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Old January 12th, 2013, 03:33 PM   #1
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how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Hi there,

Last Monday, on a shoot, my EX1—five feet up on a tripod—fell over, lens first, onto the hard floor of a room in a hospital. (I was in the next room, operating another camera; the director was in the control room watching over my camera and another one while some simulation training was taking place. A doctor who was heading up the training rushed past the tripod, and knocked it over). From that height, my EX1 hit with a lot of force; it no longer produced a signal, the whole front end was bent, none of the rings could be turned, there were cracks right along the top handle... it was painful to look at. Anyway, this post isn't so much about how shocked and appalled I was (there was nothing I could do but finish the shoot, minus one camera)... it's about how I should handle my insurance agent/adjustor.

Things didn't get off to a good start. I'm covered, supposedly, for anything that could happen to my gear, whether its stolen from home, or from my car or on location, or whether it's involved in an accident. I pay a $1,000 deductible for coverage of up to $40,000 I think it is (my editing equipment is also covered). After sending my EX1 to a Sony Factory Service Centre in Toronto first thing Tuesday morning, I told my agent that I'd need to rent a camera for an upcoming shoot. I got an email an hour later from the insurance adjustor saying that, "according to the fine print", I'm only covered for the renting of gear IF my gear is damaged at my own home/office premises.
I said that this would be like comprehensive collision coverage for my car that would only be honoured if my car was in a multi-vehicle collision in my garage at home. My agent agreed, spoke with some higher-ups, and they've decided they cover me for camera rental.
That's good, but it makes me a bit leery about how they're going to want to handle the question of repair or replacement.

I'd like to get some advice from long-time camera owner/operators, who've had some experience with this, because I've come to this business kind of late in the game and I've never been in this situation before. Here are the last few details you need to know (I think):

After two days, the Sony Factory Service Centre contacted me (late yesterday afternoon) to say that it'll cost at least $2700 (incl. tax) to repair my EX1, and maybe more… they won't know if the internal electronics also need work until they A. get a new lens assembly from Texas, and B. they attach the new lens assembly and then do more tests. (If the internals need to be replaced, that might be another thousand dollars, according to the Sony guy I spoke with).

I just called with my Sony dealer to get his take on things (he's been an authorized Sony professional dealer for years and he also runs a Sony Service Centre). He said he's seen this kind of front-end damage before and although a technician can add a new front-end and whatever else, he said, bluntly and plainly that "it would be a mistake to try to repair it".
He said that with this kind of damage to an integrated lens camera like the EX1, where the lens is right next to the CMOS sensors and all the electronics, even if someone tries to fix it, the camera is never the same again.

So tell me, please... how do you Sony EX users feel about this? I have a feeling my insurance company is going to say that if Sony can put a new lens on it, I should be fine.
I don't feel comfortable with that plan... if I were a hobbyist, I might be o.k. with it. But I make my living with my camera. I shoot locally and farther afield for corporate clients, and don't have the chance to re-shoot if something goes wrong. If I don't get the goods, I don't get paid, and I lose my good name in the industry. I simply can't risk that.

Am I right to insist that my insurance agent (to whom I pay $1,000-plus a year, supposedly for "peace of mind") get me a new camera? Or should I trust in the Sony technician to fix my camera so that it works like new and not worry about it?

I've never had to deal with camera damage, and an insurance adjustor before, and I'd love to know how best to proceed.
Thanks for any thoughts....
Malcolm
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Old January 12th, 2013, 04:14 PM   #2
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

In general terms and from my experience:

The insurance company will require that the costs to put things right is kept to the minimum, whether that means repairing the camera or replacing the camera.

In a case like this I think it is clear that from your point of view a replacement would be preferable. But the insurers may insist/demand that it is repaired if that is the lower cost option and that is most likely what they are entitled to do. However you are most also probably within your rights to insist that the camera is restored to a condition at least as good as it's pre-accident state.

