Is insurance available for drones?

Reviewed by Rena Novotny and Stefan Tirschler

Updated September 9, 2022

Drones are becoming more and more popular, not just for industries and businesses, but for personal use as well. In this article, we’ll cover insurance for drones, and how to operate them safely.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE – 4:27

Thumbnail of the How To Protect Your Drone video

What is a drone?

A drone is a small, unmanned aircraft, also known as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Drones can be operated remotely, or flown autonomously by an onboard computer. Drones used to be military vehicles, but now they’re available for all sorts of practical applications. Drones see use for search and rescue operations, monitoring traffic, fighting fires, and more.

In Canada, there are rules surrounding the ownership and operation of UAVs. Rightly so, as improper use can be dangerous and can put lives at risk. Transport Canada regulations state:

  • If the drone weighs more than 25 kg, you need a Special Flight Operations Certificate.
  • If the drone weighs between 250 grams and 25 kg, and is used for recreational purposes only, you’ll need to obtain a drone pilot certificate before you can even operate the drone.
  • If the drone weighs less than 250 grams and is used for recreational purposes only, you don’t need Transport Canada’s permission, but you do need to follow the law, and learn to fly your drone safely.

Transport Canada has a list of safety guidelines for drones:

Do:

  • Fly your drone during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).

  • Keep your drone in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone.

  • Make sure your drone is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example, are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?

  • Know if you need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

  • Respect the privacy of others – avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.

Don’t fly:

  • Closer than 9 km from any airport, heliport, or aerodrome.

  • Higher than 90 metres above the ground.

  • Closer than 150 metres from people, animals, buildings, structures, or vehicles.

  • In populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework shows.

  • Near moving vehicles, highways, bridges, busy streets or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.

  • Within restricted and controlled airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons, and forest fires.

  • Anywhere you may interfere with first responders.

Does my home insurance cover my drone?

Technically, drones are small aircraft, and most home insurance policies exclude aircraft from coverage. Which, by extension, means that drones are excluded from most home insurance policies’ coverage.

That means you have no coverage if your drone is lost, stolen, or damaged. However, an even more important consideration is that you have no insurance for liability. If your drone damages someone else’s property, most home insurance policies will not cover the damage. Or, if the drone injures another person and you are sued for their injuries, your home insurance will not be able to assist you in any way.

If you’re a Square One customer, certain small recreational drones are covered under your policy’s Personal Property and Personal Liability coverages. This coverage is always subject to the typical policy exclusions. You’re also required to operate the drone lawfully for coverage to apply.

How can I protect myself?

Talk to your home insurance provider to see if coverage for drones is available under your home insurance policy. As mentioned above, home insurance policies normally exclude any coverage relating to aircraft. Most home insurance providers are unwilling to insure drones, but some—including Square One—are now able to provide coverage for certain types of small, pleasure-use only drones.

If you can’t find coverage on your home insurance policy, or if your drone is used for purposes other than personal pleasure, then you may want to contact a commercial insurance broker. Policies are being developed to protect commercial users, so in time, there may be a product available for recreational users as well.

Think carefully before giving someone a drone as a birthday or Christmas gift. Make sure to follow the guidelines put in place by Transport Canada. And, remember to ask your home insurance provider about coverage for your drone.

Source: Transport Canada

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About the expert: Rena Novotny

Rena's 23-year career started as an independent adjuster where she specialized in complex property, liability and special risk loss. As a branch manager, Rena hired, trained, mentored and coached several adjusters. She continues part-time post-graduate studies in neuro-psychology and traumatization, learning how both may impact the insured's engagement on catastrophic claims. Rena has a MA (Conflict Analysis and Management), CRM, CIP, and holds a level 3 adjusting license.

About the expert: Stefan Tirschler

Stefan is responsible for underwriting leadership, market expansion, and product research and development for Square One's operations. Stefan has earned his Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional designation, and maintains a level 2 general insurance license in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Stefan is also an Education Committee member and CIP/GIE instructor for the Insurance Institute of Canada.

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