In today’s topsy-turvy world, we’re all familiar with insurance. We insure our cars, our trucks, our motorcycles, our boats, our homes, ourselves.
Heck, at this point, it might even just be easier to list what we don’t insure. So, yeah, we’re all pretty familiar with insurance and how it works.
The question then is, should you insure your Mini 3 or Mini 3 Pro? If so, what type of insurance should you carry?
Then of course the most important question of all. What’s it going to cost you?
The insurance industry as a whole was late to the party when it comes to insuring one’s UAV.
I remember the first time I brought it up with my agent. He couldn’t even tell me if there was a policy that would cover my request. He had never heard of it and would have to look into it.
At that time, what we found was an aviation insurance company that would extend coverage, although they were only used to dealing with manned aircraft.
That policy was a first of its kind for them, and it was pricey. Luckily for you, this is now and not then.
Nowadays we have many companies that we can go to for insurance for our unmanned aircraft and accessories.
More importantly, the cost of such plans has come down quite a bit and is more affordable than ever.
Of course, just as we see with car insurance, not all insurers are the same, with some being better than others. We even see some of the big insurers now getting on board with plans.
Companies such as State Farm or Allstate now offer coverage for Unmanned Aerial Systems, a market they largely ignored for some time, mind you.
You will find that drone insurance has become quite versatile, with some companies offering hourly coverage over an all-the-time policy.
For those infrequent flyers, this can be a nice, cost-effective means of having coverage only when you need it.
Now, as a commercial operator, I have and maintain a policy year-round, for my needs. That’s best for me. The fact is, like any insurance policy, it can be somewhat customized for your needs.
Now back to those questions.
Should you insure your Mini 3/Mini 3 Pro?
To answer the question in a roundabout way, let’s look at a scenario, something any of us could find ourselves in, and maybe we’ll find our answer.
It’s a beautiful day, the sun’s shining and there’s not even enough wind to mention. You’re having a very nice flight; everything is great.
Then suddenly, you see a jump in the viewscreen – weird but, ok. Then a warning pops up in the upper right-hand corner. It happens quick; you didn’t even catch what it said.
The footage on the screen is bouncy and seems to be spinning, not the stable view you are used to.
You look up and find the aircraft in the sky. It’s reacting strangely, jumping around some and spinning around, and doesn’t seem to be responding to the commands you’re giving.
Or it is as if those commands seem to be the opposite of what you’re inputting. You’re trying to guide it back to yourself, and then, then it happens.
It just drops from the air. Its crash site is hard to see as it has dropped down on the other side of a building.
You head over to the area where it came down to discover it has damaged a large pane of the glass window of a business. It must have smacked into it pretty good – it cracked the glass, but didn’t break it entirely.
Your drone is in pieces at the base of this window, and of course, the crash has attracted the attention of those inside.
They go through the list of emotions one goes through in these situations: first, they’re mad, very mad. Then they calm down and understand it was an accident.
Now it’s time to fix it. So, let’s stop right there.
Here we have a situation where the pilot is responsible for the damage that was done by the drone crashing. There is no debate; the pilot is the responsible party.
They are not only responsible for the damage to the window but to the aircraft as well.
In this situation, what we simulated was a motor failure. Some of you more savvy pilots might have even caught it from the description. A motor failure can happen to the best of us at any time.
As a drone pilot, you take a risk with every flight you take.
In the worst-case scenario, you hurt someone on the ground with your aircraft. You, as the pilot, would be just as responsible as in this story of a fictional pane of glass.
So, what’s the damage above going to run us?
One thing is the bad blood the crash will generate. Many people fear drones for one reason or another, and an incident like this just provides them with more ammo to use to support their fears. So, handling this in the best way is best.
So, let’s say it’s a 6 ft by 8 ft pane of glass we need. It’s tempered glass and tinted. We would be looking at anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 to replace that cracked window. Plus, the loss of the craft itself.
That’s not pocket change, and without having some sort of liability insurance that is going to be coming out of your pocket. I think we have our answer, then.
Always protecting yourself with the bubble of insurance is a good idea.
Accidents aren’t accidents because we plan them; they’re accidents because they can happen to anyone at any time.
Types of Insurance
I think we answered the first question fairly well. The second question we asked, though, is a bit more complicated.
When we discuss insurance for drone systems. We’ll find that there are two main proponents to this type of coverage. The first is Liability Insurance. This type of insurance is to protect you in the event you damage someone else’s property.
Then there is Hull Insurance. Hull insurance is to protect your investment or your property. Don’t fret. We’ll cover each one a little more individually.
As we mentioned above, liability insurance is just like what you find with your car or home policy, and it covers you in the event that someone is hurt, or their property is damaged.
In our scenario above, this is the insurance that will cover the window that was damaged. That $2,000 to $4,000 would be covered by this type of insurance. Of course, like your car or home insurance, there may be a deductible and a limit to the coverage.
When setting up this type of insurance coverage you will select the amount of coverage the policy will carry. Anywhere from $500,000 to a million or even higher. This is a choice you will make when choosing your plan.