An important consideration here is whether you took the camera in to be repaired or whether the insurance company told you where to take the camera. If you get the camera repaired yourself, then the contract for the repair is between you and the repairer, the insurers will then re-imburse your expense. It is better for you if you let the insurers deal with the repairers. If the insurers get the camera repaired and it then becomes apparent that the camera is not right, then the insurer is still obliged to put it right or replace it, whereas if you get it repaired then once the insurers have paid out, they will consider the matter closed. The best thing to do is to discuss the situation with your insurers. Tell them of your concerns that a repair may not result in restoring your camera to it's pre accident condition. In addition I would ask for the repair agent to provide a written estimate for the full repair costs and to include a statement either guaranteeing that the camera will be restored to the manufacturers original specifications, or if they can't guarantee that, to say so in the report. You can then use this as either a bargaining chip for the insurance company, or if it is repaired and then fails to work correctly you can take it back to get it properly sorted.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 04:53 PM   #3
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

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Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
It is better for you if you let the insurers deal with the repairers. If the insurers get the camera repaired and it then becomes apparent that the camera is not right, then the insurer is still obliged to put it right or replace it
That's very good advice. In this case the insurers asked me to send my camera in to Sony for an estimate, so I will make sure to let them deal with Sony from here on, for the exact reasons you bring up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alister Chapman View Post
In addition I would ask for the repair agent/ to include a statement either guaranteeing that the camera will be restored to the manufacturers original specifications, or if they can't guarantee that, to say so in the report. You can then use this as either a bargaining chip for the insurance company, or if it is repaired and then fails to work correctly you can take it back to get it properly sorted.
Yes, another good point. By the way, when I told the guy at the Sony Service Centre that I don't feel comfortable depending for my livelihood on a camera that's been that badly damaged and that requires that much repair, and that I'd be telling my insurance agent that I don't want money wasted fixing it, he said (and I quote): "I'd be doing the same thing if I were you".

Just goes to show, I think, that you can add a whole new front end to a camera, but after a fall from that height onto a floor that hard, can even a good Sony technician really ever know what damage might be lurking in the back end of the camera? I don't want to be on a shoot in the Northwest Territories a month from now, to find out.

Any other thoughts are very welcome!
Thanks, Malcolm
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Old January 12th, 2013, 06:49 PM   #4
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

I have never had to deal with a business insurance claim. Hopefully, I never will.

Alister's advice sounds good...although, you might have to be without a 'good' camera for a while.

Good luck with all that...
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Old January 12th, 2013, 07:58 PM   #5
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

This happens everywhere, insurance companies are tough to deal with, they want the cheapest out.
Even then some (read most) will give you a hard time.

There's a similar case; right after the accident the owner assessed the damage took the card out,
then dropped his cam off a balcony onto concrete. Maybe next time.

Cheers.
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Old January 13th, 2013, 04:43 AM   #6
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Should the doctor who threw over the tripod not be paying for the repairs and rent? Or at least his insurance? Over here, that would certainly be the case...
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Old January 13th, 2013, 01:46 PM   #7
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Hi Luc,
You know I was in fact wondering if the doctor who caused this to happen might say something other than 'Sorry', but that's all he said. And then I was half-thinking that when I told my insurance agent what happened he would say that he'd have to talk with the hospital's insurance people, but again, nothing.
It seems that (here in Canada, anyway), an insurance company just wants to resolve things as simply—and I would add—as cheaply, as possible.
Do people on this forum know whether I'd be wise to get a 'second opinion'? That is, get my camera into the hands of another Sony-trained technician, to see what he/she would say?
Regards,
Malcolm
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Old January 13th, 2013, 04:27 PM   #8
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Not entirely sure that this is constructive criticism or discourse but in similar circumstances, I'd never accept a repaired camera that sustained the damage you report.
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Old January 13th, 2013, 04:56 PM   #9
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

I hear you Shaun, and that's how I feel, but I'm afraid there might be a big gap between how I feel, and how my insurer feels.

I can say that I won't accept a repaired version of my camera because it sustained as much damage as it did, but if my insurer says—as Alister says they likely will—that repairing the camera is cheaper than replacing it ("and that is most likely what they are entitled to do"), then who's going to win the stand-off?

