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Do Photographers need Professional Indemnity Insurance?

A shoot gone wrong, an unhappy client, an email from your client’s lawyer. Things don’t always go to plan.
Professional indemnity is an insurance product designed to protect you and your photography business. But what is professional indemnity insurance, and what does it really cover

What is professional indemnity?

In very simple terms, professional indemnity covers you for mistakes or an allegation you’ve made a mistake.

Professional indemnity provides:

  • Compensation to your client (or a third party) in circumstances where you are liable due to professional negligence
  • Defence costs, to defend you against unjustified allegations of negligence

A basic professional indemnity product will only protect you against allegations of negligence. There are, however, professional indemnity policies that cover a lot more, such as the policies we provide for our photographers. Matters such as breach of intellectual property including copyright infringement, a breach of confidentiality and a breach of confidence are often covered under more comprehensive professional indemnity policies.

Can only clients make a valid claim under professional indemnity insurance?

Whilst traditionally professional indemnity would only cover claims from clients, photographers and other creative professionals can be at risk from claims from third parties, that are not engaged as clients. For example, a fellow professional photographer could bring a claim against you for breach of copyright, or even a model can allege you hadn’t obtained written clearance. A comprehensive professional indemnity policy will cover claims from any third party, not just unhappy clients.

I’ve never had a claim before, do I really need professional indemnity as a professional photographer?

As a specialist photographic insurance broker, we handle claims relating to damaged or stolen equipment each and every week. Professional indemnity claims are certainly less frequent, but often very stressful for the photographer, and they can be extremely expensive. It’s easy to quantify the value of the claim for a damaged camera. Quantifying the loss for a breach of copyright, for example, can be far more difficult.

In the unlikely event that something does go wrong, there’s nothing worse than attempting to handle this matter yourself. If you are insured with a specialist media insurer, their claims handlers and solicitors are experts in these situations and may be able to make the problem disappear without too much fuss. More time for you to do what you love … photography.

So, what can go wrong?

A common question, and one that’s difficult to answer. We handle several professional indemnity claims throughout the year, some can be settled quickly, and others can involve months of negotiation and mediation. As the title of the product suggests, it protects the photographer’s professional reputation. As such, it is very difficult to share the specific details of the claims we have handled. We have therefore put together some theoretical claims examples, some of which are similar to claims we have handled.

Example 1 – The traditional negligence claim

A photographer was commissioned to undertake a university graduation shoot. A high-pressure day, with a very quick turnaround between each client. At the end of the day, when uploading the images, it was discovered that one of the memory cards was corrupted. A large proportion of the afternoon’s shots was irrecoverable. In this instance, the insurer was concerned that a formal allegation of negligence would be made. The mitigation cover within the insurance, allowed the insurer and photographer to proactively resolve the problem. The insurer paid for necessary costs to reshoot a number of the students and their families at a later date at two separate locations.

Example 2 – Travel photographer fails to obtain model release

Commissioned to provide travel photography for a feature in a leading national newspaper, the photographer spent 4 weeks travelling across Italy shooting many popular tourist attractions.
The images were supplied to the editorial team at the newspaper. Unaware of any potential problem, the editorial team selected a specific image and cropped the image significantly upon publication. The cropping of the image, resulted in a British tourist, previously in the background of the image, being the focal point of the image that was printed on the front page of the publication.

The tourist was a wealthy businessman and very unhappy when he discovered his photograph on the front of the feature and asked his lawyers to pursue a claim against the newspaper. In this case, although in our eyes, the editorial team at the newspaper were very much at fault, their legal team pursued the photographer that supplied the image for indemnification. The insurers successfully defended the photographer and maintained the relationship with the newspaper to ensure the photographer did not lose future work.

Example 3 – Section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act

We thought this example serves as a reminder of the risk faced by interiors photographers, as a result of the recent change in legislation, which brought certain existing 3-D works back under copyright protection. This places the onus on the photographer to ensure they obtain clearance on any 3-D copyright-protected items, such as designer furniture. Should a photographer be unaware that a certain piece of furniture is under copyright protection, the photographer exposes themselves to a legal claim from the designer or rights-holder.

What cover is provided to photographers by Whinney Insurance Brokers?

The photographic professional indemnity insurance we provide offers cover over and above a standard professional indemnity policy. The insurance automatically covers matters specific to photographic professionals, such as intellectual property including copyright infringement, breach of licence, breach of confidentiality and breach of confidence as well as an unintentional breach of a written contract (note: all the more reason to get things in writing).

For any questions relating to the insurance or for the full terms and conditions, please contact us on 0207 175 4589. Whinney Insurance Brokers can also provide Public Liability and Equipment insurance on its specialist photographic insurance scheme for professional photographers, more information can be found by following this link: Photographers Insurance.

Always personal, always bespoke

As a privately owned broker with a small and dedicated multi-disciplined and experienced team of advisors with expertise in the photography and film sector, we pride ourselves on our exceptional service. Whether you’re getting a quote or making a claim, your insurance will always be handled personally by an expert member of our team.

Please note: This blog and the examples therein are for general information purposes only, and does not claim to be professional advice and shall not be relied upon as such. The claims scenarios are examples of how the policy may respond.