Indemnification Trust FAQs

Q: What is the Indemnification Trust?

The Indemnification Trust (or simply “the Trust”) is a program offered exclusively to our members. It’s not insurance – it’s a trust fund established to help protect our photographers from allegations of negligence.

We believe so strongly in the need for this protection (because we’ve seen what it saves you from year after year) that all PPA members who identify themselves as wedding or portrait photographers are automatically enrolled in the Trust. It’s a requirement. (If you are not a wedding or portrait photographer, though, you may opt out of the program).

This stuff is important – it protects your reputation and business after all! – but we also know it’s confusing. So don’t hesitate to contact us with questions at csc@ppa.com, 800-786-6277, or via the live chat option on www.PPA.com.

Q: What does the Indemnification Trust cover?

(Bear with us here…this is where we have to dig into the legal mumbo-jumbo a little bit!)

As you read above, the purpose of the Trust is to defend you if allegations of negligence arise from an assignment. This covers situations including the following:

  • Digital image data loss (corrupt media card or hard drive failure) relating to a paid contracted assignment
  • Failure of a photographer to be at the event or assignment at the specified time (These things do happen. Ever had the flu or a car wreck?)
  • Missed or missing images
  • Client dissatisfaction with services rendered during an assignment or as contracted

Now, we’re not all-powerful and can’t cover everything (sorry). Situations that are not considered negligence are not covered under the Trust. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Fee disputes, including disputes regarding return of retainers
  • Claims of invasion of privacy (i.e., failure to collect a model release)
  • Guarantees of quality or refunds made by the photographer
  • Suits alleging dishonesty, intentional fraud, criminal or malicious acts
  • Defamation of character or reputation (i.e., libel or slander)
  • Claims by the photographer against a client, including debt collection
  • Copyright and other intellectual property infringement
  • Vendor disputes

For a complete list of exclusions, please refer to Section 7 of the Indemnification Trust Agreement.

Q: How do you file a claim?

We hope you never need to use this benefit. That said, one of the best things about the Trust is how simple it is to get help handling your issues. Seriously! (Oh, and you don’t have to worry about your PPA rates going up after filing a report with the Trust; all members pay the same participation fee, regardless of the number of reports filed.)

So if you ever find yourself faced with an unhappy client -- or if something goes wrong on assignment -- just follow these steps:

  1. Call PPA's Customer Service Center at 800-786-6277.
  2. File an Indemnification Trust report with a Customer Service Center team member.
  3. You will then be contacted by the law firm that handles all Trust issues.

You can expect to hear from the law firm that administers the Trust within one business day. (I don’t care who you are, that’s fast.) And it means you can immediately address the issue at hand. Just have your contract and other materials related to the claim handy, as this will expedite your claim.

Unsure about whether or not you should file a report? Contact us anyway. We can help you determine your next steps -- at NO cost to you. And remember: Accessing the Trust does not mean that you are taking a step towards litigation. Many times the Trust can help you successfully resolve a situation without going to court.

Q: What happens next…and what else do you need to do?

Trust attorneys will provide you with expert advice and guidance to help defuse an issue or a potential problem with a client. By providing the Trust attorneys with as much information about the issue as possible, you will help them determine the best course of action to assist you in resolving the issue.

As long as your membership remains in "good standing" and you elect to continue working with a Trust attorney, the Trust will be there to ensure the issue is resolved. While some incidents can be handled more quickly than others, it’s important that you keep in close contact with the Trust attorneys. They need to know what's going on between you and your client so they can put your best foot forward.

And just to be clear, the Trust can only expend funds when it has approved a settlement in advance. For that reason, it is important that you contact the Trust before reaching a settlement agreement with the client. Do not attempt to negotiate a settlement or payment before speaking with the Trust attorney, as settlements arranged outside of the Trust are not covered. Should your circumstances require more than an attorney consultation, though, a deductible will apply. The deductible helps cover expenses like data recovery services provided by DriveSavers, limited re-stagings of events and court judgments.

Q: Navigating the Indemnification Trust Agreement

This here is the nitty-gritty, yo. The Indemnification Trust Agreement is composed of 16 sections that define its existence, what it means to be a participant, deductible amounts, how settlements are arrived at and paid, applicable exclusions, and how to report an incident.