Why so high? This is a question you may be asking.
In our scenario, we used a glass window. Keeping in that venue, what if that glass window is 10 stories up, and the cost to replace it is in the 10’s of thousands.
Having that protection is certainly needed in that situation and is the reason for such high limits.
You don’t know what amount of potential cost the damage that a crash may cause. It is for this reason that you will want an amount higher than the potential cost for any damage you may cause. Let’s move on to Hull Insurance.
This type of insurance is for your own personal belongings, such as the Mini 3 / Mini 3 Pro itself. This type of insurance would replace your aircraft in the broken window scenario we used above.
Hull insurance goes beyond that, though, and you can also insure the control station, the phone or tablet you use, down to the carrying case it is all contained in.
Hull insurance is very versatile to what you decide to cover or not, as this coverage deals with the replacement of your belongings and is not just related to accidental loss. It can tend toward the pricier end of things when we discuss drone insurance.
On my own policy, for example, it is the Hull insurance that runs me the most and is around two-thirds of the total policy cost. Now, I do cover all of my essential gear, though. For me, it makes sense. For you, it may not.
There are other things to consider, like your phone. It may be covered under its own protection policy through the carrier you have, so adding it to a Hull policy wouldn’t make any sense.
If you have Care Refresh, adding the system to a Hull policy would be unnecessary as it’s covered under the Care Refresh coverage it has.
So, no, Hull insurance isn’t going to be for everyone. Just know it’s there if you need it.
Here I could put something cute, something like: “The cost of insurance is only outweighed by the cost of your peace of mind.” I know, right? Cheesy!
The fact is that with what we do, we should be protecting ourselves from losing everything due to an accident, which could very well happen.
For the most part, just having a Liability policy is good enough and can be found relatively cheaply.
When you add in Hull coverage, these policies can get a bit out of hand, with the cost of that coverage skyrocketing the policy as a whole.
For one, if you have Care Refresh, as many do, having the Hull coverage isn’t needed as the aircraft is covered to some degree elsewhere.
Then there is the cost of the craft itself and if it warrants a policy or if that wouldn’t make sense, as most Hull coverage policies require a deductible, typically $500. To cover a Mini 3 or even the slightly higher-cost Mini 3 Pro, it doesn’t really make sense.
As there are many companies to choose from, we’ll not try and list any actual pricing, just know that a basic 1-million-dollar liability policy should be well under $500 for a year of coverage and can be found for even less than $250 a year with some companies.
Now, I did mention earlier in this article that some insurers even offer hourly coverage. This is true, and if you do not need full-time coverage, this could be a good option for you. Let’s take a closer look at that.
The 1-Hour Plan
Some drone insurers offer a limited-time coverage policy, typically in one-hour periods. Now with this type of coverage, it would only be for liability coverage. These types of plans do not offer Hull coverage at all.
It’s pretty straightforward. You arrive at a location you intend on flying at, open the insurer’s app, and select the time of coverage.
This will generate a policy for that time period and location. Pay the small fee, and you are covered for that period.
The fees for one hour of coverage can run anywhere from $4.00 to $20, depending on your location. You may be wondering why it wouldn’t be the same everywhere.
In this case, the insurer has done an assessment and determined there is more risk in one area over another.
We know this is true. Flying alone in the country isn’t as risky as flying in a metro park. The cost for coverage per hour reflects that.
This type of coverage can be suitable for the pilot who doesn’t fly very often or flies mostly in rural areas and only occasionally needs coverage when migrating to more populated areas.
Whether this is a cost-effective measure for you, only you can decide that.
What Do I Think?
I think that for the very same reasons you would insure your auto, you should insure your aircraft. One should never lose sight of the fact that we operate flying machines. By their very nature, when something goes wrong, it goes wrong in a big way.
With an aircraft like the DJI Mini 3 or the Mini 3 Pro, having and maintaining a Hull policy isn’t really recommended.
With the deductible most Hull policies have, it doesn’t make much sense cost-wise, and you can always go with Care Refresh as a good option. That’s for your aircraft, though.
Having and maintaining a Liability policy is just a good, smart operating tactic.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a hobbyist or a professional pilot. One crash involving a bystander or valuable property and you could lose everything you have ever worked for.
That is the level of risk you and I take when we take to the air and fly.
Now as a commercial pilot, I have and maintain both Liability and Hull coverage. Of course, the Hull policy I have covers all of my aircraft.
For this coverage, which is a 1-million-dollar Liability and Hull policy. I pay $719 a year, with that covering five aircraft and assorted other items.
Now, this has come down over time from a number that was a bit higher. If I remember correctly, it was originally almost $1,000 for the year or just shy of it.
I was able to reduce costs by providing my flight logs and proving that I am a safe flyer. Plus, having maintained the policy for a longer period of time. I think I’ve been with this carrier now for four years, maybe five.
Also, when I find myself in need of additional coverage, which has come up a time or two, I am able to supplement my yearly plan with an hourly plan. So, only having that extra coverage when needed.
You protect yourself when you drive. Doesn’t it just make sense to protect yourself when you fly? I think it does.
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!