January 27th, 2016
There was a new product on exhibit at the Toronto Boat Show this year that has nothing to do with boats. They go by many different names including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), drones, and quadcopters.
Quadcopters in an assortment of sizes made their debut this year and judging from the brisk sales they are a hit with boaters. The new models offer amazing video quality and some can even track moving targets like boats, bicycles, motorcycles and runners. They are amazing machines but like any new technology they also create new problems.
There have been several incident over the last year where drone have crashed causing property damage and serious injury to innocent victims. The latest was a near miss when a TV drone crashed onto a professional ski race. I have no doubt boaters will see and use drones extensively so let’s consider the insurance implications.
When it is stored on the boat your drone would be classified as personal effects so it would be covered for damage due to theft, fire, or other accidental coverage provided for personal effects ( read your policy wording for actual coverage and limits).
As soon as it flies off the deck of your boat it is a separate aerial vehicle and there is no coverage for property damage or liability for damage it may cause to other people or property.
If you damage your own boat by accident that may be covered but not for the loss or damage of the drone itself. If you have kids using drones to film water skiing , tubing or wakeboarding there is a real potential for injury so be extra careful .
Until Transport Canada introduces new regulations for drones the unwritten laws of common sense apply for private operators that are not using the drone for business use.
- Fly during daylight and in good weather
- Always keep your aircraft in sight
- Respect the privacy of others
- Don’t fly close to airports, in populated areas, near moving vehicles, or higher than 90 metres
If you have questions about insurance issues regarding drones or boat insurance contact me at your convenience.
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