likely impact what kind of liability insurance you need.

  10. 10 Quinn Ryan Mattingly said at 10:15 pm on February 18th, 2011:

    I’m based in Vietnam, and contacted all of the above companies, but none can provide coverage because I don’t work inside the US. Any suggestions on international insurers?

  11. 11 Dominic Bracco II said at 10:29 pm on February 18th, 2011:

    Hi Quinn – Thats tricky. You might try reaching some of these companies – unfortunately I think all the ones listed only serve citizens of the US or Canada – at least the ones that responded to me when I asked them before making this post. If you pay taxes in one of those countries and hold a state ID then technically I believe you should be considered a resident. Of course companies can do as they please… so if you are also residing outside of the country where the insurance company is based I don’t know if they will cover you. There has to be a solution to your problem though. I know in Mexico for example there are plenty of insurance companies you can apply with if you have residency. I think it might only be a matter of paying more money for the service which may or may not be the best option. Have you tried contacting any of these companies?

Leave a Reply

  • nine × = 45