Drones were one of the most popular holiday gifts last year, opening a whole new world of fun, adventure and, yes, liability risk for their owners. As the popularity of drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) continues to rise and the cost of ownership decreases, questions about insurance for drone-related mishaps and damage are likely to arise.
If you own a drone, or you are thinking of getting one for home or commercial use, read these FAQs to lower the risks associated with drone ownership.
Will my homeowners insurance cover any damage done by my drone?
Most standard homeowners insurance policies exclude liability coverage for aircraft, but may include coverage for “model or hobby aircraft,” like a personal drone. It’s a good idea to check if your policy does offer this coverage. If it does and you crash your drone and cause bodily injury or property damage, it may be covered by the terms and limits of your homeowners insurance policy.
Will my homeowners insurance allow me to replace my drone if it crashes and is destroyed?
If you crash your drone, and it’s destroyed, you may be able to replace it under the personal property portions of your homeowners coverage. However, the deductible for your property coverage may be more than you paid for your drone. If you buy an expensive drone, consider asking one of our insurance professionals about a homeowners insurance rider to make sure your drone is fully covered if damaged or destroyed.
Are there other types of drone insurance policies should I consider?
Liability coverage for physical damage isn’t the only kind of coverage you might need if you own a drone. Many experts foresee a rise in invasion of privacy claims from drone’s impinging on the physical and “personal” space of others, which would fall under personal injury. If your drone has a camera and accidentally captures images of a neighbor, who feels that you have violated his or her privacy, you could be sued. This is where an umbrella insurance policy or the personal injury coverage of homeowners insurance may be wise for added protection.
What do I need to consider if I use my drone for business purposes?
If you’re considering using a drone for business purposes, you’ll want to check with the FAA first because currently, there are very few cases where drones are legally allowed to be used commercially (although Amazon is certainly trying to break this barrier!). If your request to use a drone commercially is approved then you’ll need to talk to our insurance professionals about the coverage you need based on your specific situation.
Anything else drone owners need to know to reduce drone-related risks?
To prevent any legal problems, you should follow federal law for personal drone use. For example, drones must be flown within your field of vision and at a height of no more than 400 feet above ground, outside of any restricted areas like airports or government installations, such as the White House.
You must also register your drone with the FAA, which has issued new registration requirements for all drone owners. Under these rules, anyone who owned a drone prior to December 21, 2015 must register no later than February 19, 2016. Owners of a drone purchased after December 21, 2015 must register before they have their first outdoor flight. Owners can register with the FAA using paper or online forms.
Schedule an insurance review so you can keep “droning” on!
Above we have addressed some of the main liability and risk issues that you should consider if you have or are going to have a drone. While drones are just emerging as a popular hobby now, in the future, it’s likely that we’ll see a lot more flying around us for both personal and commercial use. Ensuring that you have the proper insurance coverage for your drone is key to avoiding any personal loss or liability as you enjoy your “toy” or even potentially launch a drone-based business. Let one of our insurance professionals help you make sure that you have the drone insurance policy you need. Contact us today!
Michele Merkel is a member of our Commercial Lines Service Department at Kemner Iott Benz and has been with the agency since 1991. Michele enjoys reading, being in the sunshine and in her spare time, helps plan weddings. Michele has lived in Adrian since 1978 and along with her husband, Tom, they have raised 4 great kids.
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