In Terms of Insurance, a Drone’s the Same as a Dog—For Now

July 1, 2015 Updated: July 7, 2015

What happens if your drone accidentally hits someone?

As the number of drones flying in our skies continues the grow, so will the number of drone accidents. Just recently, a drone knocked a woman unconscious at the Pride Parade in Seattle on June 28.

Insurance companies, like state governments, currently treat drones as small airplanes, not as their own separate category of object. And small airplanes are covered by homeowner’s insurance, so if your drone hits someone, the insurance could cover the medical bills you’re liable for.

“Homeowner’s insurance has always covered radio controlled aircraft and so far, drones are falling under this classification,” Jonathan Evans, the CEO of Skyward, an information platform for drone owners, told Dronelife in February.


“But underwriters are beginning to rethink this policy,” Evans added.


Under current homeowner and renter insurance policies, there’s no difference between your dog biting a neighbor or your drone hitting a neighbor; it all falls under liability insurance.


In 2012, the insurance industry paid out $489 million in liability claims from dog bites.


As more data emerges on the different levels of risk associated with different types of drones—the Federal Aviation Agency predicted two years ago that as many as 10,000 drones could dot the skies by 2020—what insurance covers will likely become more nuanced. 


Homeowner’s insurance, for instance, differentiates between dog breeds. Owners of the 11 breeds of dogs most likely to bite people, including German shepherds and pit bulls, can be denied homeowner’s insurance by many companies because of the dog they own, and will have to find more expensive insurance elsewhere.


As with dogs, there are bound to be certain types of drones, and certain ways to use drones, like high-speed racing, that are more dangerous than others—differences in degrees of risk that the insurance companies will certainly take note of.