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This question already has an answer here:

This question was already asked here

How to insure checked luggage?

...but there were no satisfactory answers. However that was from a few years ago. Since that time we've had new restrictions put in on bringing laptop computers and cameras into the passenger cabin on flights from the ME to the US and UK, and there are heavy rumours that the US government is about to place such restrictions on all flights from Europe.

I travel for photography, so I routinely bring a pair of camera bodies (one for backup) and a bunch of lenses. (I also travel with a laptop) I've always brought them on board as carry-on. The total value of the gear I bring is typically $20K-30K, with maybe $6-10K of that my DSLR bodies. The travel insurance companies I've contacted won't sell me anywhere near that much insurance for checked luggage.

What do people currently do traveling on routes from the ME to the US and UK, for example?

marked as duplicate by Itai, Giorgio, Thorsten S., David Richerby, Willeke May 16 '17 at 16:10

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Take a different route? – Calchas May 15 '17 at 18:18
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    @Calchas today. What about tomorrow? – chx May 15 '17 at 18:22
  • @Itai completely forgot I put pretty much the same answer in that one as well! – Crazymoomin May 15 '17 at 19:11
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    Not an answer, but pack your stuff superlatively well and it should survive most damage. Pelican cases are well-known for this, provided they're not over-stuffed. Plus the case itself carries a warranty against damage. – Criggie May 16 '17 at 3:25
  • @Criggie what about theft (even by airport employees/TSA). Your approach has worked well for me against damage (camera-padding-hard case-padding-suitcase). – Chris H May 16 '17 at 11:25
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Specifically in your case, you should look into an insurance plan specifically for photographers. This Petapixel article lists some of the options.

While some insurers will write policies for photographers on a per-trip basis, there are usually a lot more limitations and higher deductibles than for annual policies. It's important to read the fine print carefully to see exactly what is covered in terms of travel, but they typically can cover your gear at home and on the road, rental gear (this is particularly handy; want a $7,000 lens on a trip? Just email the rental house your certificate of insurance and you're covered), liability, and errors & omissions. Some of the big names, like Hill & Usher or TCP, will do custom quotes based on your specific needs starting around $400-$500/year, while PPA's Photo Care has a pre-determined package starting at $323/year for $15,000 of coverage, with more available as a supplement.

  • Even though the article starts off talking about insurance for "a working professional or a passionate enthusiast", all of the companies mentioned in it seem to only sell to professionals. I'm only an amateur (even though I shoot with pro gear and I've been doing it long enough that I'll stack my skills up against a pro). Will these companies sell to an amateur or do they need proof of business? – user316117 May 15 '17 at 18:47
  • @user316117 do you belong to any photography clubs? Sometimes they can get you insurance, possibly at a discount. I know this is true for a lot of other hobby clubs. – Crazymoomin May 15 '17 at 18:49
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    @user316117 I believe, at least as of a few years ago, that TCP did not need you to form a business entity. I don't think PPA has particular eligibility standards to join either, but you'd have to live in the US for their insurance, and I don't know where in the world you are. Another advantage with a policy like this is that you're not just covered for baggage theft; you've got something if you drop a lens off a cliff too. – Zach Lipton May 15 '17 at 19:06
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If it's that expensive, probably the only reasonable option (other than specialist insurance perhaps) is an "add-on" to your home contents insurance policy for personal effects (but make sure it covers items lost in transit, not all of them do!). You'll need to add it as a "declared item" to your policy, and the insurance company will ask for a brief description as possibly some photographs.

Expect to pay about 0.5-2% of the total value of the item per year added onto your premium, depending on what it is. Some things that are easier to steal like jewellery will cost more.

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    I've been told that this is a Bad Idea if you like your current homeowners policy or carrier because even one claim of this type could result in highly-jacked up premiums or a cancelled policy. I love my Amica homeowner's policy and don't want to put it at risk because some luggage thief at BOS or LHR had a good day. I'd rather just buy a separate unrelated policy even if it's more expensive, but where? – user316117 May 15 '17 at 18:41
  • @user316117 The only other option is specialist insurance, but that might be very expensive or non-existent. While some homeowners polices have a no-claim discount you might lose (which is probably only $30-50) they shouldn't jack up your premium or cancel your policy unless you broke the T&C's. If they do they are a terrible contents insurer and you should switch anyway. – Crazymoomin May 15 '17 at 18:45
  • @Crazymoomin I don't know about contents insurance, but jacking up the premiums after a claim is a common problem with motor insurance in the UK (even if you have a protected no-claims discount). – Martin Bonner May 16 '17 at 11:23
  • @MartinBonner it would depend on by how much. If it was a lot I would call them and say if you don't reduce my premium I'm moving to X (assuming X is cheaper). That can get them to back down. The same could theoretically happen with travel insurance too. – Crazymoomin May 19 '17 at 12:41
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You could pre-ship your equipment to your destination, which would allow you to insure the package using parcel insurance provided by the carrier. This would meet your "separate policy" clause, and will (theoretically) compensate you for damage or loss.

I say theoretically because having worked in cargo claims, you have to be very mindful about the T&Cs under which they'll actually pay out. It varies by carrier. I've seen many, many customers burned by things like concealed damage or hidden water damage, or finding out after the fact that items like glass aren't covered "unless it's packaged with 2" styrofoam on all sides by one of our licensed agents and you pay extra for third-party insurance and it's shipped in a box that fits these dimensions and does not apply to international shipments" and so on.

Or the best one-- you note at the time of delivery that $20K of equipment was smashed, file a claim within the timeframe, you take pictures, provide receipts from 10 years ago, jump through all the hoops and basically do everything right...then 6 months later you receive a check for a whopping $3.00, because claims for the "insurance" you purchased are paid based on weight of the items lost, not their value.

It's an option, but it's risky. Tread carefully.

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