This question has come up more frequently over the past couple of years. Most individuals have not thought of the liability exposure when operating a drone for pleasure, or for business use. These exposures can consist of property damage, bodily injury, and invasion of privacy. Here are some facts concerning drone usage personally, and professionally:

Personal Drone Use Insurance

  1. You must have a Homeowners or Renters Insurance policy to be covered for property damage, and bodily injury liability. Coverage will only be up to your policy limits, which are typically $300,000. You might have a gap in coverage if you severely injure another person. Obtaining a higher liability limit of $1,000,000 is suggested.
  2. Liability from your Homeowners or Renters Insurance does not extend to invasion of privacy claims. For instance, you are taking aerial photos of your neighborhood, and you inadvertently snapped a photo of someone “sun-bathing” in their backyard. You could be subject to a lawsuit, and no coverage will be provided under your insurance policy.
  3. Damage to yourself or family members will not be covered under your Bodily Injury Liability coverage. You cannot be liable to yourself, so you will want to make sure you have appropriate health insurance.
  4. Damage to your personal property will be covered under the appropriate policy coverage. For example:  If your drone falls and hits your car, this would be covered under Automobile comprehensive coverage. However, if you do not have comprehensive under your Auto Insurance policy no coverage will be provided.
  5. Damage to the drone in most cases would be covered under your Homeowners or Renters insurance policy. This would be subject to your policy deductible.
  6. Beware of letting a friend operate your drone. Liability follows the owner, so if your friend causes property damage or bodily injury you would be held liable.

Commercial Drone Use Insurance

  1. You must have Commercial Liability Insurance to be covered for property damage, and bodily injury liability. Coverage will only be up to your policy limits and could have exclusions, so make sure you review your current policy for any drone operation exclusions.
  2. An “insured” operator must be an owner, partner, spouse, or employee of the business. Letting your buddy operate the drone will not extend coverage from your Commercial Liability Insurance policy.
  3. Again, most policies will exclude coverage for invasion of privacy claims. You may want to consider purchasing a “drone liability” policy, which we will discuss later.
  4. Damage to the drone would be covered under Business Personal Property or Inland Marine policy. Discuss this with your insurance agent to see what would be more appropriate for your business.
  5. Injury to yourself or employees by the drone will fall under Workers Compensation Insurance. Make sure you have this coverage in place.
  6. Damage to your building, vehicles, or equipment by the drone will be subject to the appropriate policy covering those items. Again, your Commercial Liability Insurance will not provide the coverage, since you cannot be liable to yourself.

What Should I Do To Make Sure I Have Appropriate Insurance?

  1. You should speak to your agent, and explain what you will be doing with the drone. Your agent should be able to advise you on the measures you need to take to ensure you have proper coverage.
  2. You should look at carriers that specialize in drone liability coverage. For example, the company Verify, provides up to $1,000,000 of short-term liability coverage while the drone is in flight. Their website states that coverage can be purchased for as little as $10 an hour depending on flight path, and drone type. This is an app you can download and will communicate with your drone to charge you the correct premium. After reviewing their sample policy, it appears to have broader coverage especially those operating drones commercially. They also extend liability to invasion of privacy claims, if deemed accidental. Their policy excludes liability coverage for packages or other items carried by the drone during flight.

Hopefully, we dispelled some of the myths and offered some clear concise information about insuring your drone. Drones are a lot of fun personally and have a lot of useful business applications as well.  Proper drone usage should be encouraged and insured appropriately.  If you wish to discuss this topic further, we look forward to hearing from you.