When running your business as a commercial drone pilot, there are many decisions to make. I wish I could say that I spend all my time flying my drones, but there are numerous other hats to wear besides that of a pilot. Much of my time, and I assume yours too, is spent doing all the other things that make a successful business run.
As any business owner knows, there is some truth to the age-old adage that you must spend money to make money. I hate spending my money on things other than the latest drone to hit the market. Unfortunately, some things are less exciting than drones, but still necessary to keep the business going. One of these expenses is insurance.
When I started my drone business in 2017, drone insurance wasn't an option. As companies started offering coverage, I was hesitant to get it. After all, I had gone a couple of years without it and not had any issues, so why would I need it now?
Eventually, I noticed that some of my clients wanted to only work with pilots carrying insurance. For that reason, I started taking a closer look at my options.
Picking your insurance is, in many ways, a math game. It is similar to deciding what to charge for your services. Many factors go into determining what rates to charge your customers. You may be cheating yourself if you pick a number without using a formula covering everything related to your cost and the profit you want. Insurance should be thought of in the same way.
How much liability coverage should you have? Do you need hull insurance to cover the loss of your drone? Do you even need insurance at all?
No one size fits all insurance exists because everyone's situation will be different. I suggest contacting a lawyer or insurance agent to discuss risks and your best coverage. That being said, I'll tell you what I do.
Personally, I think insurance is worth the cost. I have used SkyWatch.AI for a few years now and like their service. I carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance and find most of my clients look for between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in liability coverage. Liability insurance covers property damage, bodily injury, privacy claims, and some damage to the drone. It does not fully cover the loss of the drone. I add additional coverage for that. I spend $80 a month on my coverage and have developed a formula that absorbs that cost into my quotes.
For those who think insurance is a waste of money, I'll offer this example from my misadventures as a drone pilot. I was on a gig near Vidal Junction, CA. If you are unfamiliar with this location, it is in the middle of nowhere in the Mojave Desert. The area has one gas station and an agricultural checkpoint as its top attractions.
I was flying a DJI Mavic 2 Pro for this gig and was on my final flight. As I was bringing the drone in to land, it suddenly lost its connection with the remote, turned in the opposite direction, and flew into the great unknown. The terrain in this area was too dangerous to go into, so even with the last known grid, there was no way to retrieve my drone.
Thankfully I had insurance on it. At this point, I had paid a little less than $20 a month for the coverage on my Mavic 2 Pro and had done so for about two years. So, for argument's sake, let's call that $480. After filing the claim with SkyWatch.AI, they deposited the insurance money in a few days, and I bought a replacement drone without anything out of pocket. The drone I bought was a Mavic Air 2S for around $1,500. I saved over $1,000 by having the insurance, which was a cost I had factored into what my clients were paying me for my gigs. It was a total win for me any way you look at it.
The moral of the story is, if you don't want your eyes welling up with tears as your drone becomes self-aware and disappears into the desert, carry insurance. And remember, just like having a formula for generating quotes, take time to do the math and make sure you get the insurance amount you need. Happy and safe flying!
Article Written by David Daly