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One of your jobs as a drone pilot is to manage risk.
And with proper training and lots (and lots and lots) of mission-specific practice and field exercises, you’ll learn how to safely fly your drone.
But at the end of the day, despite how proficient you are as a pilot, and despite the fact that you’ve made all best practice attempts to manage risk — for example, using a visual observer, securing appropriate airspace authorizations, building and following a pre-flight checklist, etc. — the unfortunate reality is that accidents can still happen.
Drone insurance isn’t a good fit for everyone.
If you’re simply flying a toy drone (less than $300 USD) for fun in your backyard or at a local model aircraft field, you might not necessarily need to purchase a $1 million liability drone insurance policy!
But if you’re conducting business, flying on behalf of your company, or flying for some other kind of non-recreational purpose where another stakeholder might be involved, buying drone insurance is a smart move.
In our step-by-step guide to drone insurance, we’ll cover:
Scroll down this page or use the Table of Contents to navigate each of the chapters.
Let’s get started!
Interestingly enough — if you live in Minnesota, there are specific insurance requirements based on aircraft. More information about state-by-state drone laws in our drone law directory.
Of course, even if insurance isn’t required by law, there are some other considerations.
In some instances, you might need a minimum level of insurance coverage to take on a project, whether it’s needing to secure a city film permit, or working with a larger company that requires insurance for each of its vendors.
And as we mentioned in our introduction, if you’re flying a drone for any kind of non-recreational purpose, you might want to think about reducing your liability exposure.
Buying drone insurance doesn’t cost much and offers all kinds of peace-of-mind!
The two most common types of drone insurance are:
You can think about liability insurance like you would with typical car insurance — the policy protects you from third-party claims of property damage or injury, like accidentally crashing your drone into a building, someone else’s car, or an even more unfortunate incident where you’re getting sued to cover someone else’s medical costs.
Of course, there are varying degrees of liability insurance, so make sure to consult your specific policy’s fine print to see if things like negligence or privacy infringement claims would be covered.
With a liability drone insurance policy, limits typically start at $500,000 and usually can be negotiated to as high as is required by the business and its operations or clients — limits as high as $10,000,000 per occurrence are not unheard of in UAS insurance.
Generally, the next coverage to consider after liability is “hull” coverage.
This is where you’re insuring the actual drone.
If you’re flying a DJI camera drone, you might want to consider getting this kind of coverage directly through them. At the moment, they offer three different plans:
If you’re needing hull coverage for a more professional drone system, check with the manufacturer to see if they have their own coverage, or you can also consult with any of the drone insurance brokers mentioned later in this guide.
While liability and hull insurance are the two most common types of sUAS insurance, you might also want to consider payload insurance — are you carrying an expensive thermal, multispectral or cinematography camera and gimbal system?
And there’s also your ground equipment, like dedicated ground stations, laptops, tablets, UAV cases, remote controllers, etc. That can all be insured. And there may be other considerations like non-owned coverage or personal injury coverage.
Please consult the previous chapter to better understand the different types of insurance available.
Liability insurance through an on-demand provider like SkyWatch can run as little as $5 / hour for $1 million in coverage. You can also pay by the month or year.
And if you’re working with a broker to put together a more comprehensive or custom policy, drone liability insurance can begin to cost up to $600-$800 per year.
Of course, you’ll need a unique quote from an insurance company to know exactly how much you will be covered and what it will cost. Each company structures their policies a little differently. Some include hull insurance, others do not. Do your due diligence and chat with a number of companies before moving forward.
For hull coverage, where you’re insuring the drone itself, a DJI Care Refresh plan for a DJI Mavic 2 Pro starts at $159 per year.
Most U.S. drone pilots use an on-demand insurance company like SkyWatch to purchase liability insurance for as little as $5/hr.
You simply download their app, set up your account, and plug in your flight location and mission parameters to see what the rate would be, and then you can buy the insurance directly through the app without needing to speak to a broker.
Of course, there are a handful of drone insurance companies that can put together more custom quotes. As an example, we needed a custom quote for our hands-on drone flight training classes and worked with one of the below companies to develop the policy.
Here’s some information you’ll want to have ready if you reach out to a drone insurance broker:
Check out this form from Aviation Insurance to see what information a company might ask you for in the consultation stage.
In alphabetical order, here’s a list of drone insurance companies that can help you find the best sUAS insurance policy for you and your company. This list is particular to the United States, and some of the companies listed are very specific to the drone industry, while others offer more diverse business products to their clients.
Not ready to work with an insurance broker to negotiate an annual policy? Check out these companies that offer on-demand insurance where you pay by the hour, day or month. A lower-cost alternative for folks just starting out and not necessarily knowing how often they’ll be flying, and if an annual policy makes sense.
If you’d rather put together a plan with a drone insurance specialist, where you’re working together to understand what needs to be covered and negotiating an annual premium, check out any of the below companies:
The team over at ArcadiaSky maintains a separate list of insurance providers outside of the U.S., particularly drone insurance in Australia and in the U.K.
Can you lose your insurance?
Yep, here’s a few reasons why you might get dropped from your provider. Every provider has its own exclusions, and it’s important to understand what they are.
Here are a few we’ve come across: