Do I need liability insurance for my drone?

Transport Canada created new rules in November 2014 that determine whether you need permission to fly an unmanned aircraft.

Posted on February 18, 2015 | Updated on November 28, 2023

For example, if you use the drone for recreational purposes, and it weighs less than 35kg, you do not need permission from Transport Canada. If it weighs more than 35kg, you must apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate. There are similar requirements if the drone is used for work or research. In some cases, you do not need permission to operate the drone if you meet certain “exemptions” such as obtaining permission from property owners and flying the drone during daylight and in good weather.

Regardless of the weight or use of the drone, Transport Canada requires you to carry a minimum of $100,000 liability insurance. This can be an issue if you are using the drone for recreational purposes because insurance companies will not offer limits that low. The premium needed by the insurance company to cover expenses, claims, and profits would be far more than an individual would be willing to pay for occasional drone operations. You can join an association such as a model UAV club that has third-party insurance coverage for each member. However, you have to be aware of the rules that require you to fly with a chartered club and at sanctioned events. Otherwise, there may be no coverage. You also have to factor in the association membership fee.

If you are using the drone for commercial purposes, you can purchase a $500,000 liability or $1,000,000 liability. Below are premium indications for aerial photography including inspection (for realtors, property owners, etc) in Canada using a small UAV such as the DJI Phantom 2.

$500,000 liability ($500 deductible) – Annual Premium $770.00 plus taxes
$1,000,000 liability ($500 deductible) – Annual Premium $990.00 plus taxes

Coverage such as fire and theft can be purchased as well at an additional premium. However, the deductible is $1,000 and may not be worth it when a drone can be purchased for as little as $500.

You can read all of the requirements for flying unmanned aircraft at the Transport Canada website.

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