Do I Need Extra Insurance for My Drone?

Before your drone takes to the sky, see if your insurer will cover any damages the unmanned aircraft may cause to others or their property.

Question: I plan to buy a drone soon. Will my insurance cover any damages it might cause?

Answer: Damages caused by drones may be covered by the liability portion of your homeowners or renters’ insurance policy, but the details vary by insurer. “Some homeowners policies cover ‘model or hobby’ aircraft; others cover only model aircraft, and others exclude any aircraft,” says Bill Wilson, an insurance educator who runs the InsuranceCommentary.com (opens in new tab) blog.

Contact your insurance agent or company to find out whether your drone is covered and if there are any requirements or restrictions. You usually have to register your drone with the Federal Aviation Administration. (It costs $5 to register drones that weigh from 0.55 pounds to 55 pounds with the FAA for three years; see FAADroneZone (opens in new tab).) The policy may cover hobby use of the drone, but not commercial use by a business. For example, if you’re being paid to take pictures with the drone, ask your insurer whether you need to get special coverage.

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If your drone damages your own car, it would be covered by the comprehensive coverage on your car insurance. And it may be covered by the liability coverage on your homeowners or renters’ insurance if it damages someone else’s car.

Your homeowners or renters’ insurance may pay to replace a stolen drone (after the deductible). Ask your insurer about the property coverage limits on your policy.

If your home insurance policy provides no-fault medical coverage, it may cover any injuries to others caused by the drone (but not injury to your own family members), according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The Insurance Information Institute recommends checking your insurance coverage for drones frequently because insurers continue to develop their coverage as drones become more popular and the technology evolves. For more information about insurance coverage for drones, see the III’s Drones and Insurance guide (opens in new tab). For more information about the safety and registration requirements for drones, see KnowBeforeYouFly.org (opens in new tab).

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.