In July, the government announced new rules for UK drone owners. The changes will affect many hobbyists as well as commercial fliers. All drone pilots need need to familiarise themselves with these new regulations and take the necessary steps to comply. Here we answer your questions on the changes and explore if they could impact on requirements for drone insurance too.
Drone sales have soared in the last few years. And so have the incidents drones have been involved in. There were a reported 70 near-misses in 2016, up from just 6 in 2014 according to the Civil Aviation Authority. So it was always only a matter of time before safety and regulatory issues would need to be addressed.
What are the new rules?
- Drones over 250g will have to be registered. Currently only drones over 20kg must be registered. This significant change means thousands of commercial and recreational drones will need to be registered in the future. To give you a rough idea, 250g is just under the weight of two iPhone 6’s
- Users will need to sit special safety awareness tests. These are designed to ensure that anyone flying a drone knows the relevant safety, security and privacy regulations
- A new database of sensitive sites and buildings will be created and manufacturers will install “geo-fencing” sensors to prevent drones from taking off in or entering these areas
When do the new rules come into force?
There is no date specified at the moment.
Will drone insurance become compulsory?
The current law states that if you are flying commercially or your drone weighs more than 20kg, insurance is required.
Drone owners and insurers are now closely watching to see if drone insurance will be made mandatory for lighter drones in the wake of the new legislation. When compulsory registration comes into force for drones over 250g, the police will be able to identify the owner of any drone that causes any damage or an accident. With that in mind, some people feel that public liability insurance will need to become compulsory for flying, just as third party insurance is essential to drive a car. By way of comparison, there was a similar situation when the automobile first took to the streets. Insurance was not obligatory at first, until the risks became known and legislation was introduced.
Even if you don’t need drone insurance by law, having it will give you peace of mind. Things can easily wrong. The high costs of paying out legal fees or replacing your drone means insurance can save you money in the long run.
Is my recreation drone covered by my household insurance?
Most standard household policies exclude aircraft or motorised vehicles. There is much debate about whether a drone falls into that category or could be described as a toy. Keen to protect themselves, many insurance companies now have specific exclusion clauses for drones, even if they are only toys.
To find out if your drone is already covered by your home insurance you should check directly with your insurance company. Be aware that although your drone may be covered by your home insurance for theft or damage whilst it is within your property, it may not be covered whilst it’s being transported or flown. If you want this level of cover you’ll need to take out a separate policy.
What about high-value drones?
The cost of drones can rise into the £thousands. Check the individual limit on possessions for your household insurance policy. Depending on the cost of replacement you may need to add your drone as a specified item. Or you may decide it is easier to take out specific drone insurance.
Do I need any other insurance cover for my drone?
Public liability insurance is a big consideration for drone owners. Drones are capable of doing substantial damage to property or to people if they crash. Accidents can and do happen even if you are flying safely and you could find yourself facing a legal claim against you. Public liability insurance will pay out for the cost of legal fees to defend your case as well as any compensation you are ordered to pay to an injured party.
What about privacy laws?
Personal injury and damage to property are not the only legal claims you could face. If you fly a drone fitted with a camera, you could also face action against you for breaching data protection and privacy laws. Again, insurance can help you to pay your legal fees in these cases.
Follow the law to fly safe
Just like any aircraft, a drone must be operated safely. Make sure you’re familiar with the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Code. This has six key principles:
- always keep your drone in sight
- stay below 400 feet (120 metres) to comply with the drone code
- every time you fly your drone you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions
- keep the right distance from people and property
- you are responsible for each flight
- stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields
If you’re not sure where it is safe to fly your drone, download the Drone Assist app from NATS, which shows you areas to avoid or to fly in with caution.
Whilst you currently don’t need to register a personal drone in the UK, be aware that the law is different in other countries. Always check before you fly when you’re abroad.
Drone insurance you can count on
For the best value deal, shop around or ask a specialist drone insurance broker, like Park Insurance, to do this for you.
Park Insurance offer commercial drone insurance to businesses of all sizes. Because we’re independent brokers, we’re free to scour the market for the most competitive price. We’ll source cover that is tailored to your specific needs so you get the level of protection you need without paying over the odds.
Call our friendly team on 0117 955 6835 or get a quote today.