Good luck getting drone insurance in South Africa.
Business Insider South Africa applied for in-flight cover with four companies. They all turned us down. A fifth company was willing to talk – if the drone was officially registered.
They cited: happy-go-lucky hobbyists who end up crashing their drones into animals, buildings and people; operators breaking the rules; and the remote nature of the technology as reasons it is too risky to insure drones.
While it is not illegal to fly a drone privately, hobbyists remain uneducated of the rules and regulations set by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.
And insurance companies worry about a “catastrophic disaster” if a drone collides with a plane or helicopter.
The rules that are supposed to avoid such a disaster, and lesser accidents – and that are often broken, are:
Drones used for commercial purposes need to be operated by a pilot with a remote pilot licence (RPL) under a company with a remote operating certificate (ROC).
Drones also can’t be flown 10 kilometers from an airport.
Failing to follow the rules could lead to fines of up R50,000 or a 10-year prison sentences, according to the SACAA.
These videos show why insurance companies don’t want to cover the expensive hobby.
Businessman David Perel found our first hand after a drone smashed through his window and hit his head.
Even with obstacle sensors, drones struggle to pick up things like electrical wires and branches. Drones can lose signal as well as run out of battery. Become familiar with its max flight distance and keep an eye on signal areas. A common mistake of beginner hobbyists is to forget to tag its GPS location and your drone ends up going for a swim. Before you fly, you should be familiar with the controls of your drone. There are even simulators to practice.