Drone insurance

Do you need drone insurance – and if so, what’s the right policy for you? This guide will help you decide, whether you use your drone for business or just for fun. We’ll also help you become a safer flyer with details of the essential rules and regulations you should know about.

Do you need drone insurance – and if so, what’s the right policy for you? This guide will help you decide, whether you use your drone for business or just for fun. We’ll also help you become a safer flyer with details of the essential rules and regulations you should know about.

Chris King
From the Home team
4
minute read
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Posted 1 JUNE 2021

When you think of drones, you probably focus on the amazing aerial photography they provide – but they’re capable of so much more. From delivering emergency supplies to monitoring livestock, these unmanned flying machines are having a big impact on our lives. In fact, it’s predicted that the UK drone industry could be worth £42 billion by 2030.

If you have a drone – or are thinking about buying one – here’s what you need to know about insurance and the regulations that may apply to you.

Do I need insurance for my drone? 

If your drone or model aircraft is 20kg or more, you must have third party insurance, no matter what you use your aircraft for.

If your drone’s under 20kg and just for fun, you’re not legally obliged to have insurance. When it comes to recreational use, drone insurance is optional – although an unfortunate crash landing on someone’s home or car while you’re behind the controls means you’re responsible for any resulting damage or injury. It could be worth considering third party insurance to protect yourself, just in case.

Your drone may be covered against being stolen or damaged by a flood or fire under your home insurance. You might also be able to cover it against theft or loss while you’re out with it by adding personal possessions cover to your home insurance.

Or you can get separate gadget insurance or specialist drone insurance – unfortunately, you can’t compare either of these types of insurance with us. If you’re considering gadget insurance, make sure you read the small print as drones can be excluded.

If you’re using your drone for commercial or business purposes – for example, if you’re an estate agent, photographer, work for a travel company or use a drone on your farm – insurance is a must-have.

The best solution for hobbyists as well as commercial users may be a specialist drone insurance policy – and this needs to be fully compliant with EC785/2004 regulations. These are the rules laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the body responsible for the regulation of aviation safety in the UK. It also keeps a careful eye on drone use.

What’s the best drone insurance for me?

Whether you’re using your drone for business or pleasure, you have a choice of two main policy types:

  1. A traditional annual policy usually split into monthly payments. This is a popular choice for commercial pilots who use their drones on a regular basis.
  2. A pay-as-you-fly (PAFL) policy. This protects your drone only while you’re using it and, therefore, often works out cheaper. It may include cover per flight or over a period of time, for example per hour, per day or per week. This is usually a good option for occasional flyers or if you’re planning a holiday somewhere scenic and fancy taking some great aerial photographs.

What does drone insurance cover?

For both recreational and commercial users, your drone insurance policy must include personal/public liability cover. This is compulsory under the CAA’s regulations. It protects you against claims made by members of the public for damage or injury caused by your drone, plus the accompanying legal costs.

If you’re a recreational drone user, you may also want a policy that includes:

  • Cover for theft.
  • Accidental loss or damage – covers the cost of repairing or replacing your drone if it’s damaged or destroyed.
  • Personal accident, also known as personal injury insurance – pays out if you have an accident while using your drone and suffer a serious injury or worse.
  • ‘New for old’ cover – your insurance provider will pay for a brand new, like-for-like replacement if your drone is lost, stolen or damaged beyond repair.
  • Travel cover. If you’re travelling, on holiday for example, and taking your drone with you.

If you use your drone for work, you may also want to check potential policies to see if they cover the following, depending on your needs:

  • Aviation liability insurance – meets the CAA’s requirements that you’re covered against ‘acts of war, terrorism, hijacking, acts of sabotage, unlawful seizure of aircraft and civil commotion’. This is compulsory if you fly your drone commercially.
  • Equipment cover – for both in-flight and out-of-flight equipment, payload and spares.
  • Hired-in equipment cover – protects equipment not owned by you that you’ve hired in.
  • Cyber cover against the drone being hacked.
  • Replacement drone hire.
  • Transit cover – while your drone is being moved.
  • Night flying.
  • Legal expenses.
  • Employers’ liability – designed to protect employers against the cost of compensation claims, if an employee injures themselves or becomes ill as a result of working for them. If you have an existing employers’ liability policy, check how this would cover you for drone use.
  • Professional indemnity insurance – allows you to recover losses from compensation claims made against you in certain circumstances. Again, if you have an existing policy, check if this would cover your needs.
  • Business travel insurance may be needed for the operator, in addition to any transit cover for the drone, if not included in the drone policy.

