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Insurance for Recreational Drone Use


From left to right: CC image by Halftermeyer, CC image by Halftermeyer, CC image by Marco Verch

What is a Drone?

A drone can be any type of autonomously or remotely guided vehicle, but the term commonly refers to aircraft known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Radio control aircraft, such as model airplanes, are also considered UAVs. The distinction between drones and radio control aircraft is not currently well-defined.

Popularity and Future Integration into Airspace

The rapid development of drone technology for the private sector has suddenly launched a new multi-billion dollar industry. The commercial use of these small, next-generation aircraft is expanding exponentially. The FAA has approved commercial drone operations in such areas as agriculture, land surveying, filmmaking, security, and delivery of goods.

Local, State, and Federal Drone Laws

According to the FAA, pilots of unmanned aircraft have the same responsibility to fly safely as manned aircraft pilots. 

Effective December 21, 2015, anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft of a certain weight must register with the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry before they fly outdoors. 

Before flying, acquaint yourself with federal, state, and local laws governing the recreational use of drones.

Confirm If Drone Accidents are Covered Under Your Policy

Using drones can involve risk to property and life in the event of an accident. Generally, homeowners and renters policies cover liability for an accident caused by your drone, but check with your agent or insurer to verify your policy contains this important coverage. Also check if and how your drone is covered in the event it is lost, stolen, or damaged.

Violation of Privacy Concerns

Using drones also potentially carries the risk of invasion of privacy and the unauthorized collection of data. Insurers are developing policies to cover these liability exposures. Keep in touch with your insurer to make sure your use remains covered. Keep in mind that insurance companies will not cover an intentional violation.

If You’re Involved in an Accident

Rules for drones are being developed as UAVs become integrated into our airspace. Insurance companies will follow the developments regarding drone regulations. As regulations become clearer and more complete, insurance companies will be better able to meet policyholders' needs. For now, follow the same procedures as you would with your auto or home insurance.

Tips from the FAA on Drone Use

  • Keep current with local, state, and federal laws regarding drones.
  • Fly under 400 feet.
  • Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport without first obtaining clearance from the airport control tower.
  • Do not fly a drone weighing more than 55 pounds.
  • Avoid flying near people.
  • Keep the drone in sight at all times.