Drone Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

Every professional service provider knows that drone insurance is an important part of doing business.  Here, drone insurance specialist Yuval Caspi explains how it works, what to look for, and how to make sure you’re covered when accidents happen.

Managing Mayhem: A Discussion with Yuval Caspi, Skywatch

By: Dawn M.K. Zoldi, Guest Contributor

This week on the InterDrone Drones at Dawn podcast, I had a great conversation with Yuval Caspi from Skywatch. Yuval is a licensed insurance broker and drone insurance specialist. For the past two years, she has worked closely with drone pilots and businesses from different sectors to understand their diverse coverage needs. Here, she answers some of the top questions about insurance from drone service providers (DSPs).

Dawn: A lot of DSPs ask, Do I even need insurance?”  What are the top 5 reasons people should seek insurance for their drone operations?

Yuval: There are usually two main reasons people do get coverage and five important considerations why they should. The two main reasons are: (1) getting coverage for ones own sake – ones own business desire or (2) meeting a clients demands. Insurance is all about operating safely, which is the primary concern, always. Having insurance on board is the first step to safe operations. Second, it establishes the DSP as a professional. As mentioned, most companies that hire DSPs require insurance. Having it in advance saves time and bolsters a companys credibility. Third, it mitigates risk and is helpful in obtaining approvals for waivers. Fourth, it allows you to fly with peace of mind, knowing you are covered if something goes wrong. Finally, being able to make amends in the event of a mishap and being accountable for potential mishaps helps to bolster public perception and promote the entire drone industry. Ultimately, the goal is to have a policy that meets your own business desires and needs but can also be modified on the go to meet clients’ demands as they arise. 

Dawn: Can you explain, briefly, the different coverages and when, generally someone might need one over the other ?

Yuval: Good aviation policies offer third party aviation liability which includes property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury pertaining to accidents caused by your drone operations as opposed to everyday accidents. Bodily injury refers to medical expenses and physical accidents, whereas personal injury refers to coverage for libel, slander, or invasion of privacy. This type of coverage is going to protect you against accidents caused by your drone operations which result in 3rd party damage. Aviation coverage needs are often different from general liability coverage. In fact, damage caused by any type of aircraft, drones included, may be excluded from your business or LLCs general liability policy. This is why an aviation policy is likely needed to supplement other coverages. If your drone operations are included in your homeowners policy, or any other plan, you want to make sure it also includes commercial use and not just recreational. If you operate professionally (hired by a client to conduct an operation) you want to have 3rd party drone liability because if anything were to happen, you want to make sure everyone around you is protected. If you are flying for recreational purposes, this same kind of policy will protect you for 3rd party damage. Hull coverage is different from 3rd party liability. It protects your drones and equipment from physical damage, loss or theft. This coverage is usually optional, and it really up to you to decide how much of your investment to protect.

Dawn: Whats the process to obtain aviation insurance?

Yuval: You can activate a policy in any way that best suits your needs. You can activate it with a broker over the phone and get support throughout the process. Alternatively, and the faster method is to activate it online. ASkyWatch.AI policy can be obtained in less than five minutes online through a user-friendly interface or through an app on your phone. You can activate the policy to begin immediately or pre-book it up 60 days in advance, depending on your timeline.

Dawn: What are the biggest mistakes youve seen people make that got them into hot water?

Yuval: From an insurance perspective, Ive seen people fly without fully understanding their coverage. Just as in operations, you need to know your parameters and limits. Operationally, the mishaps Ive seen usually involve pilots who did not pre-plan their flights. So, overall, whether for insurance or actual ops, Id say having all your paperwork in order before taking off is just as important as the flight plan itself.

Dawn: What are some practical tips youd give to keep a company to stay clear of trouble?

Yuval: If you are flying commercially and need to meet insurance requirements, don’t make assumptions. Understand your needs, ask questions, cross your ts, and dot your is then buy the policy. So often people just purchase any policy because it is easy. The hard part comes when they learn they did not get the right coverages, or the right limits, and therefore their job approvals get delayed or fall through the cracks. Taking the time to understand what you need upfront is the time consuming part. Activating the policy, that’s the easy part. I often work with people through this process to get coverage right upfront and the first time.

 Dawn: What practical advice would you give someone, once they get their insurance?

Yuval: Always have a plan for what you would do should an accident occur. The Ill never have an accident” mentality will not get you far. Weve seen some of the most experienced and professional pilots encounter accidents. Having standard operating procedures (SOPs) on how to address a mishap is a recommended best practice.

Dawn: Accidents happen. What tips would you give someone who has an accident?

Yuval: As I mentioned, always have a plan or SOPs, in place before the accident. Those should include documenting everything, taking pictures and obtaining witness information.  Remaining calm and following your SOPs will keep you from acting impulsively or doing something you might regret, in the stress of the moment.

Dawn: How easy is it to file a drone insurance claim?

Yuval: For any insurance, filing a claim should be easy. The more details you provide, the easier the process is and the faster it is completed. Download your flight logs, record accident details, and gather key documentation such as drone purchase, Part 107 license, registration data data etc.  Our process is online and digital.

Dawn: How soon are claims paid out?

Yuval: For any company, claim payment timelines are fact-dependent. Is it a total loss?  Is property repairable? Every situation is different, but the key is for the claimant to provide all needed information as soon as possible. We understand that getting your drone repaired or purchasing a new one is crucial to you getting your business back up and running. When all the right information is provided from the very beginning, we see claims paid out within a matter of business days.

Dawn M.K. Zoldi (Colonel, USAF, Retired) is a licensed attorney with 28 years of combined active duty military and federal civil service to the Department of the Air Force. She is an internationally recognized expert on unmanned aircraft system law and policy, the Law-Tech Connect™ columnist for Inside Unmanned Systems magazine, a recipient of the Woman to Watch in UAS (Leadership) Award 2019, and the CEO of P3 Tech Consulting LLC. For more information, visit her website at: https://www.p3techconsulting.com.



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