Drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Insurance in South Africa

Drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely-Piloted Aircraft (RPA), have become a common phenomenon for the military, meteorologists as well as hobbyists, with the latter category quickly seeing these toys become incorporated into the lifestyles of many South Africans

Drone/UAV Insurance - Taking photos/video, have invasion of privacy concerns
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Drone or UAV Insurance - Know & understand policy terms & conditions
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Drone hobbyists & enthusiasts should familiarise themselves with the regulations as well as liabilities, for operating drones in South Africa – especially now that South African Civil Aviation Authority has fine-tuned the regulations governing the use of Remotely-Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

Although drones (unmanned aircraft) are still relatively new in South Africa, the commercial applications for drones in United States have shown astronomical growth.

Drone prices can vary from as little as R1,000-00 for a “toy” version, up to as high as R100,000-00 plus for the high-end drones - meaning that owners could suffer substantial financial losses, if something goes wrong.

If the drone is used as a hobby only, then far less restrictions, licensing and liabilities may apply. In this instance, most local insurers may offer cover for the drone under the Household Contents insurance section for suitable drone hobby users. However, some restrictions, exclusions and liability limitations may apply. Ask your broker to assist you in better understanding your policy wording and conditions - also with regards to insurance cover for liabilities & risk factors involved when flying a drone (eg. collision with 3rd party property, collision with a person causing injury or death and the collision with airborne objects). Removing the drone from the physical address stated on your policy, may also require extra cover considerations.
Operating your drone as a Hobby?
The following rules may apply as a guideline prescribed by the South African Civil Aviation Authorities (SACAA or CAA). This applies to all Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA’s):
  • Obtaining your Remote Pilot’s License (RPL) would be a step in the right direction, as most insurers would also require this license to cover you whilst your drone is in flight;
  • You may not fly the drone whilst intoxicated;
  • Only fly the drone during daytime;
  • Only fly the drone when the weather is good and clear;
  • Take note of some of the class and weight restrictions that may apply;
  • If you are a hobby drone pilot taking pictures/photos purely for fun or personal use, remember that invasion of privacy remains a concern - obtain people’s consent prior to video recording or flight over the area that does not belong to you;
  • You may not fly the drone within 50 meters of public roads, persons or property (buildings);
  • You may not fly within a 10km radius of airstrips or airports - also keep away from restricted, prohibited and controlled airspace.
Operating your drone in a Commercial or Business Capacity?
If you are going to use your drone in a business or commercial enterprise, then a whole new set of rules and circumstances may apply. If used in this manner, the drone must be registered and you must become a qualified drone pilot – to name just a few requirements.
The Remote Pilot’s License (RPL), entails the following as a guideline:
  • Passing of both theory and practical exams;
  • Minimum age 18 and over;
  • Proficient in English;
  • Medical examination;
  • Radio usage license.
Operations of commercial drones, are governed by the South African Civil Aviation authorities (SACAA or CAA) and all RPL’s are bound to such rules and regulations.

To qualify for commercial applications of the drone, you may also be required to obtain your Air Service License (ASL), as well as your Remote Officers Certificate (ROC) from the SACAA.

There are a few leading insurers doing Drone (or UAV) Insurance in South Africa. This is a specialist insurance area and one should consider all the options available.

These options may be confusing...

In fact, the smartest thing you can do is -- Get a specialist broker to do it for you!
Also note the important considerations with Drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Insurance, when fully licensed for Commercial or Business applications:
  • Your cover options may include replace, repair, accidental loss or damage;
  • Spares, ground stations, limited related medical expenses, disappearance, hull (for high risk areas) payload, cover for the Research & Development (R&D) phase and some others;
  • Third party liability – check your cover limits and make sure it is adequate, given your commercial application and exposure;
  • Does the Drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Insurance product compensate you where you are liable for fatalities, bodily injuries and property?
  • Is product liability included where you may be held liable in conjunction with the product? Is legal cover included to fund your legal defence, in the event of you being held liable?
  • Some products also allow you to insure against data loss as collected by your drone.

Drone/UAV Insurance - Are you a qualified drone pilot?
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