Drones are everywhere in Singapore. You might see aerial shots taken by drones by your favourite influencer, stumble upon Singapore’s first designated “drone estate“, or even watch them make a performance debut at last year’s National Day Parade.
Globally, the growing commercial drone market is expected to generate about $2.1 billion in global revenue by 2019, with drones being deployed for construction, media, security, humanitarian and research applications.
Beyond commercial purposes, advancement in drone technology has brought the size, cost, and complexity of drones down, making them much more accessible to regular Singaporeans. Today, you can buy a drone at your local camera or electronics store and get flying in minutes.
If you speak to any drone enthusiast, they will tell you that if you fly long enough, is not a matter if you will crash your drone, but when. Unlike motor insurance, where insurance is compulsory, drone insurance is not mandatory. But if you do want to insure your asset that costs hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars and protect yourself from liability if you damage other people’s property, what are your options? Let’s find out.
Extended Warranty Through Your Drone Manufacturer
Even though it doesn’t make financial sense to get extended warranties for regular appliances, its a different situation for drones. This is because if you’re going to fly often and make the most of your sunk cost of buying the drone, then the likelihood of crashing does not diminish over time.
DJI is by far the most popular drone manufacturer by market share among enthusiasts. If you have a DJI drone, you will get a standard warranty covers most drone parts for 6 months and up to 12 months at best. This warranty only covers manufacturing defects.
To cover accidental damage sustained from normal use, you can purchase DJI Care/DJI Care Refresh, depending on your drone model. It is a protection plan that covers repair costs and up to 2 replacements of your drone (for a small fee) for 12 months. Normal use include user error, water damage, collision, and signal interference.
Starting at $100+ for one year, it is something drone enthusiasts who fly with regularity should consider getting. Then again, if you’re not going to be flying with any regularity, then what are you doing buying a drone in the first place?
Drone Insurance From Insurers
Currently, property or public liability insurance policies in Singapore exclude coverage for aviation-related incidents, which is where drones fall under, unless they specifically negotiate for drone cover. Drones are a fast moving product category, and regulators and insurers are working hard to keep pace, though they are still many challenges with underwriting drone risks.
As a nascent category, there is still quite little data to assess risks. Furthermore, new drone models come out all the time, and it is challenging to assess the flight characteristics and risks of failure. Also, without proper licensing and training for recreational drone operators, the likelihood of accidents can vary wildly as well.
To cover costs and liability arising from operating a drone, there are specific drone-related insurance from general and specialty insurance providers. For example, AXA has a leisure drone insurance policy that you can apply to receive coverage for, starting at $160.50 per annum for up to $100,000 in public liability coverage and $2,500 in drone damage.
If you don’t want an annual policy, you can also go for pay-per-use insurance coverage for your drone, such as SkySure, which is offered by Infinium Robotics. By installing their software, you can choose which flight you want to get insurance coverage for. This is pretty neat, since you might not mind not having coverage if you’re flying in an open field with soft grass, but would probably want the peace of mind when flying near private property or if there are people nearby.
There is no doubt that as drones become more commonplace, insurers will bolster their offerings to help drone owners manage their risks.
In the meantime, investing in training and practice to become a better drone pilot is the best way to make sure you’ll be flying your drone for months to come and not need to ship your damaged drone to a service centre for repairs.
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