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Do I Really Need Drone Insurance?

small-droneIs it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s a drone. The gift your child just opened this past holiday. Freshly unwrapped and ready to fly, it’s one of thousands of new drones that will fill the skies in 2016.

You didn’t think about it beforehand, but now that the drone is out of the box and buzzing through your home, you’re beginning to worry. You realize that your kid has absolutely no aviation experience. Your child is no pilot. And despite weighing all of four pounds, this drone has quickly proven itself as a likely nuisance to you and your neighbors.

Nuisance how? Let’s say this brand new four-pound drone makes its way across the street, crashes into a window and shatters it. Not only will your unfortunate neighbor scoff at you as your child cleans up the wreckage – but someone will have to pay for the damage.

Homeowners insurance and drones

Coverage varies from policy to policy and carrier to carrier. For example, Allstate homeowners insurance covers policyholders if their drone crashes into and damages someone else’s property. However, it does not cover first-party claims, such as if that same drone crashes and damages the policyholder’s own property.

State Farm holds firm that its homeowners insurance policies generally cover drone accidents like any other claim, and that drones create no new obstacle or coverage category.

Other providers of drone insurance

According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), 2015 U.S. sales for small drones are projected at 700,000 units – a 63% increase from 2014. And with drones ranging from $40 to $3,000, there’s a model for every budget.

As more drones enter the hands of more people, the chance of a drone being operated by an inexperienced, novice pilot increases.

That potential has spurred the formation
of groups like the broken-windowAcademy of Model Aeronautics, an Indiana-based organization for model aircraft enthusiasts and provider of one of the only insurance policies designed to cover hobbyist drone pilots. The AMA’s 185,000 members pay $75 each year to enjoy $2.5 million in personal liability coverage and $25,000 in medical coverage for drone claims.

From a legal perspective…

At the end of 2015, a new law went into effect requiring all small drone owners to register their device with the federal government. The law seeks to help fact-finding authorities better investigate drone accidents and illegal flights. Only small drones weighing less than 250 grams are exempt from the legislation.

This is one of the few existing regulations that govern drone usage. The lack of a more extensive body of law overseeing the small drone industry creates a slippery surface – not only when filing insurance claims – but when litigating disputes as well.

Essentially, there is an imbalance of coverage and regulation. Though many predict regulation is coming soon, such an imbalance makes it difficult to create a definite body of rules and to train new attorneys.

However, perhaps even more of an impetus in the evolution of drone litigation is the consumer demographic. Most small drone operators lack the financial resources that make civil litigation feasible or even possible. That’s why large companies, such as Amazon, real estate firms, motion picture studios, etc. are far more susceptible to regulation and much more likely to obtain insurance coverage.

So…should you get drone insurance or not?

Don’t rush to put your child’s drone back in the box. Check your homeowners insurance policy for the inclusion or exclusion of small drone coverage. If you aren’t covered, contact your insurance carrier immediately to learn about the next steps.

The Law Office of D. Hardison Wood can help!

If you or your property have been injured or damaged by a small drone, the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood is equipped to fight for you. Contacts us today to learn more!

This entry was posted in Child Safety & Injury, General, Personal Injury.
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