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Travel Insurance for drones

11 November, 2018 By Natalie Smith

Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, taking a drone on holiday is the latest travel trend. Drones have quickly gained popularity as the latest and greatest travel accessory among holidaymakers and enquiries to cover them is on the rise.  However, it’s getting harder and harder to find a travel  insurer that’ll actually cover them.

If you're planning to use a drone to shoot insta-worthy videos overseas - it's vital to be aware of of the the local laws, permit requirements, fines and travel insurance options availabe to you. 

No matter whether you've got a $50 toy, or a $2,000 higher end model you’ll need to do your homework to ensure your kit is properly protected. 

Beyond the cost of your fancy flying machine, whether it’s personal pleasure or commercial flying, it is important to consider where you stand in terms of personal injury, personal liability and invasion of privacy claims. No matter how experienced the pilot is, if the drone suddenly loses power and crashes onto a car, or worse…a kid, someone is going to have to pay for damages and/or injuries.  

Which travel insurers cover drones?

General Advice Warning: The contents of this article were accurate at the time of writing. Insurers change their policies from time to time, so some information may have changed. You should always read the Product Disclosure Statement of your chosen insurer to understand what is covered and what isn't. The information provided is of a general nature only and does not take into account any personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your personal circumstances.

In no instances do any travel insurers listed above cover Personal Liability when you own, possess or use a mechanically propelled vehicle, such as a drone. 

What’s typically not covered?

Wear and tear: Some drones are much more reliable than others. If you went for a cheap model and it breaks on your first flight you are on your own in terms of cover.

Whilst in use: Drones are fragile pieces of complex technology which are prone to damage when in use.  In the same way that jewellery has restrictions on cover due to its high propensity for loss or theft, drones are being excluded from luggage cover due to the likelihood of damage. So, if you’re a novice, a bit rusty, or you’re flying in windy weather, it might be wise to wait for better flying conditions before taking to the skies. 

Personal Liability: Most insurers exclude personal liability cover when operating a mechanically propelled device or vehicle.

Leaving it unattended: If you’re on the beach and head in for a dip leaving your drone alone, you wouldn’t be covered for leaving it unsupervised where it could easily have been pinched.

Unreported items: Most policies will maintain that it is your responsibility to report theft or loss to the relevant authority (and your travel insurance provider) within 24 hours.

Items with no proof of purchase: Without an original receipt to prove your purchase, your claim might be rejected. Something to bear in mind is that photocopied, faxed or scanned documents may not be accepted.

What are your options?

Found yourself stuck without cover? Depending on the kind of drone you have and how you use it, you may be able to obtain coverage for both drone damage and personal liability through your home and contents insurance policy. But don’t make assumptions, you’ll probably need to specify the item on your policy. It’s vital to check whether it covers you for drone hull damage, personal liability, medical costs and whether you’re covered overseas or just within Australia. 
If you’re commercial flyer, you could opt for a standalone drone or UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) insurance policy such as or Alternatively, get in touch with a specialist insurance broker.

What’s typically covered by travel insurance?

Loss: Packing your brand-new toy, only to realise it’s been nabbed from your carry-on. Relax, at least your policy will cover you to replace it when you get home. 

Theft: If your drone is stolen during your holiday, your policy will reimburse you, however depreciation may apply unless you specify it as a high value item.

Damage: Go to get your drone from the overhead bin to find that one of the legs has snapped off! Rest assured, you could claim for your out-of-pocket expense to repair or replace. 

Drones left in a boot of a car: If your drone was locked in the boot or concealed storage compartment of your car, and it was stolen, you are covered. Sometimes this benefit only applies during daylight hours.

Tips for taking your drone on holiday

Know the local laws: All countries have different rules and regulations on where you can and cannot fly your drone. For example, it’s illegal to fly drones in Dubai, it’s almost impossible to get a permit in Fiji or Canada, and in Egypt penalties range from one year in prison to capital punishment!!  Make sure you’re clued up on up on your holiday destinations rules as many travellers have been caught off guard when it’s too late. ‘Can I fly there’ is a groovy app that that tells you where you’re allowed to fly and if there are any restrictions in that area. Also DroneMate, has all of the recreational drone laws around the world.

Tourist attractions have banned drones: You are not allowed to fly a drone at the Statue of Liberty, the Hoover Dam, the Colosseum, Stonehenge, or London’s Hyde Park. Before you take flight, consider if you’re allowed to, or you could find yourself in serious risk of some big fines, or worse. 

Don’t fly in national parks: National parks restrict the use of drones. Parks Victoria and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service both require anyone wishing to fly a drone in a national park to check with the park manager, and to ensure the drone will not annoy park visitors or affect wildlife. 

Rules apply: The Aussie guidelines around flying recreational drones under 2kg are quite easy to remember – you’re ok if you’re under an altitude of 400 feet (121m) and away from crowds, you don't fly at night, over beaches, parks, public events and always make sure it stays within your line of sight. However, if you’re flying a drone over 2kg, you’ll need to be registered with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and have an operator's certificate for your unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and liability insurance in case it accidently drops out of the sky and onto somebody’s noggin. 

Do your research

The consequences of not knowing the rules when flying drones overseas can be significant. Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has been in jail for a year after being charged with espionage after flying a drone over a political rally in Cambodia's capital. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail. recently reported that a Dutch tourist was fined more than US$3,000 for crashing a drone aircraft into a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, while a French tourist who was caught flying a drone over the Colosseum in Rome faced a possible fine of €113,000. 

Even the most experienced of high flyers can experience an unfortunate nose dive that could injure someone, or cause damage to personal or public property resulting in high costs, medical expenses and personal injury.

Give yourself peace of mind by taking the time to find an insurance policy that provides enough cover for your UAV and liability. Making sure you’re familiar with the local laws means you can avoid fines and arrests and enjoy your holiday to its fullest…. and be the envy of all your friends when you bring home your new fabulous footage. 

Contributor Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith

Having travelled to over 40 countries, studied tourism management and worked as a flight attendant for over three years, Natalie knows more than a thing or two about travel! She’s an adventure-lover, whose favourite trips have been trekking Machu Picchu and volunteering in an animal shelter in the Amazon. Qualified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice and specialising in travel insurance for the last five years, she in passionate about helping travellers get the most out of their holiday.

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