It’s needless to say that insurance is a must-have if you’re flying commercially — not just because your drone likely costs tens of thousands but because insurance is a requirement to get clients in the first place.
But what if you have a hobby drone that you fly for personal use? What are your options and, more importantly, is drone insurance even something you need to consider?
This post is all about those questions and more.
I’ll be covering the basics to acquaint you with insurance-related terms and then moving on to examples of the top providers. You’ll also find country-specific advice toward the end of this post.
Let’s jump straight into the question you’re probably here for. Are there any (legal or non-legal) reasons to back your hobby drone with insurance? Take a look.
You do not legally need drone insurance for recreational use. However, it is recommended to consider a suitable insurance policy if you fly a drone that costs more than $300, regardless of the legalities.
Now, it’s important not to read the first sentence of the answer and get carried away. It’s true there are no legal requirements for hobby drone insurance (or for commercial drone insurance in the US).
But the risks you’ll be taking on are still (very) real — regardless of how safe you try to be.
Your drone may crash and require partial or complete replacement. What’s more, you’re subject to legal trouble! Two causes for that are third-party property damage and breach of privacy claims.
Different insurance policies minimize the amount of risk you take on. And since a lot of them are pretty cheap, it makes sense to invest in them even if you’re flying just for fun.
You may be wondering: what’s special about drones that particularly cost more than $300?
I used that price point because that’s where replacement costs start to ramp up. For an entry-level drone (think $200 or less), there’s not much value to be protected.
Similarly, if you strictly fly on your own property or are super confident in your ability and judgment, you might not need to buy insurance policies.
It’s pretty clear that buying drone insurance is the responsible thing to do. But before you start browsing through all of the different policies, you need to know what exactly they’re offering.
First up is liability insurance. Here’s what it means with regard to drones.
Drone liability insurance is the coverage that protects pilots from third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage. For example, these claims could be a result of your drone hurting a pedestrian or shattering a building’s window. Liability insurance also comes with different limits.
The limit of a liability insurance policy refers to the amount of protection. You’ll find $1,000,000 to be a common coverage limit, though lower and higher amounts are also available.
Now, as you may have figured out, drone insurance isn’t just about protecting your investment. It’s also about creating a safety net for damages that your operations may cause. And again, this applies to recreational use.
In fact, the repercussions of causing third-party damages can potentially be far greater than those of just losing your drone.
A liability insurance policy can cover compensation costs and legal expenses. This means a few hundred dollars can save you thousands!
Another thing worth noting is that liability insurance can also become a means of accessibility. If you’re someone who likes to dabble in commercial use with a hobby drone, you’ll need this type of insurance just to be able to shoot in certain locations.
This type of insurance is what generally comes to mind when you think of “drone insurance”. Here’s what drone hull insurance is.
Drone hull insurance is the coverage that protects the drone itself. Depending on the policy, this type of insurance can also cover equipment and payload damage. Some drone manufacturers, like DJI, offer their own hull insurance plans.
Again, getting hull insurance is only really suitable for owners of valuable drones.
You’re generally charged a deductible when you make an insurance claim. And that amount may end up being more than the replacement cost if you’re on an unsuitable plan for an entry-level drone.
The fact that pilots can activate a hull insurance plan directly through the manufacturer makes it super easy to get.
But if you’re looking to get a policy that’s ideal for you in particular, you can do so through drone insurance companies. The premium (what you pay for the policy) is calculated using the insured equipment’s value.
I recommend considering on-demand providers for hobby drone insurance. It would suit you as a recreational user as you’d be paying a pretty low price without having to negotiate the terms of a complete, annual plan (unlike working with insurance brokers).
A few reputable on-demand insurance companies in the US are SkyWatch, DroneInsurance.com, and Thimble. They offer different types of drone insurance through short-term plans.
The previous section mentioned a term that you may not be totally familiar with: on-demand drone insurance. What makes on-demand policies different from annual policies? Take a look.
On-demand drone insurance refers to the insurance model that allows customers to only pay for the time their drones are being operated. This can be by the hour, for example. On-demand policies are generally easy to buy and come with flexibility and a variation of prices.
I suspect you now understand where I was coming from when recommending on-demand insurance.
Drone hobbyists typically aren’t sure when and how long their next few flying sessions will be. And that’s exactly why on-demand drone insurance is ideal. You don’t end up negotiating and paying for unneeded coverage.
You may be wondering how one actually goes about buying on-demand drone insurance. So let’s look at an example.
As I mentioned before, Thimble is one of the top drone insurance companies. A drone owner can simply download their app (called Verifly), purchase a liability insurance policy, and get instant approval. That’s really all there is to it!
The app asks for the flight location (to analyze the amount of risk involved) and displays a real-time quote. But in general, Thimble’s prices start at $10 per hour.
You may be trying to figure out if your drone is already covered by a different policy — particularly house insurance. Perhaps you won’t need to invest in a drone insurance plan after all?
