“Buy by the flight, not by the year…”
Verifly, which says it is the first company to offer on-demand drone liability insurance, has launched its services in 40 states.
Starting at $10/hour through an iOS or Android app, Verifly’s model offers $1 million in liability coverage and $10,000 in invasion of privacy coverage. The company says it is suited for both recreational and commercial unmanned
The app uses geospatial mapping to base the flying risks on the location and current conditions of the site of the drone operator. The policies are underwritten by Global Aerospace Inc., which Verifly says has been providing aviation insurance for more than 90 years.
At first blush you would be excused for thinking that the mighty are beginning to fall – with disintermediation dead ahead, the power of the pen goes to a start-up with no insurance experience.
But behold the fine print of the underwriter. The rate varies with the location and environmental conditions like wind speed. Nothing on the site about the maximum hourly rate, a potential gotcha. [UPDATE I have learned that if all the variables align against you the max is $35/hr. Still not bad since a lot can get done in an hour – and the smart dronepreneur is rebilling the client for the cover.] Of course if you are too close to an airport, heliport or seaport you can’t get cover at any price. The cover is for 1/4 mile around you which seems reasonable – that’s about VLOS. Since you agree to turn over your flight data in the event of a case you had best keep track of your drone. And it’s limited to drones under 15lbs. which is the vast majority of the market and gets rid of the heavy stuff which are the worst potential offenders.
The $1M is a limit for both property damage and bodily injury which could be short. And I for one don’t have a handle on the invasion of privacy number except to say that it seems extremely low.
As for the map function:
The data presented by the Verifly app should not be relied upon for flight planning purposes. It is presented “as is” with no representations.
UPDATE I had a chance to catch up with Global Aerospace SVP Chris Proudlove who oversees all things drone (among too many other things) for the company. He pointed out something that I had missed, that Verifly is also targeting the recreational flyer – something that had eluded me.
This story in PetaPixel makes a nice case for why a recreational user/photographer might want to buy cover once in a while.
The insurance covers any drone under 15lbs in case of injury to people, property damage, and invasion of privacy issues; it does not cover the drone itself or any accessories you’re using.
So if you crash the drone in the middle of nowhere and nobody or nothing is hurt, you’re just as out of luck as you were before. If, however, you intend to fly (legally) over someone or something that could potentially be damaged if you lose control, you may want to consider it.
The Verifly site makes a subtle but important point that positions them well against CBO cover such as that offered by the AMA:
In addition, the policies we arrange are “primary” policies, unlike the “excess” policies of most RC clubs, giving you assurance that you will not have to attempt to claim on your other insurance policies. You will also have access to specialized aviation insurance lawyers to help defend your claim.