If you own and operate your own gear, chances are you have some sort of general liability insurance with riders on your valuable video production equipment. Or maybe you’re not doing this for a living yet, so you have no insurance at all.
Either way, when you dive into the world of gear rental, you have to consider buying additional insurance for your rented gear. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to pay for damages on a very expensive camera or lens that you rented, which is going to sting if you couldn’t afford to buy that equipment in the first place.
ShareGrid recently published a comparison of a few insurance options for photographers renting gear. ShareGrid is a peer-to-peer marketplace for camera and production gear, and they offer their own insurance system for the equipment rentals. Their research on the various insurance options looks to be extensive and shows real-world numbers.
So if you’re about to rent some gear from a local photography shop or from LensRentals or BorrowLenses, check out this guide first. It includes broken down prices for coverage that includes damage only, and damage plus theft. There’s more explanation of the differences between those options below.
Here’s a scenario where you rent gear for a weekend shoot, with coverage from Friday through Monday.
And here’s a week-long shoot, covering Monday through Friday.
Damage Waiver vs Insurance
As described in the article, there’s a difference between damage wavers and insurance when you’re renting gear. Damage waivers are offered by the rental company, for specifically the gear you rent from them. They usually cover only damage, and not loss or theft. Although, ShareGrid does have an option that includes theft protection too.
Insurance, however, can be used to cover gear you use outside of the rental company. It’s serviced by an insurance company rather than the rental company itself, but it can be offered as an addition to your rental contract.
Because ShareGrid is a peer-to-peer rental service, there is always the chance that you could rent your gear to someone who doesn’t give it back. That’s a different kind of theft called Voluntary Parting, compared to the typical theft which is when you rent gear and someone steals it from you while it’s in your possession. ShareGrid makes a point that they offer both types of coverages through their insurance partner.
Photography Equipment Insurance is Essential
We’ve had production equipment break, stop working for no apparent reason, get left behind somewhere, and also stolen. It really sucks when any of those things happen, but accidents or loss or theft shouldn’t put anybody out of business. It’s just gear, after all.
Now, if you lose a month’s long worth of video work because of a hard drive failure, that’s certainly something to cry about. But gear is replaceable.
Insuring equipment is absolutely essential when you’re making money from photography or videography. But even if you aren’t doing it for a living, you still need insurance when you rent gear. It’s a good idea to take a few pics or even a video of rented gear when you first receive it, so you can document how it arrived when you took possession of it, including the packaging and all the accessories.
Should something happen to the rented gear, like damage, loss, theft, or some kind of scam with the rental itself, you need to document as much as you can right away. The time of day and location, the entire scenario that led up to the occurrence, and what you did after – these are all details that will be important for your claim.
When we filed our last claim for damages to our Canon 1DX mkII, we had to provide a lot of details of how the damage occured, who’s fault it might have been, where the event took place, and what kind of shoot we were on. We also had to submit the receipt for the Canon repair. You probably won’t send your rental gear to a repair shop, but it’s still important to save any receipt or document related to the gear.