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Drone insurance

Do you need drone insurance – and if so, what’s the right drone cover 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 drone operator, with details of the essential rules and regulations you should know about.

Do you need drone insurance – and if so, what’s the right drone cover 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 drone operator, with details of the essential rules and regulations you should know about.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Reviewed by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
2 OCTOBER 2023
9 min read
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When must you always have insurance for flying your drone or model aircraft?

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

You’ll need specific cover for your drone based on how you use it.

Hobby drone insurance in the UK

If your drone is under 20kg and just for fun, you’re not legally obliged to have insurance.

But although it’s not a legal requirement to have hobby drone insurance in the UK, enthusiasts recommend that hobby pilots have third-party public liability insurance for recreational drone flying.

This means that you could be financially protected by your drone cover if an unfortunate crash landing on someone’s home or car results in damage or injury.

Does home insurance include drone cover?

Your drone may be covered against being stolen or accidental damage by 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. But this won’t provide any cover for incidents while flying your drone. Standalone gadget insurance or specialist drone insurance can also cover your drone. 

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.

Commercial drone insurance

There are many commercial and business purposes for using a drone. These can be if you:

  • Are an estate agent
  • Are a photographer
  • Work for a travel company
  • Use a drone on your farm
  • Use a drone for deliveries
  • Use a drone for inspections.

In these cases, drone cover is a must-have as you’re classified as a commercial drone operator.

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, might be 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.

In addition, some drone flying clubs can offer insurance cover as part of your membership payment. 

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 could protect you against claims made by members of the public for damage or injury caused by your drone, plus the accompanying legal costs.

Here are some key areas to consider when looking for the best recreational drone insurance in the UK:

  • Cover for theft.
  • Accidental loss or damage – could cover the cost of repairing or replacing your drone if it’s damaged or destroyed.
  • Drone public liability insurance.
  • Personal accident, also known as personal injury insurance – could pay out if you have an accident while using your drone and suffer a serious injury or worse.
  • ‘New for old’ cover – your insurance provider could 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 and taking your drone with you.

What does commercial drone insurance include?

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 –

    which is compulsory if you fly your drone commercially. It should meet the CAA’s requirements so you’re covered against:

    • Acts of war

    • Terrorism

    • Hijacking

    • Acts of sabotage

    • Unlawful seizure of aircraft and civil commotion.

  • 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 – to protect employers against the cost of compensation claims if an employee injures themselves or becomes ill as a result of working for them. Check any existing employers’ liability policy to see 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.
  • 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. They will then refund the amount when you take out a full policy with them.

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 choose the right recreational drone insurance cover.

How much does hobby drone insurance cost in the UK?

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 potentially 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

Are drones dangerous?

A drone could be dangerous – for example, 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 the flight restriction zone of an airport.

To help you fly safely, take the 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 and gives you the chance to share your location with the wider drone community when you’re out flying.

Do I need to register my drone?

Yes, you must register before flying most drones or model aircraft outdoors in the UK. 

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 might 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.

Type of ID needed 
Flying weight  ID needed 
Flyer ID  Operator ID 
Below 250g – toy  No No
Below 250g – not a toy – no camera  No No
Below 250g – not a toy –with camera  No Yes
250g and above  Yes Yes

Your drone or model aircraft is likely to be a toy if: 

  • The manufacturer or store you bought it from describes it as a toy 
  • You bought it from a toy department or retailer 
  • It’s marked as suitable for below age 14 or a younger age group 
  • It was advertised or packaged to attract children.

 

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 key points on where to fly your drone:

  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 and follow any local byelaws about where you can and can’t fly.

  7. Don't endanger or disturb animals and wildlife. 

The code also provides guidance about how to make sure every flight is safe, from checking your equipment, to not flying if you’re under the influence of drink or drugs. 

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 with drone cover?

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.

Make sure you understand any limitations on the cover and consider if you need specialist insurance in addition.

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Anna McEntee - Insurance expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna

Rachel Lacey - Insurance and money expert

Rachel’s a self-confessed money nerd who’s been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She spent 17 years writing for Moneywise, including a few years as Editor, and likes making complicated subjects like insurance, pensions, investing and tax, easy for people to understand.

Learn more about Rachel

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