5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MAKING A PHOTOGRAPHY INSURANCE CLAIM
1. Every claim is unique
We often get this question: “what if [insert hypothetical situation] happened? Would I be covered?” It is impossible to answer this question, because every claim is unique. Maybe you’ve heard an insurance broker give you vague, evasive, unsatisfying answers. That’s potentially because you’re asking the wrong question. Instead of asking “what’s covered?” you should be asking “what’s not covered?”
Most insurance policies work like this: everything is covered, except what is explicitly excluded by the policy. This allows for all kinds of unanticipated, unimaginable types of losses to be covered. It also ensures wordings aren’t 10,000 pages long. When you submit a claim, the adjustor will look through the wording to see if an exclusion applies. Some typical exclusions are: “wear and tear,” “mechanical breakdown”, “fungus”.
2. There can be many ways to prove ownership (not just receipts)
Lots of people buy camera gear second-hand. Claims adjustors are aware of this fact. If you don’t have original receipts, don’t panic. You can still cover the gear with your insurance.
Proof of ownership can take different forms, depending on the loss. If a lens is cracked, the proof is the cracked lens in your possession. You would only need to provide documentary proof in “total loss” situations (theft, destroyed in a fire, etc.). In these situations, original receipts are obviously best, but in the absence of these, the adjustor may use their judgment or common sense. They may try to work with you to find “creative” ways to substantiate prior ownership.
In all cases, it is up to the adjustor’s discretion; they need something that will “hold up”, and they will be using their “Spidey-senses”. If they think something is suspicious, they will ask for more concrete evidence and they may decline a claim. So, do what you can prior to a loss occurring to substantiate your ownership of the items you wish to have covered.
3. File a police report first (and take photos of the crime scene)
When a crime has been committed, you will need to report the crime to the appropriate authorities. For a theft claim, an adjustor will ask for a police report number as part of your supporting documentation. This also applies in foreign countries.
There are also special conditions related to theft from an unattended vehicle – there must be visible signs of forced entry. Basically, the insurance company is saying: if you leave your gear in your car, make sure you lock your car. They will need visible evidence that someone had to pry their way into your vehicle, so take pictures of the broken glass, or the scratches on your car. Without visible evidence of forced entry, your claim could be denied.
The insurance company's policy wording on unattended/unlocked property reads as follows: "we will cover theft of covered property from a locked container, vehicle or trailer when there are visible signs of forced entry. This exclusion does not apply while covered property is in the care or custody of a common carrier."
4. There will be a deductible
A deductible is the amount of the loss that you are responsible for covering before the insurance policy will respond. Say you have a USB drive stolen. Replacing it would cost $60, but your deductible is $350. Although, “technically” the claim would be covered, it is below your deductible, so the insurance company wouldn’t be responsible for paying any part of the claim.
If you damage a $500 lens, you would pay for the first $350 (your deductible), then the insurance company would cover the next $150.
After you’ve made a claim, an insurance company will generally increase your rates. There is no one-claim forgiveness. So, it may not make sense to submit a small claim, as you may end up paying more for insurance over the long-run. Insurance is not meant to cover small losses. It’s best used to cover the things that could really make or break your business.
5. You can still withdraw a claim after you have reported it
The only person who can give you a definitive answer to the question, “is it covered?” is a claims adjustor. In order to speak to an adjustor, you will need to report the claim to the insurance company. The adjustor will then review what happened and the supporting documentation, and advise whether coverage can be provided.
Once you have a clear answer, you can either decide to proceed with the claim or to withdraw it. Don’t be afraid to open a claim and talk to an adjustor.
Get Photography Insurance
As this is a blog post about claims, the assumption is that you already have insurance for your gear, but just in case you don’t: Front Row’s photography insurance policy is a good option. Many Canadian photographers have come to recognize Front Row as the industry’s best coverage – and rely upon us to protect their valuable camera gear. In case a claim does occur, you can work with your broker to resolve the claim and get compensated for covered losses as quickly as possible.
Refer a Friend to Front Row Insurance
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