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Professional Photographers - Do you use separate gear for business vs personal?

rs-eos
Elite

I'm looking into the details of starting a side photography business.  Regarding equipment, it would be covered by insurance under my business.  However, am now curious as to what pros do when venturing out on personal vacations or other outings with such gear.

Do you have separate gear (for business-use only and personal-use only)?  Or do you use the same gear for both business and personal projects?

I haven't been able to find answers yet via searches.  Most (all?) insurance policies cannot have overlaps. i.e. if your gear is covered by a business policy, it wouldn't additionally be under say your homeowners policy.  Thus, when I take my gear on vacations, family visits, etc, I don't think it would be covered.  Inland marine wouldn't apply if I'm not hauling gear to a gig.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers
9 REPLIES 9

Tintype_18
Authority
Authority

Interesting question. Either way, I would check with your insurance agent to see if your equipment, personal or professional, is covered by your homeowner's policy.

Tip: Record serial numbers of cameras and anything else along with a detailed description and photos of the gear laid out on the floor, etc. Gvie a copy to the agent and keep one in a secure place at home.

John
Canon EOS T7; EF-S 18-55mm IS; EF 28-135mm IS; EF 75-300mm; Sigma 150-600mm DG

There are indeed two paths I can do down to insure my gear.  One is not pursuing any business ventures and do add-on coverage on my homeowners policy.

Or two, have the gear covered by a business policy.

In the first case, I wouldn't be able to pursue any business pursuits which I kind of want to do; even if minimal.

I'm still a full-time software engineer and that will stay as-is.  So "minimal" can be thought of say at most 10 projects per one calendar year.  Potentially even less.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

jrhoffman75
Legend
Legend

Do/would you combine a vacation with scouting for locations for a commercial shoot?

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, M200, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, Pixma TR8620a, Lr Classic

Good question, John.  In my case, I would not.  I really don't plan to do much with the business.  Only doing say a few corporate headshots and maybe high school senior creative portraits each year.  And all in my local area.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

Sounds like a low risk venture with respect to gear damage compared to running photo tours. . If you haven’t had issues in the past with personal use maybe just self-insure. 

John Hoffman
Conway, NH

1D X Mark III, M200, Many lenses, Pixma PRO-100, Pixma TR8620a, Lr Classic

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Hi Ricky,

I would not expect gear be covered by homeowners insurance unless you specifically called it out in your policy.  You'd likely have to get a rider for it and it would increase your premium.  You are correct about overlap and in the event of a loss only one claim could be made. Unless multiple policies exist, If someone filed two claims one or the other carriers might consider it fraud.  Homeowners insurance usually has a flat fee payout for "belongings" which is not part of replacing your home.  I'd review my policy declarations.      

I would register all of my gear under a business policy and would take it where I wanted.  As a pro you are always working if the "opportunity" arises.  I would not allow the insurance company to stipulate "must be under contract" for coverage to exist.  Pro opportunities can happen while you are photographing your family.  Claiming a business loss under homeowners insurance might get scrutiny.   

Once you step into this arena, you may want to have a good tax preparer.  Someone who knows the laws and can help with business expenses, write offs, etc.  I'm not an insurance expert, so I'd talk to my agent, and tax preparer.   

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

Thanks, Rick!  Completely agree that I would only have one coverage.  As I just wrote in a reply earlier, I have two options.  First is to not pursue a photography business.  There, I can indeed add extra coverage for all my gear.  I have similar add on coverage for "data processing equipment" that covers my computer.

Second would be to get business coverage and thus not add on anything to homeowners.   This of course would let me pursue the business.  I would get all the other types of insurance as well in this scenario.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

rs-eos
Elite

I just found one article from a law firm (I'll be checking with a local law firm as well now) stating that you can use personal gear.  In fact, it's one way apparently that many small businesses start out.  You already have personal assets (furniture, cameras, etc) that you immediately start to use.

What I can then do is to compute the percentage of time the gear is used for personal vs business.  Say it's 50/50.  So any depreciation or write offs for business could only claim 50%.

To be honest, I'll probably not even worry about doing any write-offs.  Of course what would be improper is to claim 100% write-offs since the gear will be used for personal reasons.  But by me taking no write-offs whatsoever, that should not be an issue.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

EOSR3
Contributor

yes. I am using the R3 (new to me) for client work, and for personal I like to use a Sony RX100 mark 5, or something. small and discreet. 

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