Have a New Drone? Understand Your Liability Risks

AFTER ANOTHER Christmas, more American homes now include a new addition: a drone. While these gadgets can be loads of fun to fly, they also come with responsibility and risk of property damage and bodily injury.

As people start flying drones, there will be accidents and injuries, followed by claims – and even lawsuits.

If you are like most people, you were not thinking about insurance when you purchased a drone for your kid. But you’ll want to make sure you are properly covered for any accidents, particularly if the victim is a third party.

The liability protection in homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies will sometimes cover damage or injury from a drone crashing into a neighbor’s house, vehicle or child. Yet, this coverage isn’t universal and some policies specifically carry an aviation exclusion that encompasses recreational drones, which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently classifies as small aircraft.

While your homeowner’s policy would likely cover damage if your drone crashed into a neighbor’s car, your policy would not cover damage to your own property.

Insurers view drone mishaps as akin to having your mastiff destroying your neighbor’s shrubbery, but not your own. In other words, they’d cover the damage to your neighbor, but not to your own stuff.

If you are uncertain about your policy covering drone liability, please call us and we can check it for you.

In the likely case that it won’t be covered, you can buy drone insurance through individual liability coverage, via us.

Other issues Liability coverage for physical damage isn’t the only kind of coverage you might need.

Insurance lawyers foresee a rise in invasion of privacy claims, which falls under personal injury. If your drone accidentally captures images of a neighbor, and that neighbor feels you have violated his or her privacy, you could be sued.

An umbrella policy or the personal injury section of homeowner’s insurance could protect you in this case.

But if the invasion of privacy was intentional, like posting photos of your neighbor in a compromising position online, the insurer would not cover the claim.

Drone registry Beyond insurers, regulators also are preparing for how to manage increased drone flying. As of Dec. 21, 2015, owners of small drones weighing half a pound to 55 pounds, must register the machines with the FAA.

Drone Registration Rules
• Registration is mandatory.
• If you already own a drone, you have until February 19, 2016 to register.
• You must register before your first flight.
• Users must be at least 13 years old to register online.
• The registration fee is $5, which is good for three years.
• Currently you can only register on the FAA website: www.faa.gov/uas/registration/
• This registration process only applies to hobby and recreational use. Business use rules are still forthcoming.

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