With nearly a third of all drones purchased last year valued at over $2,000, insurance is a must. Liability is another important consideration because accidents happen. Drones are no longer just inexpensive novelties; some are miniature high-tech marvels and you’ll want the best drone insurance before you get airborne.
Quick Look: The Best Drone Insurance
- Avion Drone Insurance
- United States Aircraft Insurance Group
What Drone Insurance Covers
Some drone hobbyists use their home insurance policy or a personal articles policy to provide coverage for their drone. There are some holes in this strategy, so you’ll probably want a dedicated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) insurance policy that covers the way you use your drone. The types of coverage you need may vary depending on whether you use your drone for personal use or for business use.
Be aware that a personal insurance policy will not cover business use of your drone. The deductible on a home insurance policy also makes a home policy less effective coverage for damage to your drone or lost drones.
In many cases, you’ll have to cover the first $1,000 of the loss — or more, depending on the deductible for your policy. There may also be a dollar limit for per-item coverage, which can be an issue for more valuable drones.
Types of drone coverage available:
Damage to the drone itself — but not its accessories — is provided through hull damage coverage. Some policies refer to this as physical damage coverage. Be sure to read the fine print regarding what’s covered and what isn’t. Much like other types of vehicle insurance, customizations and accessories may not be covered.
Many drones cost over $1,000, so theft can be a concern. A stolen drone could mean downtime and lost revenue for a business. Theft coverage can help you get back to business quickly.
Loss or Flyaway Coverage
A gust of wind, malfunctioning hardware or simple pilot error can lead to a lost drone. Finding your drone in these cases can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Flyaway coverage is a comforting coverage to have.
The specialized equipment not covered by hull damage coverage may be covered by payload coverage. If you have specialized cameras or other accessories attached to your drone, consider this coverage.
While damage claims for the drone itself are more common, liability is the largest potential financial risk for drone operators. If your drone damages the property of others or injures someone, liability coverage can come to the rescue.
Another consideration is lawsuits due to an invasion of privacy. Even if unintentional, these types of lawsuits can be expensive to defend. Some insurers cover this under a separate coverage called personal injury coverage.
Personal Injury Coverage
Personal injury is often confused with bodily injury, but personal injury refers to libel, slander, defamation, copyright infringement and invasion of privacy, the last of which is the primary concern for drone pilots.
Ground Equipment Coverage
Dedicated ground equipment can often be added to a drone insurance policy, providing protection for laptops, controllers, ground stations, tablets and more.
There may be times, particularly in business applications, when you need to lease a specialized drone or hire one for a limited time. Non-owned coverage helps protect you financially if the drone you’re using is not your own.
If you’re using your drone for business, you’ll want a policy with higher liability limits with your company listed on the policy as the named insured. Commercial clients will probably require a certificate of insurance and may even need to be added to the policy as an additional insured party or certificate holder. This may rule out companies that are geared toward personal insurance as opposed to business insurance.
Average Cost of Drone Insurance
The premiums for nearly all types of insurance are based on the insured value and the risk of a loss. This makes more expensive drones costlier to insure as well. The costs for drone insurance can range from about $60 a year for a personal articles policy up into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The coverages you choose also play a role. You can increase the cost of insurance as you add coverages for additional risks.
Some insurers now also offer use-based coverage activated through a mobile device running Android, iOS, or a web app, where you can purchase insurance on an hourly basis. For hourly coverage, you can expect to pay about $10 per hour. Some of these plans can be converted to a monthly plan and offer discounts based on your claims history and flight safety data, possibly leading to a monthly cost of less than $35 with $1 million in liability coverage.
For annual policies with average coverages, expect to pay about $750. For business applications where a higher liability coverage is desired or required by contract, expect to pay about $2,000 annually for $5 million in liability coverage.
What to Look for with Drone Insurance
You’ll want to customize coverage to your needs or choose a pre-packaged solution that meets your coverage needs. Liability coverage is potentially the largest risk to drone pilots and businesses that use drones because claims can reach into the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars — or higher.
Flexible liability coverage: It’s easy to be underinsured or overinsured with the default liability coverage limits. You’ll also want to consider whether you only need coverage for bodily injury and property damage liability or if you want personal injury liability coverage as well. A lawsuit for invasion of privacy can be expensive to defend, even if you didn’t invade anyone’s privacy intentionally or at all.
Coverage for hull and payload or accessories: Find out what’s covered. In some cases, the accessories can be worth as much as the drone itself.
Online policy management: Managing your policy online is much easier than waiting on hold or visiting a local agency office.
Affordability: For less expensive drones or for non-business use, affordability is key. It’s possible to spend more on insurance than the drone is worth. Choose carefully, but make sure you consider liability risks.
Some drone insurance coverage considerations are better described as yellow flags than red flags. Exercise caution and read the fine print before making a purchase commitment.