Some specialist providers will also offer short-term policies while you undertake the necessary CAA training and flight assessment, then refund the amount or discount an annual policy by the cost of the temporary training policy.

When you’re choosing commercial drone insurance, it’s also worth thinking about:

  • The number of drones you want to cover
  • The flying hours you expect to do
  • How many operators and pilots need to be included in the cover
  • Where in the world you’ll be flying.

For both recreational and commercial drone users, read the small print to make sure you select the cover you need.

How much does drone insurance cost?

It depends. If you’re an occasional recreational user, it could be cheaper than for a commercial operation using their drones regularly. It’s worth shopping around for a policy that gives you the cover you want, at a price that suits your pocket.

And if you’re not happy with the quotes you get, one way to reduce costs is to join a flying club that includes insurance as part of its annual membership fee.

Did you know?

Drone is a term used to describe aircraft that fly without a pilot on-board. But drones can also be referred to as:

UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

UAS - Unmanned Aircraft System

RPAS - Remotely Piloted Aircraft System

SUA - Small Unmanned Aircraft

What are the dangers of flying a drone?

Your drone may be small, but it can have a big impact if it hits the windscreen of an aircraft or gets caught up in the blades of a helicopter mid-flight.

With this in mind, UK law restricts all drones from flying above 400 feet and within one kilometre of airport boundaries.

To help you fly safely, take the CAA-approved courses to develop your flying skills. And with safety in mind, consider using Drone Assist or an equivalent app. Drone Assist is a drone safety app from NATS, the UK’s main air traffic control experts. When you use it, you can see an interactive map of airspace used by commercial air traffic so you can check areas to avoid or those where you’ll need to use caution when flying your drone. The app also identifies ground hazards that may pose safety, security or privacy risks and gives you the chance to share your location with the wider drone community when you’re out flying.

What kind of drone do you have? 

A ranking system has been introduced that divides drones into different classes, from C0 to C4. However, if your drone doesn’t have a class marked on it, then it’s the weight that matters.

Depending on the class/weight of your drone, you may need to register for one or two forms of specialist ID to fly it legally. If you don’t have the necessary IDs and want to make an insurance claim, your provider may refuse to pay out.

The two forms of ID that may apply are:

  • The Operator ID, which is registered to the person responsible for the drone and who flies it.
  • The Flyer ID, which you get by passing the CAA’s official theory test.

For under 18s, a parent or guardian can register for the Operator ID instead, although the child may need to get their own Flyer ID.

You don’t need ID if your drone:

  • doesn’t have a camera and is less than 250g
  • is a C0 model and sold as a toy or without a camera

You need an Operator ID if:

  • You have a C0-class drone with a camera

You need both an Operator ID and Flyer ID if your drone is:

  • Heavier than 250g
  • Belongs to classes C1 to C4

What is the Drone code?

For practical advice on becoming a safer drone pilot, the Drone Code is your one-stop shop.

Here’s a summary of six of the key points:

  1. Make sure you can always see your drone without needing binoculars or any other viewing equipment. This is known as keeping a visual line of sight.
  2. Never fly it above 120 metres (400 feet).
  3. Keep it at least 50m away from people, including people in buildings, cars or boats.
  4. Never fly your drone over people, particularly crowds.
  5. Keep at least 150 metres away from residential, recreational, commercial and industrial areas.
  6. Avoid airports, airfields and aircraft.

If you want to fly outside the rules of the code, you’ll need special authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Where can I find home insurance that covers drones?

Although we don’t compare specialist drone insurance at Compare the Market, you might be able to find a home insurance policy that will cover your drone when you compare with us. Check to see if there are any limitations on the cover and consider if you need specialist insurance in addition.

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