September 8, 2021

Drone Insurance Guide & Picking a Policy

Anna Keizer
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For all of you drone enthusiasts, drone insurance is kind of a necessity at this point. 

Not convinced? 

Consider this---between personal and commercial usage--- there are just under one million registered drones in the United States.

With so many people using drones, it’s high time we explore the question of "but do I really need drone insurance?"

As you'll see, many times, the answer will likely be yes.

But let’s get into some specifics.

First, what is personal drone insurance?

First of all, just like many other types of coverage, there isn’t just one catchall drone operator insurance. The type of insurance depends on what you intend to use your drone for---this typically breaks down to either personal usage or commercial usage.

Personal drone insurance can provide important protections for someone who just likes to record footage with their drone for non-professional reasons.

If you’re just having a bit of fun around your neighborhood, some people might ask, “do you really need drone insurance?” And well...yeah, you do. 

Here’s the thing. We don’t want to make assumptions on someone’s drone operator prowess, but if it’s not a skillset developed for professional purposes, you might have more reason to get drone insurance for recreational use---because just one clip of a neighbor’s tree or accidental run-in with their car can translate into costly repairs for the drone, car, or both. 

But what if you already have homeowner’s insurance? 

Great question.

Homeowner’s insurance can offer some protections---like if your home is burglarized and your drone is stolen. But given that your drone will likely be mostly used outside of your home and in spaces beyond the coverage area of your homeowner’s insurance policy, you’ll likely need drone liability insurance for it.

So yeah, personal drone insurance is a very real thing, and a good one at that.

What is commercial drone insurance?

Here we go. While important to encouraging folks to get drone insurance for recreational use, the rest of this article will focus on drone insurance for commercial use. 

Drone Insurance - Commercial Drone Insurance - Wrapbook
Wondering if you need insurance for a drone? Well, for commercial use, it might be a good idea.

Drones are quickly becoming a popular and sometimes requisite part of films, television shows, commercials,  which is why the question of “do you need drone insurance” is surfacing more and more in this professional space.

So, just like you would get commercial auto insurance or commercial liability insurance for a business, so too should you get commercial drone insurance for any drone usage that occurs specifically for your production or on behalf of your production company.

Legally, do you need drone insurance?

We’ve laid out the basics of personal drone insurance versus commercial drone insurance. But let’s address the elephant in the room…is it illegal to not have drone operator insurance? 

No. You are not legally required to purchase commercial drone insurance coverage or drone insurance for recreational purposes.

But before you close out this page!

Just because you aren’t breaking the law by not having personal drone coverage or drone insurance for commercial use doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it.

Consider the costs attached to any given project. Should something go wrong on a shoot, whether that’s injury to someone on set, damage to that set, or even damage to the drone itself, you could be liable for thousands of dollars in repairs, replacement, or hospital bills.

Drone insurance cost is a fraction of what you might be paying out-of-pocket for any one of these scenarios, so don’t put your luck to the test. Get drone insurance, especially for commercial use.

When don’t you need drone coverage?

Again, if you’re a professional who uses drones for commercial purposes, you really do need drone operator insurance, (we'll see later that, in some places, you won't even be able to shoot without it).

But… and that’s a big but… if your drone is cheap and you’re using it strictly on your own property, you might not need it. 

What are the different types of commercial drone insurance coverage?

Maybe you don’t need a ton of convincing to get drone insurance for commercial use. Maybe you just need to know what to purchase. We got you.

Let’s peel back another layer and explore some different kinds of commercial drone insurance. 

First up...

1. Drone liability insurance

Drone liability insurance is likely the type of drone coverage you'll need most of the time. Basically, it’s the coverage that protects against many of the scenarios we’ve already discussed like property damage or bodily injury to third parties during production.

Outside of the minimal drone insurance cost that you would pay for your coverage in comparison to covering uninsured damage or injury, the truth is that you might not even be able to shoot in certain areas without it.

Because drone usage is becoming so popular for shoots, many studios and other filming locations require drone liability insurance for anyone using their space.

If you don't have drone liability insurance, you may need to add your drone to your policy as if it were a stunt or hazardous activity, just to cover the risk of a lawsuit against your production stemming from the use of the drone.

And if you don’t own a drone and are just renting one for a production, you will certainly need drone liability insurance to rent it out.

Wrapbook offers two different types of drone insurance: owned and non-owned. This covers drones that you own, or drones that you hire out (like your production hiring a drone operator that doesn't have their own coverage).

2. Drone hull insurance

Drone hull insurance differs from drone liability insurance in that it is protection for the actual drone instead of the spaces and people around which it’s being operated. 

Now, some lower-end drones can sell for less than $100. But the majority of those purchases are for recreational use. If that’s the case, okay, perhaps you don’t need non-commercial drone insurance because you don’t care if your drone gets damaged.

But high-end, commercial-quality drones can go for thousands of dollars. In short, it’s an investment- just like your camera, lighting, and sound equipment purchases are. You wouldn’t dream of letting that equipment go unprotected, so why would you not get drone hull insurance for your drone? 

3. Drone warranty coverage

When renting higher-end equipment, most rental companies offer drone warranty coverage. So, now the question becomes do you need drone warranty coverage?

The answer is that it depends. 

If you already have drone hull insurance, likely most of the instances where you could benefit from drone warranty coverage are already covered under the drone insurance cost you pay for your hull policy. So in many cases, you can do without drone warranty coverage. 

But the best advice is to check your policy! And ask questions.

Drone Insurance - Mavic Air Drone Insurance - Wrapbook
If you purchase a high-end device like a Mavic Air, protect your investment with Mavic Air drone insurance.

If you have a high-end drone like a DJI and are being talked into getting DJI drone insurance coverage for warranty purposes, ask how it differs from the hull insurance you already have.

