Ask an Agent / Employer's Liability Insurance / With Guest Blogger Tom Carson

Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column answering your questions about the business of photography– the photography industry’s first Agony Aunt! If you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to Questions can be on anything to do with the photography business, such as photoshoots, marketing, professional practice, pricing, contracts, legal stuff – anything!

For this month’s Ask an Agent we tackle a great question from a young photographer wanting to know who exactly Employer's Liability insurance is needed for.

“I’m a young lifestyle photographer and after a few years of assisting I’m beginning to pick up my own commissions. I’ve heard that it’s a legal requirement to have Employer’s Liability cover for anyone you employ. Could you explain who this covers? Do I need it for all crew involved in a shoot such as models, assistants, stylists, location managers and set builders or are there certain people it’s not applicable for?”

Izzy Russell

Thanks for your question Izzy. Insurance is a serious matter and so I’ve asked Tom Carson from the UK’s leading insurance brokers for the photographic industry, Williamson Carson, to answer your question. Here’s what he has to say…

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“You’re right that it’s a legal requirement to have Employer’s Liability cover for anyone you legally and contractually employ. However the definition of an ‘employee’ in this case is often unclear, which may cause confusion. Generally there are two types of employment contract – labour only sub-contractors and bona-fide sub-contractors. Whether they are considered an employee and therefore whether you need Employer’s Liability insurance for a person depends on which category they fall under.

A labour only sub-contractor is generally understood to be anyone working under your ‘care, instruction and control,’ whether or not a fee is being paid. This includes photography assistants, models, volunteers, work experience people and friends and family helping you – essentially anyone who requires your direction to fulfill their role. A lot of photographers feel they don’t require this cover as they don’t employ anyone on a permanent basis, 
but as labour only sub-contractors are under your control they are legally considered to be employees and you need to have Employers Liability for them.


A bona-fide sub-contractor is anyone working under their own direction rather than yours and charging a fee for their professional services. For example you mentioned stylists, location managers and set builders. These people don’t rely on your direction to fulfill their role in the shoot and therefore are not considered to be an employee. People such as hair & make-up artists, caterers, model makers and so on would also be considered as bona-fide sub-contractors. You don’t need Employer’s Liability insurance for these members of crew, but they should have their own in place.


An Employer’s Liability policy will cover you on a worldwide basis for UK Nationals you employ. However because of such things as local laws, benefits and so forth, if you employ a foreign national in their own country you will need an Employer’s Liability policy in that country. So for example if you employ an Italian in Italy you will require an Italian Employer’s Liability. An exception to this is if you’re not the person responsible for contractually employing and paying the crew, for example when working with a producer or production company. In this instance, they will be responsible for taking out Employer’s Liability insurance."

Thanks Tom! If anyone has any further questions please do comment below.

Williamson Carson & Co Ltd was formed in 1986 by John Williamson and Tom Carson and is the leading Insurance Broker for the photography industry in the UK. Williamson Carson and Co Ltd have been the appointed brokers for the Association of Photographers (AOP) for 20 years. Williamson Carson are also sponsors of our LPA Futures competition, generously offering our winners £250 towards camera insurance.

Whether you’re a creative director or a student, a photographer or a designer, an art buyer or an assistant, if you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to

Please Note:

We reserve the right not to enter into ongoing correspondence.

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This advice should be taken as a guide only.

Lisa Pritchard, LPA and guest bloggers take no responsibility for any omissions or errors.

Please seek professional legal advice should you require it.