Drone Coverage Under Your Home Policy
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are almost 1.2 million registered recreational drones zipping around our skies, flown by almost 200,000 certified remote pilots.
With such a massive increase in popularity over the past several years, you’re probably curious about drones—especially how they might impact your safety and security.
In this article, I’ll discuss a little bit about drones, why they’re a potential concern, and how your homeowner’s policy might respond to different coverage scenarios.
What is a Drone?
‘Drone’ is a term that simply refers to unpiloted aircraft, which also goes by alternate terms like Unmanned Aircraft System, Unmanned Air System (UAS), or Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
Most homeowner’s policies specifically exclude coverage for “bodily injury or property damage arising out of the operation, maintenance, use, loading or unloading of an aircraft,” whether owned or loaned to you.
However, as long as drones are not used or designed to carry people or cargo, and are not used for commercial or business purposes, many insurance companies classify them as “model or hobby aircraft.”
Are Drones Covered Under Personal Property?
Because of their ‘hobby’ classification, most insurance carriers consider drones personal property, and would cover them up to your policy limits, less your deductible.
Under a basic policy, coverage includes all standard perils (fire, theft, vandalism, wind, etc.), whereas an all-risk policy provides coverage, unless a cause of loss is specifically excluded.
Just keep in mind that if you use your drone for business purposes in any capacity (e.g., filming a wedding or sporting event for a client), you’ll need to take out a commercial policy in order to cover it. Otherwise, if your drone is damaged and your insurance company finds out it was used for business purposes, even if the loss occurred during personal use, they may deny your claim.
Will Homeowner’s Insurance Extend Liability Coverage to Drones?
Drone-related liability claims can occur under many different scenarios, so let’s explore several below.
Property Damage Liability
You and a friend are flying your drone around in your back yard. You’re about 30 feet in the air when a strong gust of wind throws the drone off course, causing you to briefly lose control.
In a split second, the drone dives toward your neighbor’s house and crashes through the folding glass doors that lead out onto their patio. Since the doors are custom, it will be an expensive repair.
Fortunately, this in an instance where the liability portion of your homeowner’s insurance would likely pay for the repairs, less your policy’s deductible.
Bodily Injury Liability
Now, let’s say that your neighbor was walking past their doors as your drone crashed through, causing cuts and scrapes—some severe—from a combination of broken glass and spinning drone blades.
Again, because you were operating your drone for personal reasons and the loss was unforeseen and accidental, your insurance company would likely offer coverage.
Just keep in mind that if you’re injured by your own drone, this would not be covered, since homeowner’s insurance does not extend liability to household members. Instead, these costs would be picked up by your underlying health insurance.
Nuisance & Privacy-Related Liability
Like many modern drones, yours was equipped with a high-quality camera and several microphones. Your neighbor happened to be walking past their doors after a shower, so your drone’s camera recorded parts of their body they otherwise wouldn’t show to strangers.
Furthermore, your neighbor had recently complained to you about the constant noise from your drone, as you learned to fly the aircraft. It had even gotten to a point, they said, where they were thinking about filing a police report.
In these last two scenarios, whether or not your insurance company would extend liability coverage from your homeowner’s policy becomes much more opaque. While you might contend everything was accidental, unintentionality is difficult to prove legally, so your insurance company might be less willing to defend you.
What’s the Best Way to Learn More About Drone Coverage Under Your Homeowner’s Insurance?
As you can see from the different scenarios I explored above, whether or not your homeowner’s insurance would extend coverage in a drone-related claim depends on many different factors. These include your individual policy, along with the specifics surrounding the claim.
With these details in mind, if you have a detailed question about drone coverage, the team at IHS Insurance Group is here to help! Our decades of combined experience can provide actionable information that helps you make better insurance decisions.
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