No one appreciates radio controlled toys more than I do! Even at 33 years old, I still find myself itching to buy the newest RC gadgets. Before you go out and buy the newest drone, though, you should consider the risks.
I know, I know – here I go spoiling all your fun. After all, I am an insurance geek, so this is a constant internal conflict for me... Having fun and knowing the consequences!
The FAA just released estimates that about 1 million drones will be purchased this Christmas. That has some people a little concerned, including the FAA itself (the Federal Aviation Administration). Why is this so concerning? Well, while drones are fun and entertaining, they can be destructive and, in some cases, dangerous. There are more and more reports of people being hurt and property being damaged by a drone. This becomes a liability problem.
If you are flying your drone and injure someone or damage a car or house, you could be sued for the damages. The question is, are you covered? Most homeowners insurance policies (and renters insurance, too) have Personal Liability on them, and in many cases, something like this could be covered. Most companies will look at this like any other mishap during which you accidentally injure someone or damage someone's property. If you are intentionally hurting someone or damaging property, though, your hope of coverage goes out the window.
The key to this is knowing if you are at risk. If you (or your child) are flying a drone, there is a liability risk! So be cautious and be educated. Some of the higher dollar drones can fly up to 1,000 feet, which is way above the FAA altitude limit (400 feet) for unmanned aircraft. This could be very dangerous if a small aircraft was in the same area. Something else to consider is that the FAA is now requiring that most of these devices be registered. So, you'll want to register your drone here. If you were to cause damage and the drone was not registered with the FAA, your insurance company could possibly deny the claim since you're operating a drone illegally.
Keep all of this in mind when you're thinking about buying your sweetie a drone (or even your kids!). I'm not advising you not to get one... I would love a drone for Christmas! Just keep the risks in mind when operating it. Take it to an open field when learning how to fly it. When playing with your new toy, try to remain in an area where you are less likely to hit someone or something (in the event that you aren't a Jedi Master just yet and you lose control of your drone)!
FYI – Just in case any of you are wanting to get me a drone for Christmas... I really like the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter Drone! Hint, hint!