With prices dropping on new drones, enthusiastic amateur pilots are out in force. While the fun factor is huge, there’s a side of drone ownership that many new pilots don’t realize: They’ll need insurance.
Given the cost of drones — including a camera, they start at several hundred dollars and run well into the thousands — insurance is great to have in case your equipment crashes and burns or is lost or stolen. Even with a deductible of several hundred dollars, insurance can pay off.
But that’s not all. Drone pilots also can be held responsible for compensation if their drone hurts someone or damages property. “With some models tipping the scales at up to 55 pounds, rogue drones can pose a significant threat to people and property,” points out the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), an insurance industry trade organization.
Here’s the good news: If you already have homeowners or renters insurance, your drone may be covered against loss, theft or damage as part of your personal property.
Renters: Your landlord’s insurance will not cover you, so be sure to have an individual renters policy.
“Many home insurance policies cover personal property and, while there’s an exclusion for aircraft, ‘model or hobby aircraft not designed to fly people or cargo’ are included in the policy, according to a typical homeowners policy from New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co.,” according to Insure.com.
But don’t take our word for it. Policies vary widely, so assume nothing. Read the fine print in your policy and call your agent or insurer if you have doubts or questions.
What about liability?
There’s one piece of the insurance puzzle that requires extra attention: liability. If your drone veers into someone else’s space, accidentally violating their privacy, or causes an accident in which someone is hurt, you could be sued. Once again, your pre-existing insurance coverage might be of help. According the I.I.I.:
The liability portion of your homeowners or renters policy may cover you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people with a drone. It may also cover privacy issues — for example if your drone inadvertently takes pictures or videotapes a neighbor who then sues you. It will not cover any intentional invasion of privacy.
However, even with liability coverage through a homeowners or renters policy, your payout limits may be too low. You may require additional liability protection.
One way to beef up your coverage is to ask an insurance agent about purchasing a separate liability policy.
Two ways you’re not covered
Your homeowners, renters or even separate liability insurance may be of no help in two cases:
- The insurance options described above apply only to people using their drones for fun. If you are using a drone to make money, you’ll need a commercial insurance policy. Even picking up a few bucks as a sideline — photographing for websites or real estate agents, for example — will fall under the “commercial” category and require separate commercial insurance.
- Secondly, liability insurance is meant to cover accidents. If you can be proved to have deliberately caused damage with your drone or to have used it purposefully to spy on someone, your insurer may decline to pay.
Are you tempted to get in on the action with a new drone? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.