Today is the LAST day free registration of drones is available with the federal government.  Starting December 21, 2015, the FAA made it mandatory that all owners of small drones register their machines with the federal government so that authorities will be able to more easily investigate crashes and illegal flights.  Only the smallest toy drones (weighing less than 250 grams or .55 pounds) will be exempt from the registry.  Failure to register could result in civil and criminal penalties.

Registration is good for three years and may apply to multiple drones owned in a household.  Registration after January 19, 2016 will cost $5.  This registration doesn’t apply to drones operated for hire, which must already be registered with the government. Go to www.faa.gov/uas/registration to register any owned drones.  The owner must be at least 13 years old to register, or else someone who is over 13 years old must register it for them.

There are few homeowner carriers willing to extend coverage for damage from a drone.  With those few that do, property damage to others may be covered but a first party claim (damage to the insured’s own property) would not be covered.

One of the only insurance policies designed to cover hobbyist drone pilots comes from membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which charges adults around $75 per year.  This policy offers $2.5 million in personal liability coverage and $25,000 medical coverage through Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance, part of ACE group.  Should you wish to purchase this type of policy go to https://www.modelaircraft.org/joinnew.aspx.

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