What does drone insurance cost?

Time to crunch those numbers. 

Keep in mind, that while the following info can definitely be useful for those of you curious about drone insurance cost for non-commercial drone insurance, we’re breaking down the factors that generally impact drone insurance cost for commercial coverage.

1. First consider the most obvious - the type of drone

Yep, let’s start here. It only makes sense that the more expensive your drone, the higher your drone insurance cost.

That’s not to say, though, that you should avoid purchasing or renting a high-end drone or coverage for a high-end model like DJI drone insurance simply because of the possible premium expense. 

Depending on the broker you use, you can find economic drone insurance cost options even if you have a drone worth thousands of dollars. 

2. Then determine what type of drone coverage

Are you getting drone liability insurance, drone hull insurance, drone warranty insurance, or maybe all three?

We’re always going to promote getting both drone liability insurance and drone hull insurance because they cover different circumstances that can arise with drone usage. 

But like we mentioned earlier, talk to your broker about the need for warranty insurance as well. Depending on how and how often you’re using your drone, as well as the limitations of your hull coverage, warranty coverage might not be a bad idea. 

3. Amount of drone liability insurance

The scope of your production or production company can impact your drone insurance cost.

If you normally oversee multi-million-dollar projects, you’ll likely need higher drone liability insurance limits, which can impact the premium fee. 

But just as the answer to “do you need insurance for a drone” is a resounding yes, you should always keep current with your liability risk.

Sure, you’ll save some money by downplaying this risk, but should a day come when your drone accidentally knocks out an electrical line that leaves thousands of people without power, you’re going to wish you hadn’t skimped on that coverage. 

4. Size of the drone coverage area

Drone operator insurance is not a one-size-fits-all for any region or state. The drone coverage area can impact your drone insurance cost.

When discussing your drone operator insurance needs with a broker, be forthcoming about the coverage area. Only then, can they calculate an accurate drone insurance cost---one that will provide the needed protection should something go wrong.

5. Timeframe of drone coverage

Do you head up a production company that regularly uses drones for your projects? Or are you working on a one-off project where a drone will be used for filming? 

Your answer will affect your drone insurance cost.

Annual drone operator insurance policies will, generally, cost more than commercial drone insurance coverage for a single project that may go for only a few days or weeks.

If you fall somewhere in the middle with the amount of drone work your productions entail in a given year, talk to your broker about whether short-term drone operator insurance or an annual policy will work better for your needs. 

To give you a ballpark number on what premium you might be looking at for a drone operator insurance annual policy, $500 is a common yearly rate. 

6. Proficiency of the drone operator

Ah, yes. We can’t overlook the impact that someone’s skillset – or lack thereof – might have on your commercial drone coverage.

After all, it only makes sense that an operator with relatively little experience will probably translate into a higher premium than someone who has clocked many hours and has extensive training in drone usage.

Drone Insurance - Proficiency of Drone Operator - Wrapbook
The answer to “do you need insurance for a drone” is a resounding yes when you’re working on a shoot.

Whether the operator is you or someone you’ve hired, some considerations that can affect your rate are:

  • Flight time hours.
  • Records of those hours.
  • Completion of a pilot training program.
  • An FAA drone pilot license.

Need to acquire a drone pilot license?

If you need to get a drone license from the FAA, visit their site.

What else to consider when buying commercial drone insurance coverage?

No one working in the drone operator insurance world expects you to be an expert on it.

But as much as you can, it’s a good idea to have some knowledge of drone liability insurance and drone hull insurance before talking to a professional about the insurance that’s right for you.

Try this - get your numbers in order

All of those factors we just discussed – type of coverage, size of coverage, timeframe of coverage – come to the table with this information. It’s the only way a broker can give you an accurate estimate of what you’ll need.

Talking to the right drone insurance broker

A broker should never make you feel inferior for not having the same comprehensive knowledge they do about insurance matters. So when you start talking to potential brokers, know that you have options.

If someone can’t be bothered to answer your questions – even the basics like do you even need this insurance – then move on to the next broker. 

Where can you buy commercial drone insurance?

Full disclosure: several insurance companies offer drone insurance for recreational and commercial purposes.

You can probably get that DJI drone insurance through the same company where you get your auto or homeowner’s insurance. Yes, there are options like Geico drone insurance and State Farm drone insurance, though generally, they cater more towards drone insurance for recreational purposes.

You can also get coverage through companies more focused on the drone space like Skywatch drone insurance.

Drone Insurance - Mavic Air - Buy Drone Insurance - Wrapbook
When the unexpected happens like an equipment accident, you’ll want to make sure you have coverage like Mavic Air drone insurance.

But the best drone insurance will always come by way of a broker who keenly understands the relationship between drone usage and the production world. 

Enter Wrapbook

Wrapbook’s brokers are not only well-versed on drone coverage, but also highly knowledgeable on the production space. Between the two, they can answer all your questions beginning with do you need drone insurance to make sure you get exactly what you need for your production work. No more, no less.

Wrapping Up

So do you need insurance for a drone? Yes. Especially for any drone usage carried out in the commercial work sphere.

But from there, the questions and answers to them can get progressively more complicated, which is where Wrapbook comes in. Get your personalized quote today or reach out to one of our brokers.

For more reading material,  check out our free ebook on production insurance, or take a skim through our guide on how to choose the right kind of policy for your next shoot.

Free eBook

Production Insurance: The Production Company Handbook

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At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Anna Keizer

Anna Keizer originally hails from the Chicagoland area. After receiving her B.A. in Film/Video from Columbia College Chicago, she moved to California and finished her M.A. in Film Studies from Chapman University. She has also graduated from UCLA’s Writing for Television Professional Program and is currently in post-production on the short She Had It Coming, which she wrote and is executive producing.

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