Drone Use Poses Insurance Questions

Currently, there are about 880,000 drones weighing at least half a pound each that are authorized to roam America’s skies. The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drones, predicts that by 2020, as many as 7 million of these unmanned aerial vehicles, will be flitting around. A large percentage of drones are used in the real estate and photography industries. However, by 2021, the projected number of hobbyist drones in use is expected to reach 3.5 million.

What will happen if a drone falls from the sky and hits your vehicle? Last year, a nurse in Sydney, Australia, was driving across the landmark Sydney Harbor Bridge when a drone struck his vehicle and smashed into pieces. His vehicle sustained dents and scratches and because the owner of the drone was never found, the nurse was stuck paying a $1,000 insurance deductible to fix the damage.

In the U.S., insurance coverage for a drone striking your car depends on whether the owner of the drone is known, said Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations at Insurance Information Institute.

She said generally, if a drone drops out of the sky, damages your vehicle and the owner of the drone isn’t found, the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance will cover the damage, after you pay the required deductible first.

Perhaps you get lucky and you know who owns the drone that strikes your vehicle. You may file a claim with your auto insurer and your insurer will try to recover money from the done owner’s homeowners or renters insurance company.

If you own a drone, you should check with your insurance company to see what coverage you need in case your drone takes a dive. Worters said there are two insurance matters to worry about: property damage inflicted by a drone and legal liability if a drone injures someone.

Most standard homeowners and renters insurance policies exclude liability coverage for aircraft, but do include coverage for “model” or “hobby” aircraft, like a personal drone. Typically, homeowners or renters insurance taken out by a drone owner covers personal injury, damage to public or private property and medical expenses.

A quick piece of advice: If you get a drone, verify your insurance coverage before you fly it.