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CA Department of Insurance

Drones top holiday wish lists and bring pilot responsibility

News: 2015 Press Release

For Release: December 26, 2015
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Drones top holiday wish lists and bring pilot responsibility
What you should know about drone insurance before you fly

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - According to estimates by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), more than one million drones were sold this holiday season, but as drone use soars, so does the pilot's financial liability and risk. Whether for personal or commercial use, being a drone pilot comes with responsibility and potential liability. There are a number of critical insurance issues to consider ranging from personal injury and property damage to privacy concerns.

As the skies become increasingly crowded with drones, some weighing up to 55 pounds, the potential for accidents and injuries also increases. A fall from the sky can cause significant damage to property or bystanders, for which the drone owner could be financially responsible. A number of high-profile drone crashes and near misses illustrate the danger, including a drone crash that just missed a skier when it crashed during the recent World Cup in Italy and another in Pasadena, California that struck a one-year-old child in the head leaving a gash that required medical attention. 

"Every drone pilot should check with their insurance agent before they lift off," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Drone hobbyists share the same level of responsibility as manned aircraft pilots to fly safely and make sure they're covered if their drone causes property damage or bodily injury."

These advances in technology and in drone use are what define American innovation, but they also present a number of challenges. Traditional insurance policies may not provide coverage when something goes wrong and you may be financially liable.

What aviators should know about insurance:

  1. Using a private drone as a hobby is generally covered under a homeowner or renter insurance policy, which typically covers radio-controlled model aircraft, but you should review the contents section of your policy, or talk to your agent to see if your drone is covered if it is lost, stolen or damaged.
  2. If your drone falls onto your car, damage to your car may be covered if you have a comprehensive coverage auto policy.
  3. If your drone crashes into someone else's vehicle or injures someone, you are responsible for the accident. Your homeowner or renter insurance will likely cover liability for an accident caused by your drone, but you should first check with your agent or insurer to verify your policy contains this important coverage.

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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