What’s covered and what’s not if your new drone crashes through a window? Kenton Brine, president of NW Insurance Council, offers some scenarios and answers. The answers have been edited for clarity.
Q: If a drone I own/operate (or that my child is flying) for recreational use crashes and causes injuries or damages, am I liable and will my insurance pay?
A: If a drone you own (or have purchased and is being used by a family member) for recreational purposes is involved in an accident and causes injuries or property damage to others, you may be held financially responsible for the cost of those injuries/damages.
It is essential that you review your homeowners insurance policy to determine whether or not your liability for those damages will be covered. We recommend reviewing it with your insurance company or agent before you fly your drone.
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Some insurers may specifically exclude liability for damages caused by a drone. However, we believe that, in most cases, homeowners’ insurance provides liability protection unless the acts leading to the damages were committed intentionally.
Q: What about damage to the drone if it crashes?
A: Homeowners insurance policies typically provide protection for items in your possession.
However, those policies specifically refer to “covered perils,” such as fire, theft and vandalism. Crashes from flying the drone will likely not be covered.
Q: What if I am renting a home or apartment and I have a drone for recreational use?
A: The same standards apply for most renters insurance policies.
Some will cover liability if your drone damages someone’s house (and possibly reimburse your landlord if you damage your rental unit), but others may not. Check your policy to know for sure.
And, if your drone is stolen from your home or car, you likely have coverage. But if you crash your drone, your policy probably won’t pay for a new one.
Q: What role will my deductible play?
A: Homeowners’ and renters insurance policies include deductibles you choose at the time the policy is underwritten. They range from as low as $100 on a renters policy to $500 to $2,500 (typically) on a homeowners policy.
If you are facing a damage or liability claim, it is important to know your deductible before filing an insurance claim. If the covered damages are less than, equal to or just slightly above your deductible, it won’t make financial sense for you to file a claim.
Q: What if I own or operate a drone for commercial purposes, such as construction, real estate, claims adjustment or filmmaking?
A: Commercial use of drones will definitely not be covered by a personal insurance policy.
You will need to obtain a commercial policy specifically covering the commercial/business use of your drone.
Those may be available from a commercial insurance broker, or you may need to contact a “specialty lines” or “surplus lines” broker to find the coverage you need.
There are resources online. I googled “drone insurance” and found some sites, including clubs for drone owners, with details, including the names of insurers and brokers that can help commercial drone users find coverage.