Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Recreational Drones?

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Drones are relatively new in the eyes of regulators and insurance companies, so it can be difficult to figure out when your drone is and isn't covered. Here's a good rule of thumb: If you have a drone and use it strictly for recreational purposes, your homeowners insurance or renters insurance will likely cover it.

When does insurance cover drones?

Whether your insurance company covers your drone depends on how you use it.

  • Recreationally: Most homeowners insurance and renters insurance companies consider drones a model or hobby aircraft. If you use the drone recreationally for at least 90% of the time, your policy should cover the drone as personal property.
  • Commercially: If you use the drone for business purposes — for example, you film weddings for clients — then you're using the drone commercially. Your homeowners or renters insurance company won't cover the drone for business use.

If your insurance policy covers your drone, it will typically be protected against the "16 common perils," such as fire, theft, vandalism and wind. An HO-5 policy — which is the most comprehensive type of homeowners policy — will cover damage from anything that is not explicitly excluded.

For example, an HO-5 policy will likely cover the drone if your toddler breaks it. But if your drone is damaged during a natural flood, and you do not have flood insurance, the policy won't pay for a replacement.

Liability insurance

The liability coverage under your homeowners or renters insurance policy should protect you up to your coverage limits. Liability coverage typically pays for:

  • Medical bills
  • Legal expenses
  • Costs of repairing or replacing damaged property
  • Invasion of privacy claims

But it's important to contact your insurer and ask whether it lists exclusions for drones. Most come equipped with cameras and other recording devices, making it easier to breach someone's privacy. Your policy should cover you if the breach of privacy was unintentional. But your insurance company may be reluctant to defend you if you're convicted of a crime.

How much does your homeowners/renters insurance cover?

If your drone is damaged or lost in a covered peril, your homeowners or renters policy covers you up to the limits of your personal property coverage, minus your deductible.

But you'll also need to take these factors into account:

  • Additional limits: Some policies may put additional limits on specific types of property, such as jewelry, electronics or other high-value items. Contact your insurer to see what limits — if any — apply to drones.
  • The deductible: If replacing or repairing the drone would cost less than or around the same amount as your deductible, you might be better off not filing a claim, as your insurance premiums may increase as a result.
  • The extent of liability coverage: Your liability insurance covers you if your drone damages someone else's property, causes injuries or breaches someone's right to privacy. However, you may still pay out of pocket if your liability coverage won't cover all of the damage or medical costs incurred.
  • Your assets: If you have significant assets, we recommend carrying more liability coverage because you have more to lose in a lawsuit. One way to increase your liability coverage is to purchase an umbrella policy, which goes into effect after your homeowners liability coverage is exhausted.

How do you file a claim?

If your drone is involved in a covered incident, the steps you'll need to take depend on the type of claim:

  • Theft: If your drone is stolen, contact the police as soon as possible and file a police report. Ask for extra copies for your insurer and your personal records. Then, contact your insurance company to file a claim.
  • Damage: If your drone is damaged by a covered peril, photograph the damage and the source, and preserve as much evidence as possible. Next, contact your insurer to submit a claim.
  • Liability incident: Contact your insurer right away if the drone is involved in an accident where you could be held liable for damages or medical costs.

In a theft or damage incident, your insurance may cover either the actual cash value of your drone or its replacement cost, depending on the type of policy you have. If you decide to file a claim, include pictures that show the original condition of the drone if possible.

Liability coverage partly depends on the nature of the incident. Your insurance won't provide coverage if you willfully caused harm or broke the law. But you'll likely be covered if the incident was unintentional.

When filing a claim, you'll fill out a form and explain the exact nature of the claim. It's also a good idea to submit evidence, if you have it, and provide correspondence from third parties, such as information from attorneys or medical costs incurred by an injured person. You may also need to appear in court if a lawsuit is brought against you.

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