Overpriced hull coverage: Drone makers DJI and GoPro have affordable repair services or protection plans. In some cases, these could replace the cost of hull coverage for some drones.
Lack of coverage options: For business applications in particular, some policy offerings may be too sparse and may sidestep important coverages like ground equipment, accessories or liability coverages that can be costly risks to your business.
High deductibles: The deductible is the part of the claim you pay. For physical damage or loss claims, the insurer deducts the deductible amount from the claim payout, reducing your payout or even eliminating the payout altogether for smaller claims.
Training requirements: While not necessarily a red flag, be aware that pricing or coverage may be contingent on training and that some insurers may only accept certain certifications. This requirement can add to the cost of insurance.
No coverage for personal injury: Drones crashing or falling out of the sky are a concern, but so is a drone that comes a bit too close to someone’s property for their comfort. You’ll want coverage that can protect you in court, and your home insurance probably won’t be much help because it covers a different type of liability.
Our Picks for the Best Best Drone Insurance Companies
A rising star in the drone insurance business, Skywatch provides coverage options ranging from $500,000 up to $10 million for liability and offers flight duration coverage periods from 1 hour up to 8 hours.
Rates begin at $5 per hour depending on your Safety Score and insurance experience. Local flying conditions and known hazards are also considered with premiums. Rates can increase based on your coverage selections and coverage limits. Hull coverage is available as a monthly purchase at 0.58% of the declared value per month.
Telemetry data from DJI drones can be used to provide safety insights and reward safer flying with better rates. A monthly subscription designed for frequent flyers provides more ways to save.
Skywatch doesn’t have a deductible for liability coverage, which is common with most types of liability insurance. For hull coverage, which covers damage to the drone itself, expect to pay a deductible equal to 14% of the drone’s declared value.
Apps are available for Android and iOS, making on-demand coverage with Skywatch a breeze.
Different from Skywatch’s focus on hourly coverage, Droneinsurance.com provides on-demand coverage by the day, but with longer coverage durations available.
A monthly base coverage priced at $7 for liability protection and $10 with physical damage protection serves as the base policy when your drone is not in the air. Deductibles for physical damage claims are set at 5% of the insured value. Liability claims do not have a deductible.
From there, you can build a policy customized to your needs, with additional drones and liability protection beginning at $1 million in coverage.
Adding additional insured parties is easy to do online and allows business operators to cover gigs quickly. Coverage is available for equipment, sensors and other add-ons as well. Droneinsurance.com’s insurance can also be integrated with the popular AirMap for Drones iOS and Android Apps.
A definite plus, Droneinsurance.com’s liability protection provides coverage for invasion of privacy lawsuits, a coverage that usually isn’t available with home insurance policies and which may not be covered by other drone insurance providers.
With a focus on on-demand small business coverage, Verifly.com is the go-to insurer for many in the gig economy. The company boasts fast policy approval and the ability to quickly add additional insureds or share insurance certificates.
You can purchase business liability insurance with Verifly.com as needed, whether by the hour or by the year. Choose from 1-hour, 4-hour or eight-hour flight sessions for drone insurance. However, coverage is limited to liability, meaning there is no coverage for your drone or other related equipment.
Policy coverage limits start at $1 million for an affordable $10, perfect for quick gigs and without the long-term commitment.
Coverage for invasion of privacy claims is provided up to $10,000 and coverage for bodily injury or damage to the property of others is available for up to $10 million for drones under 35 pounds.
Avion Drone Insurance
Well known in the aviation community for insuring planes and helicopters, Avion also provides liability coverage for UAV professionals and drone enthusiasts.
Coverage isn’t limited to liability.
nboard components, hull, gimbal, cameras
While coverage isn’t available on demand, Avion’s knowledgeable team prides itself on matching drone operators with the right type of coverage at the right price.
This is a task some other insurers leave consumers to figure out on their own.
United States Aircraft Insurance Group
Geared toward the commercial unmanned aircraft market, United States Aircraft Insurance Group (USAIG) provides a specialized set of coverage options that can meet the needs of more demanding businesses with specialized equipment.
Worldwide coverage and physical damage coverage is available for drones, payload or cameras, sensors, ground equipment and more.
Liability coverage options abound as well, with options for premises liability, personal injury (including invasion of privacy), war liability, Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) coverage
To be clear, USAIG isn’t designed for casual hobbyists, but rather larger enterprises and licensed UAS operators that need specialized coverage for a unique set of risks.
Choosing the Best Drone Insurance
Drone uses range from sunny-day adventures to photography gigs to military or industrial applications. The coverages required for this range can be just as varied. For casual use, consider a provider that offers on-demand coverage to better match the cost of coverage to your use.
However, be aware of higher deductibles or missing coverages like hull damage or equipment coverage. While a popular solution in the past, your home insurance policy isn’t the best insurance solution for your drone anymore.