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Government contract drones to spy on camper 

In Canada, the government of Alberta recently scrapped a plan calling external business proposals to bid on flying drones over Crown lands.

Discourse sparked over this news by the public due to their concerns about their privacy rights while camping. Nobody wants a camera flying around them, surveilling everything they do. However, the argument is that drones may also prevent forest fires. To what extent should the general public sacrifice their privacy allowing private contractors to monitor that? Who has the right to do so, and who should observe and restrain the contractor's action? What rights would the general public have to sue the private contractor for the intrusion of privacy?


What is a drone? 

A drone is like an airplane, except without the pilot, crew members, and passengers. In other words, it does not require human control as it is a flying robot. There are many types of drones, ranging from GPS drones to combat drones—I’m sure you can find the perfect drone to fit your niche! As a result, different drones are meant for different things, either for recreational or non-recreational usages. For instance, one may operate a drone due to personal interest, such as photography, whereas another person may use drones in the military for surveillance purposes. 

 

What is drone insurance?

Similar to car insurance, drones are also technology that requires financial protection. You can be the best driver in the world, but that does not necessarily mean accidents will not occur. The same reasoning can be applied to drones; you can be great at handling drones, but you never know when an accident might happen. Drone insurance will provide you with an extra layer of protection, as well as providing some peace of mind knowing that you can protect yourself from the unexpected. For instance, your drone might unexpectedly malfunction in midair and fall on someone’s head or property. If a similar situation occurs, you could be responsible for the damage you and your drone has caused. Therefore, you can protect both you and the community from bodily insurances and property damage with the right drone insurance policies.

 

What does drone insurance cover?

In general, drone insurance covers you for damage that occurs when your drone is involved in an accident. This includes any damages that your drone has, or against claims made by someone you might have caused a bodily injury to, or someone’s property your drone might have damaged by accident. Therefore, if your drone suddenly stops functioning correctly midair and it falls on someone’s rooftop, you will be covered for both the damage your drone has and for the claim from the house owner. 

Why would drone insurance be necessary?

Drones are dangerous when they are not used safely and responsibly. Last year, we had a client call us about his drone breaking his neighbour’s seventy thousand dollar car windshield. Fortunately for him, the situation was considered an accident. The drone had just suddenly stopped functioning while it was in the air, which caused it to free fall on his neighbour’s car. However, drone owners are not always lucky. A couple of months ago, we received a case where a client had attached the drone to some air balloons hoping that it would fly more smoothly—bad idea. The balloons on the drone got caught on a transmission tower, which ended up damaging the drone and causing a power outage in nearby communities. This was considered a negligent action, and therefore, we could not cover any damage involved in the accident. If you use your drone responsibly and safely, rest assured that you will be covered against big losses with drone insurance.

Is drone insurance mandatory if I wish to use drones?

Although you are not legally required to have drone insurance in Canada, it is highly recommended. Regardless of your intentions for drones and the purpose of your drone, there is still the possibility of accidents. Drone insurance is an easy and inexpensive way to protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances. However, if drones play a large part in your business and work life, consider drone insurance another essential business policy

What requirements would need to be met before obtaining drone insurance?

Before applying for drone insurance for a drone that weighs over 250 g but less than 25 kg, you will want to make sure you get a certificate proving you as an eligible drone pilot. This pilot certificate is to be renewed every two years. Users under 16 years and over 14 years can complete a basic test and candidates over 16 an advanced one. The Canada website also mentions other ways you can obtain your certificate. Regardless of how you receive it, the certificate will prove you have the skills to fly a drone safely and therefore. It will be easier for you to apply for drone insurance. 

 

How much drone insurance (coverage) is enough?

So how much damage do you consider a drone could cause? There is no such thing as too 

much drone insurance because the damages you can cause while flying drones are almost unpredictable. Take the case where the wind blows your drone and causes it to smash on a driving car resulting in a fatal accident. You will then most likely face a lawsuit that involves being liable for the damages caused and responsible for the lives that were lost. Cases, where fatalities are involved, will most likely include lawsuits for more than a million dollars, so if you have a liability limit of only 200,000, you will be in serious trouble. Liability insurance is like playing a lottery that no one wishes they win. Even though it's only a few dollars per week when incidents happen, you won't need to take money out of your pocket to fix the problem. Due to our experience with drone accidents, we will recommend you to seriously think about getting over 500,000 for liability accidents and no less than 400,000 for property insurance in the case you accidentally destroy property. 

 

What are the consequences of not having drone insurance? Is it illegal to use a drone without insurance?

If you decide not to get drone insurance, you are not covered for any damage to your drone against claims made by someone to who you might have caused a bodily injury to or to someone’s property your drone might have damaged by accident. Unfortunately, if your drone is involved in an accident and you do not have drone insurance, you could be responsible for large amounts of money in terms of legal fees. Although there is currently no legal requirement for having drone insurance in Canada, drones could potentially cause accidental damage at any time. There are many different types of insurance policies to choose from, so we are sure you can find the perfect one that suits your needs, whether it be for recreational or commercial use. 

 

Does the usage purpose of my drone affect the cost and coverage of my drone insurance?

The intended purpose you have for your drone will impact the cost and coverage of your drone insurance. Therefore, the way you use your drone will come into play when choosing the right drone insurance policy. If you intend to use your drone for commercial purposes, such as a professional video recording, you will most likely use the drone daily for extended periods. You will also probably be involved in taking more exciting videos, which also might involve riskier situations. These risk factors will be taken into account when deciding your minimum insurance coverages and your annual premiums.

 

Contrarily, if you only intend to use your drone for minimal recreational purposes, like flying your drone in your backyard, you might deem drone insurance as unnecessary. However, you should be aware that your drone might unintentionally damage your neighbour’s fence. In a case like this, drone insurance will come in handy to help cover for the damages caused. As a result, it is a smart idea to be more on the cautious side, rather than doing something you may regret later on that could’ve been prevented. 

What are some beneficial and ethical uses for a drone? What about the illegal uses of a drone?

Do you intend to use your drones for recreational purposes or do you have some other ideas in mind? When using a drone you should take into account that insurance might or might not be willing to cover you depending on the use that you give to your drone. Below are some beneficial/ethical uses of a drone as well as some uses considered illegal: 

Beneficial/ Ethical uses:

  • Take pictures as a hobby
  • Recording video with recreational purposes
  • Delivery (ex. Transporting food and goods)

Illegal:

  • Using drones to stalk people
  • Military autonomous drones (ex. They have the ability kill people on their own) 
  • Invading someone’s privacy (ex. Taking pictures or videos without consent, flying onto someone’s private property)
  • Smuggling drugs and weapons with drones
  • Terrorism (ex. Using drones to carry and drop bombs)
  • Flying too close to airports (ex. Possibility of flying into an airplane)

Wouldn’t using a drone to monitor people be an invasion of their privacy?

Could I get sued for it? Would my insurance cover the legal fees?

One type of drone insurance is “Personal and Advertising Insurance,” which protects you from harm caused by libel, slander, defamation, or even a violation of privacy rights. For example, if your drone accidentally flies over someone’s private property and takes some pictures and then gets sued by the property owner, you would be protected against the person’s claim. 

 

 

 

 

 

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