Just the other day I blogged about a soon expected explosion in drone injury lawsuits. To summarize, this December, those drones look lovely all wrapped up under the Christmas tree, but soon they will take to our skies. And fall from those skies. Fall on things. And on people.
If sales projections are accurate, tens of thousands of novice recipients of these gifts will try their hands at the controls of these small, unmanned aerial vehicles with spinning and unguarded rotors.
And guess what: Some folks are going to get injured!
Today I am blogging about the related issue of drone injury insurance coverage in New York.
Wait. What coverage? Is there even any insurance coverage for that? That’s a good question. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for general negligence on the part of the homeowner and his or her family, even where the negligence is not related to the home itself. But there are countless exclusions to coverage written into most policies, and one of them is “aviation” accidents. Many insurance carriers, when faced with an onslaught of drone injury claims, are likely to argue that this exclusion encompasses recreational drones, which the Federal Aviation Administration classifies as “small aircraft.” On the other hand, some polices specifically say that “model or hobby aircraft not designed to fly people or cargo” are included in the policy, but some don’t.
So it’s confusing. Your best bet is to call your insurance carrier and ask whether drone liability is included. If not, there is separate insurance you can purchase to cover your drone. One such police is included in membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics ($75 per year membership fee). As a member, you will get $2.5 million in personal liability coverage from Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance, part of ACE Group.
Even if you don’t join the “Academy”, though, personal drones are easy to insure. You can buy individual drone liability coverage from almost any private insurance agent.
If you or a loved one is getting a drone for Christmas, I highly recommend you call your homeowner’s insurance agent to see whether the personal injuries your drone may inflict are covered. If not, look into buying some drone insurance or joining the “Academy of Model Aeronautics” to get their group insurance.
Don’t fly unprotected.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.