If good fences make good neighbours, insurance does too for drone operators. Every drone operator knows that flights don’t always go as planned, and when your drone breaks a window or lands on Chiyangwa’s new Mercedes, you may need to make amends. That’s why the new Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) drone regulations now require a drone operator to have third party insurance to fly their ‘aircraft’. As written in the newly released regulations;
A remotely piloted aircraft system operator certificate holder shall hold a third party insurance cover for the operations at all times.
What Drone Insurance is and why its necessary
Drone insurance provides drone operators protection against accidental injuries or damage inflicted by their drone. As in this case, drone insurance primarily covers third-party liability claims for operators. Despite the increase in the cost of operating a drone with this third-party insurance, its needful to have one.
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Picture this; while on a job, you get distracted and crash your drone into powerlines. Your accident causes power loss to hundreds and the debris from your destroyed drone narrowly misses injuring a small child who was watching you work. Sounds pretty scary right? Bad enough to not only destroy your reputation as a drone operator but possibly lead to huge legal bills and maybe even fines or jail time. This is no hypothetical scare story. This actually happened in Los Angeles in 2015.
The simple fact is that even the most skilled professionals in the world occasionally make mistakes, and equipment failure can happen to anyone. If you want to avoid the possibility of hefty legal fees, the revocation of your license by CAAZ and imprisonment, you need drone insurance.
Zimbabwe is no different
Besides you were perhaps thinking that CAAZ wants to make it as much hard as they can to dissuade people to use drones by requiring operators to have insurance. But no, this requirement is the standard practice in many countries that have formally opened up to the use of drones.
Where the new regulations haven’t been clear is whether the insurance requirement is for everyone, personal or business drone operators, to have one. The task I have set upon myself is to enquire from CAAZ about whether the insurance requirement is a blanket requirement or not. In other countries like the US, if you are only using your drone for personal use and not business use, there is no current obligation to insure your drone. However, based on the number of accidents that seem to happen with drones, drone operators are always recommended to protect themselves with liability insurance.
Insurance companies find new revenue streams
Drones have in fact had a positive externality for Zimbabwe’s insurance companies as they can now count drone operators as a source of new revenue streams. The question drone operators will have is how much will they pay to be insured for their drone operations. Or rather, whether it is affordable at all. Besides this, I’m curious to know how insurance companies collect premiums for drone operators- whether drone operators will pay monthly, annual subscriptions or on-demand subscriptions.
I presume you already know what monthly or annual subscriptions, it is the on-demand model that you may not have heard about. On-demand subscriptions are insurance subscriptions that are paid every time a drone operator flys their drone. Thus when you want to fly your drone that’s when you pay for an insurance subscription. For instance, if you fly your drone 100 times a year, you’d have paid 100 insurance subscriptions.
The on-demand model is perfect, as it lowers costs, for those who don’t have a predefined schedule to fly their drone or those who rarely fly their drones. Whilst the annual model is preferable, as it lowers costs, for those who fly their drones more often. Either way, you prefer to get your drone operations insured, the bottom line is to make sure to fly your drone only if you are insured.