Are you at risk?
Many industry professionals, and even those who regularly engage in the photography and modeling industry have significant assets tied up into their work. Threats can come from a variety of sources including theft, fire, water damage, and even from a group or individual who may have become 'offended' over a situation.
Photographers may carry several thousands of dollars of equipment within a single camera bag. Models may have extensive wardrobes and props whereas a makeup artist often has a considerable investment within his/her supplies. In addition, it is becoming more common that hybrid professionals are emerging such as models who are also photographers. So the question is what happens when a camera or lightstand is damaged, an expensive dress is damaged (e.g. Wedding gown worth thousand of dollars), or someone claims that makeup has caused skin irritation resulting in a loss of work? Is it possible that an otherwise innocent post in social media can result in a lawsuit for slander?
General liability insurance can offer protection for issues such as bodily injury (lightstand falls on a model causing her to trip and sprain a ankle), Property damage (studio owner is unhappy about that damaged lightstand), Libel or slander (Using the studio name when talking about cheap lightstands).
Does homeowners insurance cover everything if a studio is operating in the home? Maybe not if the agent is not aware that you are running a business within your home. You may need to specify certain things such as laptops, smartphones, and in the case of models even exercise equipment through a commercial property rider to your regular home owners account. Even if you home owners insurance is excellent, it is unlikely that it will cover anything when you are away from your home. What happens when a new $4,000 camera is 'accidentally' knocked into the water during a beach shoot? Certain policies may actually offer a Inland Marine clause in which coverage floats with you everywhere you go.
The question that may come to some minds may be that I am not a business but just do this for fun. It may not be that much fun if you ruin a $30,000 wedding gown by an accidental wine spill.
Those who chose to operate as a business can often obtain Business Owners policy that can bundle quite a few of the above such as general liability and property into once lower cost policy. Another question though comes to bear if you brand yourself a business. Generally, unless you specify otherwise your 'business' will be considered a sole proprietorship. Essentially this is a business with no distinction between the owner and the business. You are entitled to all profits and debts of the business. It seems easy and many people select this route but.. If something does happen that puts you at risk BOTH your personal and business assets are at risk!
Another possibility is considered a Limited Liability company. This effectively separates person assets from company related assets which can give you a little more protection should you end up in a complicated law suit.
There are of course other business structures such as Incorporating . Each structure has its own benefits and limitations, however there are many resources on the web or through personal business advisers that may help one with this decision.
So, do you need insurance? Do you need to consider operating as a business?
Something to think about!