Tens of thousands of people have purchased drones for Christmas, and more are buying them as 2016 continues, especially as more affordable drones hit the market. That’s good news for drone manufacturers, but consumers might be facing a problem they never realized they would have.
If you’re a drone owner, do you have insurance? Do you actually need insurance for that drone?
The answer might just surprise you.
The Need for Insurance
Most RC aircraft owners don’t worry about insurance, so why would drones be any different? There are some very good reasons, and they all tie into the difference between flying a drone and other types of RC aircraft.
Consider the fact that most RC airplanes are flown in wide open, empty areas where there’s no chance of the airplane crashing into a car, or through the window of a building. Now consider the fact that the vast majority of drones are flown in urban or suburban areas where the chance of having such an accident is much, much higher.
Let’s say you’re out flying your drone in a public park. You’re obeying the law, and keeping things safe.
However, one of the motors cuts out and the drone skews to the side, out of the park and through the window of a car sitting in the parking lot. Who pays for the damage?
What if it went through the window of a house or apartment building instead? Is it the homeowner’s responsibility to pay for repairs?
Actually, many homeowner’s insurance policies do cover this sort of damage. The problem is that with the dramatic increase in drone ownership, the issue is becoming more and more widespread and insurance companies are starting to take a second look at whether they should be covering these sorts of accidents.
Consider the fact that the FAA estimates there will be 30,000 drones in the air in the US by 2020.
It’s not just worried homeowners and insurance companies that are becoming concerned about the question of insurance. More and more drone owners are as well.
There are several different policy types on the market that cover drones, but they’re somewhat limited.
For instance, the insurance available through the Academy of Model Aeronautics will help, but it doesn’t pay out anything until the homeowner’s insurance is exhausted (putting the onus on the homeowner, rather than the drone pilot). Another option only covers recreational drones, but does not cover drones used for business or industrial purposes.
Yet another consideration here is whether the insurance will cover your drone if you’re doing something illegal, such as flying it within five miles of an airport, or near manned aircraft. Most insurance policies won’t pay out at all in these instances, making it more important than ever to ensure that you’re flying by the rules.
Perhaps the best bet for drone pilots worried about crashing and causing damage is to invest in an advanced model that offers automatic takeoff and landing capabilities. These are the two riskiest periods for any pilot, and advanced models automate the process, reducing the risk of crashing.