The Illusion Of Safety

The phone rang. A woman's voice with a soft tone could be heard on the other side of the line: "Good afternoon, Mr. Candanedo, I am calling from XYZ. We noticed that you haven't renewed your policy with us and we were wondering if you had decided to go with a different insurance company? And if that is the case, we would be interested in knowing what could have we done to keep you as a client?". I gasped in panic: "Do you mean that I have been working all this time without being covered?!". Luckily, it was a misunderstanding and everything was in order. But, that two-minute phone conversation left me with a feeling of unease for the rest of the day. How can any photographer afford the risk of being uninsured?

In a world where nothing is as certain as death and taxes, accidents come at a very close second place. And because they are so unpredictable, not being prepared for them is a risk that you just can't take. Not if you are a photographer... or an MUA... or a Hair Stylist... or any other freelance creative for that matter. We often don't think about it but our jobs come with a huge responsibility: we work with people, equipment, chemicals in the form of make-up and hair styling products, we borrow and hire goods for which we are liable, and when something goes wrong it is definitely too late to think about what could have been done to mitigate the repercussions. And even if you don't like to be pessimistic attracting the "bad luck", there are certain types of jobs that you just won't be able to take if you are not insured.

Buying insurance can be a very intimidating task. And sometimes you are better off studying to be an astronaut than trying to understand the wording on your policy. But these are not valid excuses for not being insured. If you are a freelance creative and you come face to face with members of the public (including clients and contractors), if you visit clients and work on their premises, or if you work from home and clients come visit you, you need to be at least covered by a Public Liability Insurance. A Public Liability Insurance protects you and your business from injuries to other people or damage to property caused by you or anyone working for you. How much should you be covered for? It depends on the type of work that you do, but I have worked with clients or premises that required me to be covered for at least 5 million pounds.

What other types of coverage do you need? Again, it depends on the nature of your job. For the type of work that I do, my policy covers me for:

  • Employers’ Liability: In the UK, the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 requires that you have at least a minimum level of insurance cover for your employees. Who is considered an employee?
    • Permanent full and part-time staff
    • Volunteers
    • Trainees
    • Labour only subcontractors
    • Work experience placements
    • Interns
    • Temps
    • Apprentices
  • Owned and Hired Technical and Portable Equipment
  • Personal Accident

Having insurance will not prevent accidents from happening and they can give you a false sense of safety. You still need to create the safest environment possible for you and for the people around you. But when things go wrong, having insurance can make the difference between staying in business or not.

Photo credit: Andrzej Gruszka

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