Episode #10: All About Insurance, with Karen Kasmauski and Stacey Vaeth
This episode is all about insurance — and I promise it’s interesting! And it’s important, too. Almost every guest on this podcast has talked about insurance, but I’ve mostly edited out those parts. I decided to go through my podcast archive and bring the two best insurance conversations into this episode.
First up is documentary photographer Karen Kasmauski from episode #2. She’ll talk about life, disability and long-term care insurance. And actually, when I told her I wanted to use her outtakes about insurance for this episode, she asked to re-record, which I’m glad we did because it turned out really well. After Karen is portrait and commercial photographer Stacey Vaeth from episode #8. She’ll talk about gear insurance, including a very handy tip if you ever have your gear stolen.
Insurance is vital for protecting your life, your stuff and your ability to earn money. Insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially for a self-employed photographer or creative person. But that makes it even more important for you: insurance is generally less costly than paying cash or going into debt for a medical bill, a new camera or weeks without working due to an injury. Insurance is there to give you peace of mind.
LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE
Karen Kasmauski’s website
Karen Kasmauski’s Instagram
Stacey Vaeth’s website
Stacey Vaeth’s Instagram feed
Cinematic Orchestra Cello Loop by Wanderexplore
Happy Upbeat Cello by Audiokraken
Encounter by Sound of Picture
On My Way by Kevin MacLeod with a Creative Commons License
Coast Highway by Sound of Picture
FULL TRANSCRIPT from 00:29
Laura Hi and welcome to Creative and Moneywise, the podcast where photographers share their stories about money and their career. I’m your host, Laura Elizabeth Pohl.
Today on the show we’re talking all about insurance. I promise this will be interesting – and important, too. So, almost every guest on the podcast has talked about insurance, but I’ve mostly edited out those parts. I decided to go through my archive and bring the two best insurance conversations into this episode.
First up is Karen Kasmauski from episode #2. She’ll talk about life, disability and long-term care insurance. And actually, when I told her I wanted to use her outtakes about insurance for this episode, she asked to re-record, which I’m glad we did because it turned out really well. After Karen is Stacey Vaeth from episode #8. She’ll talk about gear insurance, including a very handy tip if you ever have your gear stolen.
We’ll start with Karen.
Karen When we’re young and starting our careers, we don’t think much about our mortality or even getting injured or anything like that.
I remember a great photographer, Chuck O’Rear, telling me because I was early in my career. He said, look, health insurance is great. You should have it. Life insurance is wonderful if you can afford it. But what you really need to worry about is disability insurance. And I thought, wow, what’s that all about? And he said, as a freelancer, if you get injured, you’re out of work for several months. Your bills aren’t paid. You could lose your house, you could lose your car, you know, anything that needs a regular payment, even your electricity and water, right.
And so that was something I hadn’t even thought about. Like a lot of young photographers. We don’t think about the fact that we might be disabled. And I ended up getting disability insurance for me. even though my husband had a full-time job, we relied on both of our incomes to pay for the mortgage of the house, as well as just living. And of course, we didn’t even have children at that time. So, once we had children it became even more critical because then, you know, if something were to happen to me, that’d be half our income gone
Laura Do you remember how much your first disability insurance policy cost and what it covered?
Karen It covered, I think several months of salary, what you would assume your monthly salary was. At that time, I was working fairly full time for National Geographic as a freelancer. So, my salary was actually quite high. I was on contract and I was traveling a lot for them. And so, as a result, we had a mortgage payment that matched that. I had a car payment. We could have done without a second car. But then, you know, things like the kids needed, we were in a Catholic school system for our children. So, would we have to pull them out of that? I mean, there was a lot of things. I don’t remember the details. It’s been like 20 years ago, but there was a lot of things we had to worry.
Well, health insurance came with my husband’s full-time job, so that was lucky for me. But then we had both disability and we had a life insurance policy also, and the life insurance policy was, at that time, mostly for Bill. And that would cover the house mortgage payment should he die I mean, that means our house would completely paid for. So, I wouldn’t have that debt on me cause we had two kids at the time. We still have two kids at this time.
Laura You still have two kids. That’s great. Karen, I’m very happy. Plus, you have a grandchild, too.
Karen Plus, we have a grandchild on top of that. So, at the time these kids were younger, they were still living with us.
