Drones are here to stay – whether it’s more than 1 200 of them providing a mind-blowing display at the recent opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, for commercial purposes such as movie making, mapping or anti-poaching operations, or purely for leisure.
These increasingly popular unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or “remotely piloted aircraft”, can cost from hundreds to tens of thousands of rands. If you’re the owner – or aspiring owner – of a shiny new drone, how do you make sure it is adequately protected?
Insurance options …
– As a recreational drone owner, you should be able to insure your UAV under your regular household contents cover. You may have to specify it and provide your broker with the serial number as proof of ownership for cover away from home. However, protection is excluded while your drone is in use – in other words damage to the drone while in flight, as well as, liability for injury or damages to third parties.
– As a trained, licenced and registered owner, you will be eligible for specialised cover available for commercial operators. This will include cover while in use, liability insurance and cover for the drone and its attachments. Consult your broker to get more detail on the specialist cover available.
Why do it?
Statistics show that recreational drone use leads to a significantly higher percentage of damage claims than commercial operations.
As a licenced drone pilot, you have the knowledge, training and skills to operate a drone safely and therefore fall into a different risk profile than an unlicensed pilot, making you eligible for comprehensive specialised drone cover.
Illegal drone operations can lead to a R50 000 fine or 10 years imprisonment.
Bear in mind ...
● The Protection of Personal Information Act, the South African Constitution and other legislation protect data and people’s privacy – inform yourself and follow the law. For instance, using a drone to film events such as school galas, where children can be identified, may be illegal.
● You cannot launch or land your drone on a beach packed with people, as SACAA regulations prohibit flying your drone within 50m from a person or building without permission, or more than 400 feet from ground level.
● You won’t be able to fly your drone while on holiday in the Kruger National Park, as no-drone zones include national and private game parks, areas near airports, national key points, courts and other strategic buildings or plants.
● Gated estates increasingly have guidelines for drone use – you may need permission from your body corporate to operate one in your estate even though it is in your own backyard.
● Be aware of civil aviation rules, safety regulations and municipal bylaws.
● Local noise bylaws in neighbourhoods may mean you are not allowed to fly your drone at certain times.
● It is a legal requirement that you comply with safety regulations to ensure the drone and its propellers don’t harm people, buildings or animals.
What does specialist drone cover include?
Consult your broker for full details, but tailored insurance for a registered drone operated by a qualified pilot may include cover for:
● Loss, damage and liability related to the drone itself
● Aviation liability
● The hull (without cameras, gimbals and sensors)
● The payload/equipment (optional and not automatically covered)
● Theft, transit and cyber crime (hacking of the drone and loss of data)