My sneaking suspicion is that my insurer has all the power.

I started this thread to find out if that is indeed the case, or if, in fact, I have a valid and legal leg to stand on by insisting on a new camera. I'm not trying to take advantage of my insurer. I just feel, as you do, that a camera that had this amount of damage is a camera, even after it gets a new lens, that I won't be able to trust. And I simply can't afford to have something go wrong on a shoot, and let a client down. If that were to happen I would lose work, lose money and possibly lose my reputation.

If this was a matter of a broken grip, a broken lcd, or broken glass, I'd be fine with a repair. But I know that, with a fixed-lens camera like the EX1, the sensors are right behind the lens... all sorts of tricky, complex electronics is right there too... and all of that stuff took the impact along with the lens.

Any more voices? Do people EX1 and EX1-R owners feel as Shaun does, or do you think that Sony Repair can give me back a perfectly dependable camera (which is what my EX was before this accident)?

Regards,
Malcolm
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Old January 13th, 2013, 05:03 PM   #10
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Not to add too much to the discussion, but as someone who repairs things... I'm a bit nervous when you mentioned cracks up into the handle area - that sounds like it went down with enough force to damage the main "body" of the camera? I'm not familiar with the EX1, so I'm flying blind, but sure sounds like this went past the "lens" area?

I'm also surprised that the "diagnosis" has two stages, one being to replace the lens, and then "see how it goes"? You said it would no longer power on, and I'd venture to guess that means the mainboard may well be damaged, or there are other electronic "injuries", beyond the lens block. No power on = not good, from my experience. Obviously not being "hands on" on the camera, it's hard to say, but as a "fix it" sort, this one sounds like it could turn a bit (a LOT?) worse before it gets better...

You might discuss with your agent whether they want to get into an "open ended" repair situation, which is what this looks like to me, or would prefer to just "total" the camera and reimburse you. Sometimes when approached that way, the "total" makes more sense (keeping in mind that if they authorize $2700 and the camera doesn't work, then another $1000...and maybe it works... you're starting to get into "replacement value" rather quickly, and if the "sunk" repair costs don't "fix" it, they'll have to put out the replacement cost ANYWAY).

Approach them that way and see how it goes, but I suspect they'll see the logic,and you'd get moved on quicker and less painfully. Sell the "remains" on eBay...
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Old January 13th, 2013, 06:44 PM   #11
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

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Originally Posted by Malcolm Hamilton View Post
I hear you Shaun, and that's how I feel, but I'm afraid there might be a big gap between how I feel, and how my insurer feels.

I can say that I won't accept a repaired version of my camera because it sustained as much damage as it did, but if my insurer says—as Alister says they likely will—that repairing the camera is cheaper than replacing it ("and that is most likely what they are entitled to do"), then who's going to win the stand-off?

My sneaking suspicion is that my insurer has all the power.

I started this thread to find out if that is indeed the case, or if, in fact, I have a valid and legal leg to stand on by insisting on a new camera. I'm not trying to take advantage of my insurer. I just feel, as you do, that a camera that had this amount of damage is a camera, even after it gets a new lens, that I won't be able to trust. And I simply can't afford to have something go wrong on a shoot, and let a client down. If that were to happen I would lose work, lose money and possibly lose my reputation.

If this was a matter of a broken grip, a broken lcd, or broken glass, I'd be fine with a repair. But I know that, with a fixed-lens camera like the EX1, the sensors are right behind the lens... all sorts of tricky, complex electronics is right there too... and all of that stuff took the impact along with the lens.

Any more voices? Do people EX1 and EX1-R owners feel as Shaun does, or do you think that Sony Repair can give me back a perfectly dependable camera (which is what my EX was before this accident)?

