Dec 05 2016


This Holiday Season We Can Expect To See More Toy Drones Take To The Skies Than Ever Before. In This Blog, Bearingstar Insurance Discusses The Potential Risks and Liabilities Of Being a Drone Owner That May Require Enhanced Insurance Coverages.

Before you run out to Home Depot or click “Buy” on Amazon to purchase a drone for the holidays, our local insurance team would like to share some important information about what it truly means to be a drone owner.

There are some basic steps that you should take before you can safely enjoy your new purchase, including that you might need to register this new toy with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

First, though, let’s start with understanding what a drone actually is. As defined by the FAA, a drone is an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). However, drones are not to be confused with traditional remote-control model airplanes, which already have their own sets of rules and guidelines. Sophisticated toy airplanes often resemble real airplanes and are controlled almost entirely from the ground and require some expertise to pilot. In contrast, drones can often hover on their own and be programmed to fly from one place to another.

If the drone on your holiday wish list is between 0.55lbs and 55lbs, here are some additional factors to consider:

– The FAA usually does not differentiate between the drone you just bought/received and a commercial drone or one that is used for official purposes
– Under the law your drone will probably be considered aircraft that you must register with the FAA to receive an operator’s license
– It also appears that whenever you fly your drone anywhere in our nation’s airspace, you may automatically become part of the U.S. aviation system and you accept the same responsibility of operating your drone safely

No matter where you live in the U.S., there may be specific local laws governing drone use that you should educate yourself on before your first flight. So, we encourage you to regularly check your state’s government site in addition to the FAA’s website to get the latest information about what you are required to do as a drone owner.

Being aware of the law and always following it is an important part of drone ownership. Failure to follow some rules and regulations can result in significant fines and even jail time, which would be a terrible place to spend the holidays!

If this holiday season brings a drone to your home, we are sure there will be lots of excitement about flying it immediately. However, Bearingstar Insurance highly recommends that you pause a moment and consider the things that could go wrong if you are not properly prepared to pilot your new toy. Even a 0.55lb drone losing battery charge at 300 feet and dropping straight down could cause extensive damage to your neighbor’s car, or worse, injury to your neighbor.

For example, here are three real life headlines related to consumer drone flights gone awry:

– Drone Crash! Breaks through window and hits guy in the head. YouTube
– Drone Crashes, Hits 2 People During Marblehead Parade. CBSBoston.com
– Kentucky man shoots down drone spying on 16-year-old daughter. The Daily Dot

As you can see, a drone can invade people’s privacy and cause serious bodily injury or property damage. Your drone is also not immune to a cyber attack and today’s smart hackers can easily take control of your new toy for the purposes of stealing it or to simply cause some chaos in your neighborhood.

To make sure that all of your drone flights are smooth sailing, the FAA has created a very useful safety checklist that will help you fly safe, smart, and still have fun, whether you are a newly minted drone pilot or have been flying as a hobby for years. Bearingstar suggests you carefully go through this pre-flight checklist every time you plan to put your drone into the clear blue sky. Also, remember to regularly check for any updated safety guidelines on faa.gov/uas.

There’s no question drones are an extraordinary technology that can certainly enhance our lives in many ways, including providing your family with a fun hobby. However, the team at Bearingstar Insurance also wants to make sure you are aware of the risks and liability related to drone ownership and operation.

If you think a drone may be a brand new addition to your household this holiday season or in the future, then please call your Bearingstar agent. We will review your current policies to ensure that you have sufficient personal injury or umbrella coverage to protect you should you have an unfortunate drone-related accident or claim against you. Contact us today at one of our 18 Massachusetts or Connecticut offices.

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