Enthusiasts of all ages – including children – whose recreational interests range from photography to scoping for hunting purposes are purchasing personal drones at a rapidly growing rate. Research indicates that the sales of drones around the world will increase more than tenfold to nearly $68 million by 2021.
Although commonly regarded as a fun toy, the reality is a drone is a sophisticated form of aircraft that assumes a larger responsibility than many hobbyists are aware of. Anyone is permitted to operate them, as long as the drone is under 35 kilograms. But before you run out and buy one and send it off into flight, familiarize yourself with the new guidelines. Here are the top 10 regulations you should keep in mind:
- Fly your drone below 90 metres above the ground.
- Keep your drone at least 30 metres away from vehicles, vessels and the public (if your drone weighs over 250 g and up to 1 kg).
- Keep your drone at least 75 metres away from vehicles, vessels and the public (if your drone weighs over 1 kg and up to 35 kg).
- Stay at least 5.5 km away from aerodromes (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft take off and land) and at least 1.8 km away from heliports or aerodromes used by helicopters only.
- Be sure to stay outside of controlled or restricted airspace.
- Stay at least 9 km away from a natural hazard or disaster area.
- Do not fly in areas where it could interfere with police or first responders.
- Fly your drone during the day and not in clouds.
- Keep your drone within your sight at all times and within 500 metres of yourself.
- Fly your personal drone only if it is clearly marked with your name, address and telephone number.
When one or more of these steps isn’t followed and you find yourself “caught” somewhere you shouldn’t be, insurance is critical because accidents do occur.
Whether a drone’s camera unintentionally infringes upon the privacy rights of a civilian, resulting in a lawsuit, or it crashes into an upscale antique store, causing significant damage, insurance is an essential precaution, and a hobbyist might consider additional liability or umbrella insurance beyond what’s covered in a drone manufacturer’s (DJI) or homeowner’s policy.
There are plenty of low-cost insurance options if you aren’t automatically covered for the liability of a recreational personal drone.
For hobbyists, the pursuit might be in the name of fun, but even drones intended for harmless amusement can have significant implications if an incident occurs. I invite you to contact your local HUB broker to make sure you’ve got the right coverage wherever you fly.
Barry Hogan is president of Gamble Hub International, an insurance broker with offices in Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham Kent and London Middlesex. Hub International has 18 offices located throughout Ontario and can be found on the web at www.hubinternational.com.