Drones are becoming increasingly popular for both recreational and commercial use. It may be fun to fly a drone around in your back yard, but what happens if you accidentally crash it into your neighbor’s house? Or what if the built in camera most drones are equipped with takes photos or video of a neighbor?
Does a homeowner’s policy provide liability coverage?
The liability portion of a homeowner’s policy covers an insured for damages because of bodily injury, property damage, or personal injury, which includes invasion of privacy. The homeowner’s policy specifically excludes coverage arising out of the use of aircraft, but this exclusions doesn’t apply to model or hobby aircraft. A homeowner using a drone is probably using a model or hobby aircraft; therefore, a homeowner’s policy will likely provide coverage for those customers who use drones for recreational purposes. However, each claim and policy requires a thorough investigation to ensure a proper coverage analysis.
Does a homeowner’s policy provide coverage for insureds using a drone as a recording device?
To determine coverage, the first question to ask is, “Did the recording result in body injury, property damage, or personal injury?” If it did, the homeowner’s policy may exclude coverage due to the intentional act exclusion, which excludes coverage for damages that are expected or intended, even if the resulting damages are different from what the inured initially expected. A homeowner who records someone is arguably engaged in an intentional act; therefore, this exclusion may apply. It’s important to keep in mind there may be no coverage for a homeowner who uses a drone as a recording device.
Does a Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy provide liability coverage?
The insuring agreement of a CGL policy provides coverages for body injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury, but a CGL policy is very different from a homeowner’s policy. A CGL specifically excludes coverages for damages arising out of the use of any aircraft. A drone is an aircraft; therefore, it’s probably subject to the exclusion. It’s important to understand that a CGL policy will likely exclude coverage for insureds using drones for their business.
The consumer drone industry is still young, but it’s rapidly growing. The government now requires you to register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds. If you are thinking about purchasing a drone, you should review the Federal Aviation Administration’s website for more information. In addition, you should familiarize yourself with state and local laws as many municipalities now regulate drone coverage.