The provision or lack of insurance coverage for the hobbyist drone flyer

I was told this week that the insurance company behind the British Model Flying Association’s insurance policy for BMFA members is pulling the plug on insuring drones and will only insure model aircraft under the BMFA members policy. This does perhaps raise an interesting question as to what is the difference between the two, but that is a mere side discussion in the bigger picture of the implications of this decision.

So far there appears to have been no general announcement of this change by the BMFA, and we will need to wait for confirmation to see if it is correct. If it is correct, the reasoning of the insurers for deciding not to cover hobbyist drone use will be of great interest. Have they decided for example that the risk level is such that it is simply not practicable to provide insurance at a realistic premium? If so, it leaves open the question as to whether any drone hobbyist insurance will be available.

Currently in the UK there must be tens of thousands of leisure users who have absolutely no public liability insurance cover to protect themselves, and as such are financially vulnerable if their drone flying causes damage, whether by injury to someone or by damage to property. At best, home content insurance will cover a possible theft of low value drones, but certainly not for harm caused by the actual flying of a drone.

The lack of insurance coverage not only of course leaves the hobbyist drone flyer vulnerable to potentially massive damages in a worse case scenario, but also the person injured or whose property has been damaged is vulnerable in that they may have a claim which they simply cannot enforce due to the lack of assets of the negligent drone flyer.

Whilst we may hope that any type of accident involving drone use will not happen, this is wishful thinking and we must be realistic and expect accidents to happen. A solution to the potential lack of insurance coverage needs to be found urgently; and alongside this it must be addressed whether we should require the provision of compulsory insurance, in order to protect both the flyer and the innocent victims of accidents.

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