With the popularity of non-commercial drones increasing exponentially it is interesting to consider how the insurance market is developing to meet the challenges of these new toys!

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) states that “Unmanned aircraft can be broken down into two main groups. Those used for sport and recreation are called model aircraft, while any used for commercial purposes are called remotely piloted aircraft

The definition of model aircraft is further refined to exclude balloons and kites and craft with an overall gross weight inclusive of fuel and equipment more than 25kg where further rules and regulations apply.

Operators of drones/model aircraft are required to comply with all the instructions and restrictions issued as part of the product documentation which should include prohibited flight:

  • Closer than 30m to third party property without explicit permission
  • Over populated areas
  • Within a radius of 5.5kms of any aerodrome or similar area
  • After daylight hours and always in line of sight
  • Above 400ft

Using a model aircraft for any form of commercial gain including aerial photography for reward requires the operator to obtain certification from CASA and further rules/regulations apply.

Whilst the policy wordings vary from product to product domestic contents insurance typically provides third party liability in the following manner.If this policy covers your contents and the home is your primary residence, we insure you and any member of your family against any claim for compensation or expense which you or the member of your family become legally liable to pay for the death of or bodily injury to any person and /or the loss of or damage to property arising from an occurrence during the period of insurance anywhere in the world. However we do not insure you or your family against liabilities arising from the ownership, custody. or use of any aerial device or aircraft (except model aircraft or toy kites).

It is clear from this that the exclusion write back is key to avoiding dispute or in the worst case a denial of coverage arising out of the use of “Aircraft”.  A review of a number of popular Home and Contents policies is tabled below and you will see that there are a number of variations regarding the write back (if any):

Insurer ExclusionWrite Back
Direct Insurers  
AAMI – Home Contents Insurance
A01464 11/02/14A
AircraftRemote controlled model or toy aircraft with a wingspan up 1.5 metres
Budget Direct – Home and Contents
0513a 28/5/2013
Coles Home InsuranceCOLPDS95002_1114 1/11/2014AircraftModel aircraft with a wingspan less than 1.5 metres
YOUI – Home Insurance
Youi-Home_0814 8/08/2014
AircraftRemote controlled toy
Broker Distribution  
Allianz – Classic Home
POLO138BA_1014 18/10/2014
AircraftModel aeroplane or toy kite
Calliden – Elite Care
G1012_0115 1/1/20105
Aircraft (includes model aircraft)None
CGU – AD Home Insurance
AircraftModel or toy aircraft
Chubb – Masterpiece
0414 21/04/2014
QBE – Essentials
Aerial device or aircraftModel aircraft or toy kites
Vero – Secure Home Elite
V3436_0114E 31/01/2014
AircraftRemote controlled model or toy aircraft with a wingspan up 1.5 metres

We are not suggesting that insurers without any specific write back would necessarily apply the broader definition of Aircraft (i.e. a machine capable of flight) but as always it highlights the importance of good advice and paying attention to the fine print!

This article is not intended to give insurance advice and it should be noted that rules and regulations may vary from place to place regarding the use of model aircraft. Always check the insurance policy and if in doubt refer to your broker for guidance.

For further information on our Policy Drafting and Review services please contact:
Steve Manning | Call 1300 LMI GROUP | steve.manning@lmigroup.com | www.lmigroup.com