Insurance for UK Drone Operators


IMG_1623As in all walks of life insurance is required for drone operations, for that what if moment. Those what if moments have happened to someone somewhere, even with the best planning in the world and the best drone technology. There are bound to be things that go wrong and you need to be insured for that.  If you are planning on operating in a commercial capacity, you will need insurance to obtain your Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) its a legal requirement.

First of all when you take your flight test you will need your insurance in place, the training NQE will not let you take the flight test until you have insurance from that day. More of that later.

Once you have passed your flight test, you will be submitting your ops manual to the CAA for approval, right up until this week  there has been a grey area depending on which NQE you trained with, that you put a place holder in your ops manual that read ‘insurance document will go here on PfCO being granted’.  Some NQE’s would not let you submit your ops manual unless the insurance was submitted and in my experience this even varied from instructor to instructor within the companies.

The CAA have ruled you must provide your insurance certificate with your ops manual for submission even if this is your initial application which means for at least 28 working days you are paying for insurance.  You could argue although you can’t commercially operate at least your drone will be insured whilst you are practicing manoeuvres and safety drills.

My personal point to anyone feeling disgruntled do you feel your drone business will be taking bookings from the second your PfCO comes in? My experience would be no, I have been qualified and with permission for over 12 months and I am only just getting interest on the scale I imagined and that is approximately two to three bookings a month. This is not the cash cow that may have been lead to believe, the industry in drone pilot heavy, not as much work out there yet as your training company may have lead you to believe.  So there has been plenty of times where my drones have sat insured and not working. It is the stark reality of joining a new industry.

Insurance for the flight test

When I did my flight test, I joined the British Model Flying Association and paid £70 if I remember correctly to join and have insurance this covered me for my flight test with resource group. It then took me a long time to write my operations manual.  If you are already a member of the BMFA then it may be worth whilst checking with them and your training company if the insurance is valid for your flight test.  Please note you can not operate commercially with this insurance.

You can now purchase flight test insurance from  Moonrock  Insurance and Coverdrone and this may be significantly cheaper.

Level of insurance

I fly a lot for TV production companies and they vary in requiring £1 million and £5 million public liability (PL).  If you fly for The National Trust they may request that you have £10 million pounds PL. Also some construction companies and sites ask for £10 as standard.  So I started with £5 million pound PL but it took 6 months of having my permissions in place to fly for a TV production company, so I could have saved money by having £1M PL and then increased this when I needed it.

Choosing your insurance provider

When I started flying there was only one company offering insurance policies and now a quick google search will bring up a number of them.  They say you never know how good your insurance company is until you have to make a claim and hopefully you’ll never find out.  I was insured by Coverdrone last year and now I have moved to Moonrock and what I would say is that it was features of the policy that made me make a move to change.   The people at both companies are very helpful and senior people in the companies are hands on to chat to.   As the industry grows, I am sure more insurance providers will join the market but I feel happy sometimes to go with an established insurance provider even if it costs a bit more.

Shopping around

As with car insurance it is up to you to weigh up what you is right for you and your drone business. What level of cover do you need? What the policy offers you.  Can you add a temporary drone for a day to your insurance with no extra cost? Can you increase your policy for the rest of your insurance term should you find yourself operating in a different industry.

Hobby flyer insurance

If you are a hobby flyer I would still recommend on public liability insurance and that can be obtained again another google check will mean that you can weigh up your options. You will also be able to get drone insurance as a hobby flyer which could safe guard your investment.

Hopefully I won’t have to ever claim on my insurance ! Turn around and touch wood!

Happy Safe flying this fine day

The Drone Lass






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