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Is insurance available for drones?

Drones are becoming more and more popular, not just for industries and businesses, but for personal use as well. Please note, the information found in this article is specific to Canadian residents.

What is a drone?

A drone is basically an unmanned aircraft, also known as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It can be operated remotely, or it can fly autonomously by an onboard computer. Drones used to be operated only by the military, but now they are used for all sorts of practical applications, such as search and rescue operations, monitoring traffic, fighting fires, and more.

Is it legal to own one?

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

  • If the drone weighs more than 35 kg, you need a Special Flight Operations Certificate.
  • If the drone weighs 35 kg or less, 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 put together a list of Safety Guidelines:

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 a drone?

If your drone is considered an “aircraft” your home insurance will not cover it. 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, your insurance will not cover it. Or if it injures another person and you are sued for their injuries, your home insurance will not be able to assist you in any way.

How can I protect myself?

Talk to your home insurance provider to see if coverage is available under your home insurance policy. As mentioned above, home insurance policies normally exclude any coverage relating to aircraft. 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. Not only could you be fined for improper use of a drone, but the cost, if you injure someone, will have to come directly out of your pocket!

Sources: Transport Canada

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