Updated: August 2016
You don't have to be a professional photographer or own top-of-the-line equipment to want to protect your camera. The good news is that you may be able to protect your camera against certain risks by simply having a renters insurance policy.
Renters insurance typically includes personal property coverage to help protect your belongings. That coverage may extend to things like furniture, clothing, electronics and, yes, even a camera. It's important, though, to understand what amount and what kind of coverage you have so that you know what to expect in the event that you have to file a claim.
Renters insurance typically helps protect your belongings against certain risks. For instance, you'll likely find that your policy will help cover the loss of your belongings — including a camera — if they are damaged by fire or stolen during a break-in. It's important to understand that most renters insurance policies won't cover every scenario, though. Renters insurance probably won't cover your camera if you lose or misplace it, for example. Read your policy or contact your agent to learn what your policy does and does not cover.
When you purchase a renters insurance policy, you'll usually have a choice between two types of personal property coverage — actual cash value coverage and replacement cost coverage — which may help protect your belongings in different ways.
Replacement cost coverage typically helps protect belongings for the amount it would cost to buy a new one. If you paid $500 for your camera and it's stolen, a policy with replacement cost coverage would likely provide enough protection for you to buy another camera of similar type and quality in today's dollars — even if your stolen camera is a few years old.
Actual cash value coverage usually takes depreciation into account. For instance, suppose you paid $500 for your camera when you purchased it a few years ago. If it's stolen, a policy with actual cash value coverage will likely factor in depreciation and could cover less than it would cost to purchase a similar camera today.
Regardless of what type of coverage you have, keep in mind that coverage limits — the maximum your policy will pay out after a covered loss — will apply. You'll probably also have to pay your deductible before your insurance will kick in to help cover the rest.
Should you get additional insurance coverage for a high-priced camera? It depends. Some renters insurance policies may limit the amount you can be reimbursed for a camera or camera equipment. Other policies may not offer a personal property limit high enough to cover your expensive camera along with all your other belongings.
If your camera is worth more than the maximum coverage your renters insurance policy provides, ask your agent if you can raise the limit by purchasing additional coverage. This is called scheduled personal property coverage, and it can be assigned to individual items as well as groups of items, like your camera and related photography equipment.
In addition to providing more extensive coverage for your expensive camera, scheduled personal property typically provides protection against additional risks, such as accidental loss, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). You'll also typically find that you won't have to pay a deductible if you need to file an insurance claim for an item that you've scheduled.
You'll typically need to provide your insurance company with a recent receipt or a professional appraisal to schedule property, the III says.
And, if you're a professional photographer with your own business, you may find that small business insurance provides the coverage you want for the equipment you use on the job.
Hopefully you'll never experience a loss that requires you to file an insurance claim for a missing or damaged camera. But, just in case, it's a good idea to understand your existing coverage and make any necessary adjustments to help you ensure your equipment is covered to your satisfaction. Then, armed with insurance and your camera, you can continue capturing memories knowing that you have a safety net in place for your photography equipment, just in case.