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Drones, Liability, and Insurance

Insurance Insights

Drones have become incredibly popular in the past few years. With high-end options such as camera and video recording equipment, safety and privacy concerns have also heightened. If you are a drone owner and operator, it is crucial to understand what insurance coverage is needed.

Depending on drone type and usage, you may already have coverage in your home insurance policy for damage to the drone and for liability.  Here is a review of some of the information you  will need to determine whether you are properly covered.

The Risks

Although we might think of drones as super cool fun toys, the reality is that drones, sometimes referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), are far more sophisticated than your average “toy”. The FAA classifies most of them as “aircraft”.

It may be surprising to know that there are many instances of drone related accidents documented in the US already. Many of them involve accidents when the drone runs out of power, or incidents where the operator lost control of the drone. These are not always  situations caused by reckless operation. Anyone can experience a dangerous situation that can result in the injury of others,  or cause property damage that can result in high costs. Another concern for drone operators is facing allegations of invasion of privacy.

Drones should be insured with both personal liability coverage and physical damage coverage.

Recreational or Hobby Drones

For drone owners, it’s important to determine whether your drone is covered under your  residential homeowners, renters or condo policy for damage that occurs to the drone.

Fortunately, most policies will cover a drone in the same way they cover personal property or contents. Depending on your specific policy, you may not have to pay any additional amount to make sure your drone is covered.

The use of your drone becomes an important aspect to understand if you are covered under a homeowner policy for your drone. Drones used for business or professional use most likely will not be covered if they are damaged.

You should contact your homeowners, renters, or condo insurance provider and ask whether drones are covered or excluded under your current policy. If covered, what are the limitations and exclusions? What is the deductible? If they are not covered, your provider can also tell you if you can purchase a policy extension or if you will need to seek additional coverage elsewhere.

Insuring for Liability

If you are only using your drone for personal use and not business use, there is no current legal requirement to insure your drone. However, based on the likelihood of accidents that can happen with drones, it is recommended that you protect yourself with liability insurance.

Before you start worrying about your liability insurance, contact your homeowner’s insurance representative and ask them how the personal liability coverage of your policy addresses drones.

Some insurance carriers may not be able to cover the personal liability arising out of the use and ownership of a drone since it is considered an aircraft.  However,  many companies now commonly view personal use drones as a hobby aircraft, and will allow coverage. It will depend on your specific policy.

This is still an emerging and evolving topic for the insurance industry so be sure to discuss this with your agent so they can view the definitions, exclusions and limitations in your policy and see if you need  a separate policy to specifically cover the drone.

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