Blog Q&A: Should I insure my equipment?

Should I insure my equipmentHello, friends. Time for another round of Blog Q&A! Although today's question could easily apply to bloggers as well as many small business owners. If you want to see the past questions and answers from this series, here is our archive of blogging advice. Today's question came from the comments section of our blog:

"I know it's an individual choice, but does ABM normally insure their photography equipment when you buy it? Have you found that you need it due to such heavy use of the equipment on your blog? Thanks so much!"

There are lots of different ways to approach the concern here (protecting equipment used for business), and I'm pretty excited to see if others have thoughts. Our company, like all small businesses, is unique, and the challenges we face are probably not exactly the same as everyone else. So, know that I am approaching this question from my perspective, but I'm also hoping to just give you some things to think about knowing that your situation may be quite different. 

Here are a few questions I would ask anyone who is considering insuring their business-related equipment. Also, when I say business-related equipment, I'm referring to smaller priced items like DSLR cameras or laptops, not necessarily company cars or larger priced items like that. But we'll talk a bit more on that at the end. 

What kind of business are you running? 

I am sort of getting at two things here. First, if your business is somewhat similar to A Beautiful Mess—a blogger, content creator, lifestyle based company—then first I would just question what items are truly necessary for business functions. If you are in the beginning stages of your business, whatever you do, it might also be a good time to think about making sure you have all your business files set up and you are official with the federal and your state government (possibly your county too if you need certain licenses or other business documents). I bring this up because as soon as you establish your business, you should seek to get liability insurance, also sometimes called commercial general business liability insurance. This does not protect your business from EVERYTHING, just many of the big, bankruptcy type fears. I know, fun stuff to think about. :) 

You will likely need to find an insurance broker or agent that you trust and feel confident working with in order to get this set up. Just as a quick note, a broker can quote you insurance from multiple companies while an agent generally works with just one company. We work with brokers most of the time, but the most important thing is to find someone you feel confident working with. That way when something does arise in your business, you can ask them lots of questions and get things sorted quickly. Now, the liability insurance will probably not cover damaged property like a camera. It's possible, but I know ours does not. So I would ask your broker their thoughts on coverage for any specific equipment your business might own or what they feel is the best way to protect your needed equipment in case something should happen to it. If possible, get a few quotes and make sure you pay attention to what it truly covers. Many policies will not cover "wear and tear" type issues but may cover equipment if it's lost, stolen, etc. Take note of any deductibles as well since we're thinking about lower priced items. If your deductible is high enough that you might as well buy a new camera, then it may not be worth it. 

What about warranties or other coverage? 

Insurance companies are not the only entities that can help you if your equipment gets damaged. They are a good option that you should explore (get those quotes!), but exploring a few other options might prove more cost effective. Most manufacturers offer some kind of warranty, so make sure when you are getting ready to buy that you take note of this. Often it will cover certain types of damages and not others, and it may only be for a set limit (1 year, 2 years, etc.). In order to take advantage of the warranty, you sometimes have to register your equipment or at least save the original purchase documents so you can prove how long you've owned it. File these with your other business papers. I recommend a file cabinet from here (they are so cute! makes business filing at least a little fun). 

When shopping, it's good to also check into other, extended warranty options that sellers may be offering. Just as an example, if you purchase your camera equipment from Best Buy, they offer a protection plan (additional cost at time of purchase) that can last up to four years and cover all sorts of damage. If you use your camera often, like we do for work, then this might be the most cost effective option. So no matter where you plan to buy, before you do, see if they offer additional protection warranties, how much they cost, and what all they cover. And be sure to save your paperwork/receipts to take advantage of the plan should you need. And just to be 100% clear, I am just using Best Buy as an example because I have a photographer friend who told me about their plan, and when I looked into it, it did seem really worthwhile. This is not sponsored or an affiliate of any kind, just something I've seen that could be useful to you, but do some research and see what you think. Go look into options in your area for what might work best for you. 

The bottom line: make sure you are covered in some way, but I'd research insurance vs. warranty options before investing in either. 

Also, one more quick note regarding business equipment: consider depreciation rates for your business taxes. Typically any equipment over $2500 will be depreciated over years if you plan to use it during that time for business. We use an accountant for our business taxes, so if you do too, then ask them how this works or at the very least make them aware when do you buy equipment that could fall within this range. It could be that the camera equipment you use doesn't quite fall into this range, but larger ticket items certainly could. So I figured I'd at least mention it. 

Insurance, warranties, taxes—oh my! That was a fun one, huh? 🙂 What about you guys? Any other small business owners out there who have more thoughts on insuring equipment? xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Elsie Larson. Image Design: Mara Dockery.

  • My comment will be a bit off topic (I am not a blogger and my phone is my camera XD) but I just wanted to say I loved the facebook live event! I couldn’t tune in during the actual streaming, but watched it after. Please do more 🙂

  • Also pay attention to the terms of the credit card you use for the purchase. Many credit cards reimburse up to $1,000 for items purchased on the card that are damaged or stolen within 90-120 days of purchase.

    Not a long-term solution, but might help you out if you have a heartbreaking incident soon after you buy equipment.

  • I found a really decent rate which is actually a family bundle with a department store which covers my three big un’s – laptop, phone and camera. The piece of mind it gives you that everything is insured under one provider is great and they offer some great deals (like you can go straight to apple rather than sending something away if its broken and they’ll reimburse you). Of course I’m careful with all my equipment but if the worst were to happen, I’d be glad of spending those few extra pounds a month for piece of mind.

    http://victoriaspongepeasepudding.com/

  • These are really good points. My brother thought his photography equipment was covered under his renter’s insurance policy. Turns out, because he uses it to earn income, his claim was denied because it needed to be covered under a business policy. It really sucked for him.

  • Aw, thanks Julia! We had fun, and its good to hear feedback. We have been curious if people would like to see little things like that or not. 🙂

    -Emma

  • Yep, that does suck. Insurance can be a little confusing, or just it’s good to really know what is covered. So, helpful to ask your broker/agent or to call your insurance company with questions if you read through the policy and are still unsure.

    -Emma

  • On a similar note, your credit card may allow you to double your manufacturer’s warranty. I’ve been able to take advantage of that for photography equipment by using my Visa card. You can just check their benefits page to see if your purchase will be eligible for extended warranty.

  • Definitely should insure it and if you are using it for business it typically will not be covered under renters or homeowners insurance. I have about $25,000 in photography equipment (pro photog in addition to blogger) and it is covered through my business insurance (which includes all kinds of stuff) but it’s cheap and affordable ($500/year).

    Granted if you are using a $200 camera obviously it probably wouldn’t be worth it to insure it, but if you are using more expensive items, definitely look into business insurance (assuming you are using the items for income).

    Bridget | http://nuttyhiker.com