Drones have grown in popularity in recent years as a hobby enthusiasts take to the sky, but without the proper preparation, you may find yourself in legal trouble or out a significant amount of money if your drone should crash.
While there is currently no law mandating insurance for drones, accidents can be costly and result in loss of use or high repair bills. Even more unsettling are potential legal issues involving privacy invasion or injury should a drone under your operation cause harm to persons or property. The best solution to protect yourself is to obtain insurance for your drone.
Insuring Your Drone Against Damage
Many accidents with drones occur when batteries run out of power or when the operator loses control of the drone causing it to crash unexpectedly. Newer drones install fail safes, such as automatically returning the drone to home base before batteries lose a charge, but operator error isn’t the only issue you’ll need to safeguard against. A 2016 study revealed that 64 percent of drone crashes were related to technical malfunctions.[i]
When drones crash, repair costs range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the type of drone and the damage incurred. Generally, the more you paid for your drone to purchase it, the more you can expect to shell out for repairs.
Damage through fire, theft or natural disaster may be covered under your homeowners or renters policy, but if your drone is harmed during operation, your standard insurance probably won’t cover it. That’s why it is wise to look into specialty coverage if you’re operating a higher-cost drone.
Invasion of Privacy
While damage insurance is considered optional for many hobbyists, liability insurance is something every operator should look into. Most drones are equipped with cameras and recording devices that can inadvertently invade someone’s privacy.
For instance, a real estate agent catching a video of a property can easily pick up private activity occurring in the home or a neighbor’s home and risk legal action. The same holds true for hobby operators.
Given the highly sensitive equipment on some units, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for high resolution cameras on drones to pick up other sensitive activity, such as a homeowner entering numbers into their home security system.
If someone claims your drone violated their privacy and you didn’t deliberately break the law, insurance can help cover legal expenses and damages.
Damage to Another’s Property
Drone crashes or even pilot error can harm individuals or property on the ground, leaving you responsible for medical expenses and legal fees, as well as the costs associated with replacing or repairing property. To protect yourself against being sued if your homeowners liability coverage doesn’t pay for everything or has defined limits, you may want to look into purchasing specialized drone coverage.
Before you jump on the drone bandwagon, understand what your homeowners and renters policies cover. Make sure you understand any limits set forth, and if need be, look into purchasing additional coverage to protect yourself and your drone.