Why Do I Need Insurance? Get the Alternative to AMA

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

- Justin Haggerty, IDRA President & CEO

Hello everyone. Today, I would like to speak with you about drone insurance. I know what you are thinking, why do I need insurance? "I'm just a hobbyist, just a recreational pilot flying for fun. Why do I need insurance?"

I'll tell you why.

You can't afford to take the risk of not having liability insurance. You can't afford to lose everything you've worked hard for, because of an accident, where you caused property damage or, God forbid, bodily harm. As a recreational or individual, commercial operator, you don't have the corporate financial means to fight big legal battles.

Drone Accidents: 5 Worst Case Scenarios - FindLaw

Drone Lawsuits & Litigation Database (2018) - Rupprecht Law P.A.

Unfortunately, major insurance agencies understand your vulnerabilities and the increasing demand for insurance, especially as more countries begin to require operators to carry a liability policy. Not only are these policies extremely expensive, in comparison to your auto-insurance, their underwriters don't properly write the policies to apply to unmanned systems and operators. In many ways, companies are over charging you for policies that may not fully cover your liabilities.

Drone Insurance Guide - UAV Coach

And, don't expect your homeowners insurance to cover your liabilities from operating an unmanned aircraft. Most homeowners, or umbrella policies, have a small ceiling, often $15,000, to cover liabilities caused by remote controlled aircraft. This may be a rude awakening if you ever got into an accident with your drone and caused property damage or bodily harm.

Does your homeowners/renters policy cover drones? - San Francisco Chronicle

The Academy for Model Aeronautics (AMA) recognized the issues with homeowners insurance, and other policies, using them to pave the ground for their secondary insurance. It's a shame that one of the largest organizations, for unmanned aircraft, wouldn't give primary coverage. Although, AMA has a good price and includes membership perks, the organization does not protect you everywhere. In the legal language, liabilities are not covered, at the full amount of $2.5 million, unless the pilot is operating on an AMA sanctioned field or national flying site. AMA officials fail to mention this publicly, causing many members to devoutly and wrongly defend the organization in this area. To receive the full protection, under AMA, a pilot must be a member of an AMA Chartered Club and only operate on the club's sanctioned field. For a pilot to operate in locations of their choosing, without a club, he or she falls under the Park Pilot program.

Park Pilot Frequently Asked Questions - AMA

For Park Pilot members, the protection is cheaper and they can fly in local parks, but are only covered for $500,000 per liability, property damage and bodily harm. This is a huge unknown vulnerability with using AMA.

2018 Insurance Summary | The Facts About AMA's Insurance Benefits For Individual Members - Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)

Many pilots, who have the $2.5 million coverage and not the Park Pilot membership, think they can operate anywhere. AMA chooses to not loudly announce this because the leadership knows the organization would lose members. So, in short, AMA places the information on the website, in hard to find locations, and allows you, the pilot, to succumb to misunderstandings. The problem is that those misunderstandings can leave you at a great risk.

There are also several discrepancies with the aircraft specifications and terminologies, under coverage by the AMA, and what is represented by the community and operators. In accordance to the legal language of AMA documents and certificates of insurance (COI), the organization can only cover the "modeling activities of model aircraft, rockets, cars, and boats."

2018 Insurance Summary | The Facts About AMA's Insurance Benefits For Individual Members - Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)

What operators, and the general public, refer to as "drones" and the vast majority of unmanned systems, are not models of any existing aircraft. In fact, drones are actual aircraft, used for many different purposes, recreations, and professions. Therefore, under these policies and the written language of the organization, drones are not covered by the AMA. Any good lawyer can challenge this in court.

It is concerning to see so many pilots be under such vulnerability. I have attended many drone and unmanned conferences where AMA officials refused to call the aircraft, which is claimed to be covered by the AMA, drones or UAV/UAS. The policies of the AMA were not made for our community or industry. Operators deserve an alternative.

AMA, because of their partnership with MultiGP, attempts to enforce a monopoly on our sport and community. I hope this concerns you as a pilot, after digesting the above information. Race organizers are forced to work with and adhere to the rules of AMA, for each race, and pilots are required to carry an AMA membership with insurance.

Not only is that wrong, it is a bad business decision to accept only one company's policy. Yes, pilots and/or events should be required to carry liability insurance, but not be pressured to work with a single company, especially one that was built for model aircraft and not drones. AMA is great for model aircraft and small, rural events, fun-flys, and training courses, but not for the international drone community and the growing motorsport of drone racing.

IDRA's primary liability insurance, for recreational and commercial drone operators, is a great alternative to the expensive policies of big insurance agencies and the risky secondary insurance of AMA.

International Drone Racing Association Simplifies Drone Insurance Policy - Insurance Journal

Our primary policy, with $1 million per liability and no deductibles, will cover you 24/7 and 365 days a year, with worldwide coverage. As long as you comply with IDRA's safety manual and the regulations of your operational area, you are protected to operate anywhere, albeit over people, roads, etc. IDRA is a worldwide organization and it was crucial to cover our members around the world. To us, it made sense. For the IDRA, our biggest goal is to grow the international drone community and, not only integrate the first-person-view (FPV) community with the larger drone market, but also introduce new people to the sport and unmanned technologies.

The Biggest Name in Drone Racing is Collaborating on Commercial Training - dronelife

The IDRA team wanted to help protect the community, while working to foster its growth. Even though we sell insurance to pilots and events, IDRA doesn't require it for our races. We are focused more on growing the sport than making quick profits.

Register Now - IDRA Drone Insurance

For $22 a month, you can register now and become an IDRA member with liability insurance. If your policy isn't ready for renewal, I still recommend seeking additional coverage, because of the information I provided earlier. Like I said in my opening statement, you can't afford to take the risk of not being properly covered for potential liabilities from operating drones and unmanned aircraft.

Nevertheless, SUBSCRIBE to our email list to remain updated on news around IDRA's 2018 Drone Racing Series, 2018 Challengers Cup, and discounts with our partners and insurance services.

I look forward to helping protect your ability to safely operate drones recreationally and commercially. As always, stay safe, have fun, and I'll see you at the next race.

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