Safe Flying - Top 5 Insurance Tips for Drone Owners

The number of drones and quadcopters in the UK has really taken off. Once used only by the military, they’re now an essential piece of kit for many businesses as well as providing some weekend fun for more and more of us.

If you’re a hobbyist you might not have given a second thought to drone insurance. But the right insurance is an essential to protect yourself financially if your drone is damaged or stolen or, worse, causes damage or injury to someone or something. Get the peace of mind that you’re covered with our top 5 insurance tips for drone owners.

1) Are you operating your drone commercially?

From construction and agriculture to the emergency services and film crews, unmanned aircraft (UA) are proving invaluable to more and more businesses. If you’re using your drone for commercial purposes you’ll need to take out specialist insurance. Options include worldwide cover and policies that extend to protection during storage and transportation as well as in the air.

2) Check if your recreation drone is covered by your home insurance

If you’re flying your drone for fun, don’t assume that it is automatically covered by your home insurance. In some cases, it might be, but it’s essential to check with your insurer first. The rise in the popularity of drones, and the accompanying rise in risk, means some insurance companies have now changed their home insurance policies to specifically exclude drones. Or you might find that your drone is covered if it is stolen from your property or destroyed in a house fire, but you are not protected if it is damaged outside of your home, for example during transportation or when you are flying it.

3) Consider replacement costs


Drones don’t have to cost £hundreds, but a lot of drones are worth substantially more. If your drone falls towards the lower end of the market, consider whether your home insurance excess would negate the point of making a claim if your drone is damaged. If your drone is at the upper end of the price range you may need to specify it as a high-value item on your home insurance in order to make a claim. In these cases, it is sometimes more cost effective to take out specific drone insurance.

4) Do you need public liability insurance?


Did you read the report in 2016 about the two wedding guests who brought a case against the groom who they claim was flying a drone at the reception, which then crashed into their faces?

No matter how good you are at flying, and how well you think you have checked that an area is clear, things can and do go wrong. Human error, malfunction, and dead batteries can all lead to your drone crashing out. As well as damaging your drone itself, if your drone crashes it can hit someone or something, causing substantial damage or injury.

If you are flying your drone anywhere where this could happen, public liability insurance could be considered an essential. It will cover your legal fees if a claim is brought against you as well as any damages that you are ordered to pay out.

And it’s not just claims for damage or injury that can be brought against you. If your drone has a camera attached to it, you could also be sued for invasion of privacy or data protection.

In our no-win, no-fee culture, making a claim against you is easier than ever, so insurance can give you real peace of mind when you’re flying.

5) Always fly within the law


A drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has to be flown within certain safety rules, just like any aircraft. Check out the Civil Aviation Authority(CAA) guidance on keeping your drone flight safe and legal and look at dronesafe.uk for their simple to follow Dronecode. This includes flying your drone at least 50m from people or property and keeping your drone below 120m.

Failing to comply with the rules can result in a criminal prosecution. For example, you could be sentenced to up to five years in prison if your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft. It’s also important to remember that whilst insurance is there to protect you financially, it will be invalidated if you don’t follow the law on flying.

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Comment by Nikola Rabchevsky on February 2, 2017 at 2:00pm

IMHO, the insurance companies are milking it hard.  I've gotten quotes that are in the five figure range.  Totally ridiculous.

Comment by Gary McCray on February 2, 2017 at 2:33pm

Hi Matthew,

I'd like to inject a few thoughts here.

First, liability is the biggest reason for a need for insurance, and clearly you have your neck stuck out when you are doing something as high profile as "flying a drone".

Right now, insurance companies have not yet felt the need to establish a serious response to "drones".

The net result is that in many cases practical, reasonable and affordable insurance simply isn't available.

Leading to the result that most if not all drone flights are being conducted without drone insurance, or with the hope that they will be covered by their "other" insurance.

I do not see this problem as likely to be resolved quickly, for one thing, insurance companies are always going to presume the worst and charge for premiums accordingly, and right now, their lack of knowledge translates to charging enough so that they are sure they will remain profitable no matter what happens - which is by any reasonable measure many times too much.

To that end and speaking to those of you who do not have insurance or questionably applicable insurance, the most important thing to do is to minimize your real liability.

The FAA provides excellent regulations and guidelines for flyuing in such a way that your potential exposure to bodily injury should be very small.

Basically do not fly near or over people.

Also, do not get more drone than you need, the smaller and lighter, the less damage it will/can cause.

The Mavic is an excellent high capability video and photo drone, usable for 95+ percent of all drone photo video multicopter applications.