We know it’s no fun to review the Trust Agreement, but don’t forget to pay special attention to following sections (that means grab more coffee now):

  1. Agreement for Claims Made Coverage and Purpose of the Trust: This section explains in legal terms the intent of the program and how it will provide assistance to members.
  2. Definitions: Like all contracts, even the Trust Agreement has a definitions section to explain terms that can be found throughout the document. Key information located in this section includes the effective dates of the "Declaration Period" (lasts one calendar year), eligibility criteria, an explanation of a negligent act, and the Trust's ability to cover "losses."
  3. Limits of Trust Coverage and Deductible: This may be the section that is of greatest interest to you since it explains how you and the Trust share expenses in the event a settlement or third party (i.e., attorney, data recovery service) needs to be paid.
  4. Defense, Settlement, Supplementary Payments: This section is just as important as the one describing the deductibles since it discusses how the Trust will help you resolve the incident you reported.
  5. Exclusions: This section may seem daunting as it lists 19 types of incidents or actions that may prevent you from being eligible to receive Trust coverage. The purpose of this section is to give the Trust attorneys a guideline to follow in potentially classifying an issue as "photographer's negligence." Don't let this section discourage you from reporting your issue. Just because the Trust is unable to step in to defend you, there may be another benefit that can help make things right.
  6. Duties in the Event of Claim/Conditions Precedent: Even though you know to call PPA to report your incident to the Trust, this section outlines those steps and gives you basic instruction on what you should (or shouldn't) do until you're able to discuss the situation with a Trust attorney.

If you still have questions -- whether the legal jargon is confusing, or you have questions about coverage or a deductible amount -- don't hesitate to call us at 800-786-6277. We’re here to help you!

Q: What types of PPA members can participate in the Indemnification Trust?

A: PPA members eligible to participate in the Indemnification Trust are those members in the U.S. and Canada in the Professional Active, Additional Associate, Aspiring, Canadian, Life, and Studio Associate membership categories.

Q: How much does it cost to participate in the Indemnification Trust?

A: The cost to participate in the Indemnification Trust is $50 and is covered by your annual PPA membership fees. The $323 (Professional Active Members) or $194 (Aspiring Members) that you have already paid includes this $50 participation fee…that is, unless you are not a wedding or portrait photographer and opted out of the program.

Q: Who is covered by the Trust?

A: The Trust only covers the photographer whose name is listed on the PPA membership. This means that only the participating member is protected against client accusations. Other photographers at the member's studio are not protected by the Trust.

Q: How much is the deductible?

A: For members using the Trust for the first time, there is an affordable $200 deductible.

While your annual fee for participating in the Trust will not go up as a result of your claim history, the number of times the Trust pays out funds on your behalf can affect the portion of expenses you are required to pay. A complete breakdown of the deductible amounts is available in Section 3 of the Trust Agreement.

The possibility of paying a deductible should not discourage you from contacting the Trust for help. As often as the attorneys keep members from going to court, they are equally successful in helping you keep your hard-earned money in your pocket.

Q: When do I have to pay a deductible?

A: There is no fee for filing a claim, having it reviewed by the Trust or consulting with the Trust. You only have to pay a deductible if the reported incident results in a settlement or judgment that involves spending money, such as paying for data recovery services or conducting a re-shoot for an unhappy client. If there is no exchange of money involved, then you do not have to pay the deductible.

Q. In the event of a settlement or a judgment, what kinds of things does the Trust pay for?

A: For covered claims, the Trust can pay for court judgments as well as the hard costs of an approved settlement. Examples include cash settlements and reasonable expenses related to re-staging an event. Since the Trust is not insurance, it cannot pay for lost profits to the studio or for studio overhead, including a photographer's time to reshoot an event. Complete details are included in the Trust Agreement.

Q. For claims relating to data loss, what kind of things does the Trust pay for?

A: Data recovery claims are covered when the lost data is from an active job within the last 12 months and no backup exists. For first time claims, the Trust will cover up to $1,500 in data recovery services, regardless of the size of the drive. However, the Trust cannot cover the cost of replacement media (i.e., a new hard drive).

Q: Why would I need the Indemnification Trust if I carry my own liability insurance?

A: General or Business Liability insurance covers you for incidents like accidents, property damage, and possibly certain types of theft or loss. Liability insurance is commonly referred to as "slip and fall" insurance. However, the Indemnification Trust protects you from accusations of photographer's negligence or occurrences that are perceived to be within your control as a professional.

If you were to compare the Trust to a traditional insurance policy, it would be equivalent to Professional Liability or "Errors and Omissions" insurance. These policies often come with high premiums and deductibles as risks are presumed to be higher. The Trust is an affordable, non-insurance alternative to these policies.

Q: What is the difference between Liability Insurance and the Trust?

A: You must first remember that the Trust is not an insurance program—it is an actual trust fund that provides assistance to participating members. The Trust protects you against accusations of photographer's negligence while a liability policy protects you against potential accidents. While this sounds similar, they cover two distinct types of issues.

The Trust protects you when clients point fingers over something they believe to be within your control as their photographer. Based on the number of incidents reported to the Trust each year, the most common issues deal with data loss, a client's dissatisfaction with the images or product production, or missing shots (often due to data loss or camera malfunctions).

Your liability policy, which we encourage all photographers carry in addition to the Trust, protects you when you, your client, or possibly the venue has suffered harm. This might be falling while on location, having a live animal bite a child, or having your light stand damage a priceless work of art at a museum.


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