Regards,
Malcolm
The simple answer is you need ..maybe two.. Sony approved techs to both say the camera is a right off.. thats the only way.. Insurance is legalised extortion .. you are lucky to get so far without having to deal with them.. its a given fact their business is to not pay out,as they tried already with you..only at home office.. and then backed down.. !!! loud alarm bells straight off. and if forced the least possible.. thats their job.. they are not your friend.. hence the above comment.. you should have dropped it out of a window straight away.. a very missed placed sense of justice to not "rip off" insurance companies.. they have been doing it to you for years right.. and they will put up your premiums to pay for it ,even if they do pay out..

They will play you for a mug.. go to war.. take no prisoners .. good luck..
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Old January 13th, 2013, 07:20 PM   #12
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Another question you might consider, can you still buy an EX1? Insurance might not cough up the extra for an EX1R if an EX1 is unavailable.
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Old January 13th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #13
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Dave, Robin and Phil—thanks for chiming in.
re the question: "I'm also surprised that the "diagnosis" has two stages, one being to replace the lens, and then "see how it goes"?"
What I was told by Sony is that it's only after they attach a working lens that they can then test for other issues behind it.
And yes, I'll add up the "possible" costs and present them to my agent. But my worry is that the insurance company will still want to dismiss possible costs as just that... possible. They'll think, if Sony says they can fix it, then it'll be fixed... Anyway, I'll see what they say.
I think I'll take your advice, Robin, and ask for a second opinion. I'll probably have to pay for it myself, but so be it. Will check into that first thing tomorrow. And Phill—no more EX1s around, and in fact, here in Canada, no more EX1-Rs, officially anyway. It's all PMW-200s here now. Same price as the EX1-R was, though, and in fact, at $7,200 Cdn., it's exactly what I paid for my EX1 back in 2008.
Regards to you all,
Malcolm
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Old January 14th, 2013, 01:25 AM   #14
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Hmmm, and what happens if a working lens is attached, and nothing happens... again, without hands on examination, I'd be worried that there will be more issues, I do understand that sometimes you have to take repairs a stage at a time... how far are they asking you to "authorize" the repair?

That may help you somewhat in "negotiating", as you can talk "worst case", and whether it will ever be acceptably repaired - I'm guessing a $1k "wild card" in that first "estimate" might give them a bit of a twitch!

I think you mentioned a $1k deductable, might be time to start calculating what a replacement will cost you, and start searching for a "deal", then keep your fingers crossed for a "settlement", sell the carcass to help offset the $1k...
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Old January 14th, 2013, 01:58 AM   #15
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Re: how to deal with insurance company... any advice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malcolm Hamilton View Post
Dave, Robin and Phil—thanks for chiming in.
re the question: "I'm also surprised that the "diagnosis" has two stages, one being to replace the lens, and then "see how it goes"?"
What I was told by Sony is that it's only after they attach a working lens that they can then test for other issues behind it.
And yes, I'll add up the "possible" costs and present them to my agent. But my worry is that the insurance company will still want to dismiss possible costs as just that... possible. They'll think, if Sony says they can fix it, then it'll be fixed... Anyway, I'll see what they say.
I think I'll take your advice, Robin, and ask for a second opinion. I'll probably have to pay for it myself, but so be it. Will check into that first thing tomorrow. And Phill—no more EX1s around, and in fact, here in Canada, no more EX1-Rs, officially anyway. It's all PMW-200s here now. Same price as the EX1-R was, though, and in fact, at $7,200 Cdn., it's exactly what I paid for my EX1 back in 2008.
Regards to you all,
Malcolm
TBH I would have expected your Sony dealer to tell you straight off.. ok this camera is a right off..(even if it took it accidentally falling off a work bench :).. the damage already sounds very significant .. and no peace of mind using it after /if it get "repaired".. not good service in my option .. write off is better for them and you.. as approved dealers dont think much come back from your insurers.. at least no more than usual Al Capone tactics I would also think about changing insurers if they give you hassle.. vote with your feet..

My Uncle was in Insurance.. he had a big house and a Rolls Royce.. its a great business.. money comes in and then make people fight for a few scraps back.. then just put up the premiums to get your money back.. voila !
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