If all you needed was a Mavic and you are flying a big Inspire, Hex or Octo, you are actually costing yourself money both in higher operating costs and in greatly increased real liability.

Go buy a Mavic!

Property liability is much less and with a small light drone can be practically non-existent.

The best insurance you can have is to fly in such a way that you truly will never need it.

My friend Oliver sells high brilliancy vests that state your professional drone status, FAA 107 affiliation and warn bystanders to stand clear during operation.

A great way to head off lookyloos and interested bystanders when you need to be concentrating on flying.

- Cheap insurance and lends an aura of professionalism and acceptability sorely needed by our community.

Clearly it would be better to have insurance and eventually the need will become widespread enough for it to become practical.

In the meantime fly small and light and competently and stay away from people.

Best,

Gary

Comment by Gary McCray on February 2, 2017 at 7:56pm

PS - Update Oliver is using Verifly which lets you get a million dollars worth of insurance for $10.00 an hour when you need it by the hour conveniently using a phone app to specify the times.

https://verifly.com/

For the time being, this seems like a really easy approach especially for occasional use.

Best Regards,

Gary

Comment by Ernst Von Schmidt on February 3, 2017 at 8:22am

The vests Gary McCray references can be seen at www.microaerialphoto.com. Regarding insurance, if you are in the US and flying recreationally and commercially under an FAA 333 Exemption or a Part 107 Certification, then look into the on-demand app-based hourly liability insurance from Verifly cited by Gary, link is in his above comment. If you fly purely for recreation and under CBO safety guidelines, then join the AMA  and you're covered for liability. (You should join the AMA in any event, because despite nonsense posted by haters and nutcakes the AMA is arguably the only reason any of us are still flying anything.)

Comment by Gary McCray on February 3, 2017 at 11:32am

Hi Ernst,

+1 regarding the AMA,

For recreational "drone" use, their insurance is top notch and it is largely through their tireless efforts that the FAA regulations for all of us are as reasonable as they are.

In the US at least we are really lucky things have worked out for us as well as they have and the AMA has been our main advocate.

Best,

Gary

Comment by Tony Kenward on February 4, 2017 at 7:21am

Gary / Ernst,

thanks for the link for the safety vests.  Those are brilliant (*no pun intended?*).  I have been trying to find a cost-effective UAV fashion for some time, and those are just what I was imagining.

Gary,

although I agree that the Mavic is an effective out-of-the-box (*expensive*) photo/video platform, uhhhhhm, well, you do realize that you're on a 'DIY' website.  And an open source advocate website.

Don't buy a Mavic.  Build a better copter!!  Heh.   ;-)

Comment by Gary McCray on February 4, 2017 at 11:05am

Hi Tony,

A lot of people read our DIYD web site, some of them actually want to build "drones" but a lot just want to get drones that can do what they want and that is DIYD enough for them.

Commercial users in particular are understandably more interested in "available" solutions than rolling their own.

For commercial photo/video use a Mavic is really a cheap solution that would actually cost considerably more in parts (let alone time) to duplicate.

Also lets not forget that the primary result of this web site was the Solo which was really the first practical for general commercial use quadcopter.

I'd definitely say that even though the title is DIYDrones, it is not really limiting in any way and people with all levels of interest and needs have always been welcome here.

When I first started here 6 years ago, Ardupilot and it's DIY applications were the primary (sole really) reasons for the existence of this site.

Of course then, any undertaking was DIY by definition.

As time went on, more and more and better and better commercial equipment became available and our memberships interests were as varied as what was available.

Now things have moved on to the point where the Ardupilot community has actually separated itself from this site (rightly) and this site is still supporting the widest possible set of interests DIY and otherwise, including rovers and autonomous ground vehicles.

It still has a strongly DIY bent (at every possible level,) but it welcomes members and information at all levels.

For a lot of people who's main goal is to shoot high quality video or photos, to advise them to DIY their own would be a disservice and disingenuous at best.

I believe it is an important aspect of the "advice" that we give to others that it be as widely applicable and useful to them as possible.

I love DIY and have built dozens of fixed wing and quadcopters, but I also own 2 Solos and will probably get a Mavic, while it is definitely not a DJI site, this site is for us all.

My thought anyway.

Best Regards,

Gary

Comment by Matthew Rochford on February 6, 2017 at 7:08am

Thanks for all the comments and input.  I'm glad my post has triggered some good conversations!

Comment by CliffN on April 18, 2017 at 7:51pm

so How do we ensure DIY builds if ever we bring them out public.

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