Drone Liability a Serious Threat to Your Assets
Some personal drone enthusiasts push the limits on how they use their drones, put people's lives in danger - and sometimes hamper public safety efforts during emergencies.
The problem of individuals flying their drones into disaster areas surfaced in 2017 during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The authorities had to issue warnings for drone operators to stay away from rescue areas after several close calls with rescue aircraft.
And during the 2018 fires in Northern California, the state had to call off firefighting-plane flights on more than 30 occasions because drones were illegally flying in the area.
If any of these drones were to cause an accident, the human and financial cost could be staggering. Likewise, if your teenaged son injures someone or causes property damage with his drone, the liability would likely fall squarely on you.
Even if you fly your drone responsibly, accidents can happen, injuring a third party or damaging their property. Often though, you won't need to buy a separate drone policy if you have homeowner's or renter's insurance.
What homeowner's covers
Besides covering your home and property against fire, leaks, theft and other risks, the standard homeowner's insurance policy also covers liability claims, like if you crash your drone through your neighbor's window.
There are two coverages that come into play:
If you crash your drone into your own living room window, since the drone is your personal property, you may file a claim against the drone and your insurance may pay you out for the damage, after deductibles. Insurers in this case would likely treat your drone like a remote control aircraft.
If your drone injures a third party, your homeowner's liability coverage would pay their medical bills. Be warned though, if the costs exceed your policy limits the injured party may sue you and you could be on the hook for further damages. The liability portion of the policy would, however, likely cover your legal fees.
Still, you may want to check your liability limits and talk to us to see if they are adequate. Often minimum liability limits in homeowner's policies may not be enough if someone is seriously injured or loses an eye. If you are regularly using your drone in areas where there are other people, you may want to consider increasing the coverage if you can.
Most homeowner's insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available and, increasingly, the Insurance Information Institute recommends that homeowners consider purchasing at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of liability coverage.
If you still feel like your liability coverage won't be enough and want to enjoy playing with your drone, anxiety-free, consider an umbrella policy.
Umbrella coverage gives you an additional layer of liability coverage for more serious incidents of injury or property damage to a third party. After all, medical and legal expenses can add up quickly and you likely don't have the cash lying around to cover any excess amounts above your homeowner's insurance policy limits.
Invest in this type of coverage if you want to protect your assets.
Umbrella coverage consists of bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. It will cover:
- Injured party's medical expenses
- Third party property damage
- Legal expenses if they sue you.
The coverage comes in increments of $1 million to $10 million or more. The premiums are affordable and range around a $300 or $400 a year for each $1 million in coverage.
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