Drones and Insurance

Before you take your shiny new drone to the nearest public place for its maiden flight, it is important to check whether you are insured. Third Party Liability insurance is a must;  even if your drone is small and lightweight, it can still do serious damage to another person or property if it flies out of control due to pilot error, malfunction or a flat battery, and this could leave you open to a lawsuit and huge legal bills.  Even the professionals get it wrong sometimes; in December 2015 World Champion skier Marcel Hirscher narrowly missed being hit by a falling camera drone that was filming his race, and in February 2015 Technical Journalist Dave Mosher crashed his DJI Phantom on live TV whilst demonstrating the importance of drone safety.

You may be covered by your home insurance, but check the wording of your policy before assuming you are, and if you are in any doubt, check directly with your insurers and if possible get it in writing to confirm that you are definitely insured.  Most home insurance policies exclude liability rising from the use of motorised vehicles or aircraft, so it may depend on their interpretation of an "aircraft" and whether they class drones as a toys.  Indeed many insurers are rushing to clarify their policies in light of the recent boom in drone sales, and they are adding clauses to exclude all remote controlled vehicles and aircraft.

Some insurers, such as Amlin, are even excluding drones entirely from their policies, so your drone would not be covered in the event of any loss or damage in your home, and you would not be covered for public liability when flying it.  Aviva on the other hand, class drones as toys and covers them for loss as well as for third party liability, provided they are being used for recreational purposes and not commercially.  If your drone cost over £1000, you may need to declare it as an individual item on your home insurance for it to be covered for losses in the home, so again, check your policy.

If you are not covered by your home insurance then there are specialist insurers out there that cater for drones, although they can be pricey and are mostly aimed at commercial users.

Another option is to join a Radio Contolled Aircraft Flying club, they have reasonably priced annual membership which covers hobbyists for public liability when flying drones and it is a great way to meet like minded fellow flyers.  FPVUK (http://www.fpvuk.org/) offer memberships for £15.80 per year and provides £5 million of cover, and the British Model Flying Association (https://bmfa.org/) memberships costs £33 per year and provides £25 million of cover.  The BMFA is the National Governing Body for the sport of model aircraft flying, and it is involved with the promotion, protection and encouragement of the sport in the UK.

No matter how much care you take, accidents can happen, and you are responsible for any damage or injury caused by your drone.  Why take the risk? Make sure you are insured!