Why is public liability insurance essential for photographers?

Whether you operate a business that employs multiple photographers or you’re a one-person operation, if you work in the field of photography, you’ll already understand the importance of having insurance in place. From cameras and lenses to lighting solutions, rigs and tripods, investing in the tools of your trade as a photographer is an expensive business. 

Making sure that you can replace your equipment new for old if accidental damage occurs is essential if you’re to retain your investment and be back up and running swiftly. As a photographer, you are an essential part of your work, so ensuring you are personally insured in case of an injury that means you’re unable to earn is also critical. 

We offer a wide range of specialist insurance designed to meet the specific requirements of both amateur and professional photographers, and we understand that your income depends on your kit being in good working order.  But any profession that involves working with people needs insurance to protect them from the financial impact of claims brought by third parties – both clients and the general public.

For the contractual side of your work with clients, professional indemnity insurance is important, but perhaps the most wide-ranging risk is your liability to the public – for the safety of clients and members of the population at large.

In the following sections, we’ll explore this form of photography insurance and illustrate just how critical it can be to protect your livelihood when you’re out and about on a shoot.

What is public liability insurance?

Whether you find yourself out roaming rural locations capturing outstanding natural beauty or indoors in your rented studio employing your craft to create family portraiture, the possibility that something might go wrong is always present. While such circumstances are unfortunate and most professional photographers do their utmost to avoid them occurring, potential problems can put your photography business at considerable risk.

The good news is that you can prepare for these worst-case scenarios by putting measures in place before they arise. Predicting the unpredictable is no easy feat, so instead of taking such a chance, public liability insurance was developed for peace of mind.

Put simply, photographers’ public liability insurance was created to cover the cost of any claims made against you by members of the public, due to incidents that happen in connection with your photography business (or amateur) activities. A public liability insurance policy can cover the costs of legal action and compensation claims made against you or your business in the event of damage to third-party property or bodily injury to a member of the public.

Such a policy ensures that photographers are effectively shielded from most types of potential risk that can occur when they are out working among the public, or in an area used by the public.

Why is public liability insurance so important for photographers and videographers?

If you are out working as a professional photographer or simply taking pictures for your own use in your free time, perhaps the last thing you would imagine is something going awry. Remember, if you’re taking pictures in a public place or near members of the public, there is always a potential risk of accident and injury.

A person might trip over your tripod and fall, resulting in a serious injury, or you might step back into someone while you’re trying to get a shot and knock them into something. It might not be a member of the public you cause harm to, but their belongings. What if your equipment is unsecured and falls on their property causing irreparable damage? What if that property is particularly valuable?

If any of these unfortunate events take place, you can potentially be held accountable for any harm or damage you cause. Standard insurance will not normally cover you for such an eventuality and you could face significant financial penalties.

Photographers’ public liability insurance policies are developed to offer a measure of protection against the consequences and financial fall-out that comes from legal claims of any property damage or personal injuries issued by third parties. Public liability insurance ensures that, should a member of the public be hurt indirectly by your photography activity, you will have access automatically to an agreed amount that will protect you and your business from ensuing legal costs.

What does Public Liability Insurance cover?

For photographers, public liability insurance claims are primarily called on cover for legal costs and compensation claims. 

In an increasingly litigious world, if you cause an accident that results in injury to another person, they may seek compensation and damages. They may also seek to have the costs of their treatment, rehabilitation, and necessary counselling covered by you as well. 

Naturally, these costs can rapidly escalate beyond what you could comfortably afford to pay out of your own pocket, which is why proper insurance cover becomes so essential. In many cases, having public liability insurance is a contractual requirement for working for certain clients, or photographing in certain places.

Say, for example, you’re a wedding photographer. While photographing the happy couple’s first dance, you accidentally leave your camera bag sticking out in a walkway. The bride’s mother doesn’t see it, and while walking, she catches her foot in the shoulder strap of your bag and falls to the floor, breaking her leg. She needs time off work and physiotherapy as a result. 

Obviously, you didn’t leave your bag there with the intention of having someone injure themselves because of it, but it was still your actions that caused the accident and her injury. As a result, you would be liable for compensation. In this instance, it would be your public liability insurance that would help to cover the compensation and treatment costs.

How much does a Public Liability insurance policy cost?

There’s no simple answer to this question. Just like any other type of insurance coverage, public liability insurance premiums depend on a variety of factors. 

If, for example, you choose a limited amount of coverage with a higher voluntary excess, you will find your premiums can drop considerably. The issue here is that you could find you’re not covered in a lot of circumstances where you might need to make a claim.

Similarly, simply going for the most expensive option possible isn’t wise either. There will be lots of elements to the policy that don’t necessarily apply to the circumstances you work in. That means you could be paying too much for coverage that you don’t really need.

Many venues will stipulate the level of cover you should have in place in order to photograph there – perhaps £3m or £5m. The best thing to do when looking for public liability insurance coverage is to think of it not in terms of outright cost, but more in terms of value for money. 

That means thinking about the level of coverage you’re getting relative to how much the premiums are going to cost you. 

Talking to an experienced insurance adviser will help you work through the angles to achieve a much more appropriate public liability insurance package for your needs.

Other things that can affect the cost include your likelihood to claim. For example, if you mainly work in remote areas, such as doing nature photography, your likelihood of claiming is quite low. This is because you’re usually not around other people. 

Conversely, if you regularly photograph busy events and celebrations, the odds of an accident happening that results in injury to someone else increase. This means your premiums are likely to go up, but it also means it’s even more important you have proper public liability coverage.

How do I choose the right public liability insurance? 

If you’re thinking about taking out public liability insurance cover as a part of your photography insurance package, it’s important you choose the right cover for you and your activities. 

You need to understand the most likely scenarios that could cause you to have to claim and be positive that these are covered in your policy. That’s why it’s important to speak to a dedicated professional adviser who understands photography and the level of risk involved in your work.

Specialists in photographers’ insurance

With more than 15 years of experience serving photographers with specialised insurance, we here at Aaduki are well-placed to provide policies for UK creative professionals to cover both themselves and their businesses, and the equipment they rely on.

We understand that every photographer is an individual with their own needs and way of working. To match these specific requirements, we take a tailored approach to providing cover, and craft policies that only include the elements you need, including equipment, employers’ liability, international cover, and public liability. Contact our dedicated team today to discuss your needs and receive a free quotation.

Paul Newberry Cert CII

Lead Client Adviser