We’re all for young people reaching for the controls and learning to fly. We’re firm believers in drones in education, and the fact that the earlier children learn these skills the more advanced they’ll be by the time it comes to implementing them once they’re of working age.
However, we’re concerned that young hobbyists might not be covered in the same way as adults when it comes to drone insurance – here’s why:
Hobby Versus Commercial Drone Rules
Rules set out by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, and many other aviation authorities, have put age limits on commercial drone licenses. This is completely understandable: but what of the hobby drone pilots out there?
If someone under the age of the legal commercial pilot minimum age limit wants to fly a hobby drone, how can they qualify for drone insurance? While you don’t have to have insurance for hobby flying, you put yourself at risk if you’re not covered for huge expenses should an incident occur.
Young People And Insurance: The Catch-22
If the young person operating the drone isn’t covered by the insurance, it could invalidate any policy of the adult owner of the drone. This’ll leave the adult open to huge legal costs should a claim be made against the child in the case of an accident.
There aren’t any legal minimum age restrictions on drone flights for hobbyists in many countries. Even the FAA have a restriction of 16 years old. So while a juvenile caught driving a car on public highways would be considered in breach of the law, they may not be in breach of anything if they cause an accident with a drone.
There’s not often a minimum age for purchasing drones, so a child could buy a drone and fly it even without an adult’s knowledge. Who is responsible for costs if an accident occurs? Of course, automobile accidents are far more common, but the question does still remain.
In the UK, young drone enthusiasts can become a member of the British Model Flying Association and they’ll be covered by insurance available as part of their membership. Other countries may have similar organisations which cover minors on membership insurance.
Children Are Our (Drone Pilot) Future
We’re not saying children are incompetent pilots. In fact, their aptitude for learning makes them ideal candidates for taking on such new and exciting technology.
However, who is responsible for ensuring they know about all of the local, state, and national regulations laid out by authorities?
With such varied rules and regulations across the globe when it comes to drones, it’s difficult to find out where minors fit in. They can buy a drone, but may not be able to buy insurance to cover themselves.
So who becomes responsible? If an adult takes out a policy on their behalf, is it still valid for the minor to fly it? What if the child owns the UAV outright?
How do you think it should be handled? Should there be a minimum age for hobby drone pilots? Or should insurance policies cover all ages of operator?