I did some research to help you with that question.
House insurance does cover drones, given that they are used recreationally. A drone is considered personal property, meaning it will be protected from damage by insurance perils like theft and fire. The liability coverage under house insurance may also protect you in the case of third-party damage.
It’s important to note that there really isn’t a fixed answer to this (though the part of commercial drones not being covered always remains constant).
A house insurance policy may particularly exclude drones from covered personal items. This is the main problem with depending on house insurance for drone insurance.
But at the same time, it’s also possible for a comprehensive house insurance policy to not only protect your drone in the case of burglary but also provide coverage for a liability incident where you’re being sued. The limit for this is usually $100,000.
You must check in with your house insurance company to ensure that you don’t have false expectations.
And if your policy does not cover your hobby aircraft (to an appropriate extent), I’d recommend buying separate drone insurance.
Some of you may have been looking out for this section in particular. And it makes complete sense — drone insurance may be tough to get if you’re on a tight budget.
Here’s a brief answer to how much drone insurance really costs.
It can cost around $10 hourly (or $700 annually) to insure a drone for $1 million in liability coverage. Additionally, hull coverage costs around 8-12% of the drone’s value. For an Air 2S, for example, you may have to pay another $100 to make $800 in total for both liability and hull coverage.
It goes without saying that these values are only meant to give you a ballpark idea of how much you’d be investing. In reality, there are many variables to how much an insurance company charges.
The biggest (and most obvious) one is your actual insurance policy. Opting for add-ons or higher limits will set you back more. And besides that, insurance providers can simply have different pricing models.
Other important variables include your experience as a drone pilot and your location. As a complete beginner, you may miss out on discounts.
It’s also worth noting that these variables can lead you to find cheaper insurance policies as well. For example, SkyWatch offers a base plan in Canada for just $264 per year! That’s pretty cost-effective for regular hobby drone flyers.
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into drone insurance costs, consider checking out this post where I made several comparisons and gave out some of my best tips.
We’ve already touched on laws and regulations related to drone insurance. However, that was done with the US in mind. Let’s now consider international laws.
First up, the UK.
You legally need insurance for your drone in the UK if you’re operating it for commercial gain. More specifically, you need public liability insurance as a minimum. However, insurance is not required if you’re only flying recreationally.
So laws in the UK and US are the same for what this post is focusing on: hobby drone insurance.
But even though hobby drones aren’t designed for commercial operation, you can technically use them for it (perhaps with modifications). And if you do, you will be required to get drone insurance, unlike in the US.
Your commercial drone insurance must also comply with EC 785/2004. This is why public liability insurance is the minimum.
A few of the best drone insurance providers in the UK are Drone Cover Club, Coverdrone, and Allianz.
Drone laws in Germany are known to be relatively strict. Here’s what my research told me about insurance requirements in particular.
You do, in fact, need liability insurance for your drone in Germany for all types of drone operations. If you’re using your drone commercially, the liability insurance must have a minimum limit of €1,000,000.
In other words, drone insurance is always required in Germany. This has been the case since 2005.
If you’re a drone operator in Germany who’s yet to get insurance, consider checking out the services of Coverdrone, Getsafe, or Versichertedrohne.de.
Drone laws in Canada are developed by Transport Canada. Here’s what the government department says about drone insurance requirements.
You do not legally need drone insurance in Canada. This goes for both recreational and commercial use. However, drone insurance is still a highly recommended investment to make.
Now, unlike in Germany, the current drone laws in Canada are a result of a somewhat recent change. The freedom of choice regarding drone insurance came into effect in 2019, to be particular.
Therefore, you may still find (outdated) information on the internet that tells you that drone insurance is a requirement in Canada.
It isn’t illegal to fly a drone in Thailand, but there are a few hurdles that you’ll need to jump over. You’ll most likely have to register with two agencies: the NBTC and the CAAT.
Keeping the registration processes of those two agencies in mind, here’s whether you need drone insurance in Thailand or not.
You legally need drone insurance in Thailand if your drone either has a camera or weighs more than 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds). This is because a copy of a drone insurance policy is one of the documents required to register with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).
The insurance also needs to have a minimum liability limit of ฿1,000,000.
If you’re a Thailand resident (or a Thailand visitor) looking to get your drone off the ground, I recommend checking out the CAAT website to get the full picture.
To wrap it all up, let’s take a final look at the kind of drone insurance you most likely need.
The kind of drone insurance you need depends on your operations, your local laws, and the amount of risk you’re willing to take on. In general, it’s a good idea to consider liability insurance and keep an eye out for good hull insurance plans potentially offered as add-ons by drone manufacturers.
The additional investment may feel pointless at times, but you’ll thank me (and yourself) if it’s actually called into action.
Plus, on-demand drone insurance really isn’t a bank-breaker for casual hobby drone flyers. So I recommend being smart and staying safe by betting on a drone insurance policy that fits you the best.