Yeah, with me we also got life insurance because if I were to die, Bill would need to get help to raise the children in terms of cooking or cleaning or nannies or whatever.
Laura I’m actually so glad you brought up life insurance in addition to disability, because I think these are two types of insurance that photographers don’t think about a lot. I mean, when I hear people talk about insurance, I just know right away that they’re actually referring to gear insurance. Like everyone’s so obsessed about which company do I go for, for gear insurance? Do you have problems, you know, making a claim? It’s like, like gear actually easy to replace. Lost work? Not easy to replace. Your actual life? Impossible to replace. And, I think especially when you’re young, you need to think about getting these policies because it is cheaper when you’re younger.
Karen Absolutely. Yeah, they stay the same sort of level of fees for a long time. So you can kind of lock that in. And we actually, at our age now we’ve got rid of our life insurance policy because our kids are now out of the house. So we would figure if something were to happen to one of us, we would just sell the house and downsize because we don’t need this size house anymore because both our adult children are gone and into their own, their own apartments. So we do have, however, disability and now we’ve gotten something new, which is long-term care.
Laura So some people might not know what long-term healthcare insurance is. Can you give a quick little definition of it?
Karen Yeah. Let’s say horribly, you have a stroke. And you’d have to be in a recovery facility for several months. They are very, very expensive. And they’re not covered by your health insurance unless you have it somehow in your built into your health insurance policy. And usually it’s only for a couple of weeks.
So that’s what a long-term care insurance is all about. And as you get older, the likelihood of you or your partner, something happened to them starts going up. So, you want to be in a good place for recovery, but that stuff can be extremely expensive, like a thousand, $1,500 a day sometimes. I mean, just really expensive. And so that’s what this insurance covers and it covers it for a very long time, like sometimes years. Yeah, and it’s, it’s kind of, lots of us our age or younger would think about, oh my parents, but it can happen to you too. It can happen to us, any one of us. And it could happen at any time.
Laura Thanks so much to Karen for sharing her stories and thoughts. It’s that last sentence she said that really hits home for me about the important of insurance: it could happen at any time. I know some people feel insurance is wasted money if you don’t make a claim. I understand that feeling. And that may actually be the case for some types of insurance, like trip or an extended warranty. But the point of insurance is to give you peace of mind in case the unthinkable happens.
Now we’ll turn to Stacey, who actually did have to make an insurance claim.
Stacey It was Halloween. And I was on a shoot and I was at my own house and it was evening. And my clients, we had been working until right up until dusk and the kid was, the child was just like done, which sometimes happens. Their things were inside. I was like, okay, like shoot’s done. Kids always call it. Let’s go inside.
So, we all went inside and I had my camera still around my neck, but I had my gear bag, which I normally would leave just inside the hallway. And for whatever reason, I had brought it out and put it like next to my hedge. And it had all my lenses in it and my memory cards. And we went inside, we wrapped up everything, you know, spent maybe 20 minutes, a half an hour together talking, getting their things together, got them on the road.
It’s Halloween. I go inside. I always would like make a big dinner and then go outside with a glass of wine and hand out candy. And it was always just this really fun, you know, sort of evening for me. So, I went through my whole routine. And then it was late that night and like, I don’t know, maybe midnight. And I went outside realizing in a panic, what I had done that I left my bag and it was gone. And so yeah, it was $10,000 worth of gear.
Laura Oh my gosh, Stacey!
Stacey And the next morning at 8:00 AM, I had a portrait. That evening, I had a three-hour wedding. Saturday, I had a full wedding. Sunday, I had two portrait sessions. So, I was like, thank gosh that I had my camera and my favorite 85 mm prime lens on me. That was the only saving grace. But the next day between my portrait session and my wedding, I literally went to the camera store and did a combination of buy and lease for everything that I had lost. I had two lines of insurance actually, but you know, it’s an insurance company. They didn’t cover everything.
One little tip to all of your listeners is anything valuable, get the… What’s it called, the code on it? The, yeah, get the serial number and write it down when you buy it. Because I had a serial number for a couple of items, but not for everything. And those serial numbers actually go, they have to be run at the pawn shop before the pawn shop can sell something to see if it’s been filed at the police or not. So, they found two flashes at the pawn shop.