There are numerous models of drones that are used by amateur pilots: from small models weighing one kilo to massive aircraft that go well over five kilos . Regardless of size , the drones – also known as Quadro or Multicopter – can be equipped with various accessories such as a video or photo camera. However, since their use involves various dangers, amateur pilots need special insurance cover . When using cameras, privacy issues also play an important role. finanzen.de has at Dr. med. Volker Eckert of the German Model Flyer Association (DMFV) and the specialist lawyer for IT law Michael Terhaag asked what rights and obligations consumers have and how it stands for the insurance protection.
How are hobby drones and their “pilots” insured?
Most private liability insurance companies do not include model airplanes, which include privately used drones, in their protection. But “for airplanes there is a statutory compulsory insurance. The liability insurance exists in the form of a holder liability insurance for aircraft models, “said Eckert. The DMFV offers corresponding insurance protection through membership. “Cameras for drones are also insured.” But this protection only applies to European model airfields. Who wants to enjoy worldwide protection and also wants to fly outside of club grounds, needs additional insurance, which is also offered for example by the DMFV. Good to know: Such extra insurance is not needed if the model weighs less than 1,000 grams .
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This damage does not cover liability insurance
According to Eckert, “most privately used copters fall into the range easy and slow .” But that does not mean that they can do no damage. “Anyone who has appropriate insurance coverage is insured against damage to third parties. This also includes damage caused by ‘force majeure’ – when a flight model crashes through a gust of wind. However, the damage to the operated model is not insured . “
However, the protection is never “when the pilot acts intentionally” or violates laws . In general, “pilots in Germany need an official permit to operate aircraft models with a take-off weight of more than 5 kg. In addition, combustion models (powered equipment) weighing more than 5 kg must be operated at a distance of more than 1.5 km from the outskirts . “
Some models – for example, sailors and electric models under 5 kg – can fly in residential areas with only a few restrictions . Every recreational pilot is responsible for not endangering, disturbing, or otherwise harassing anyone. “When flying on foreign land, the owner or tenant must be asked for his consent . The statutory provisions must be observed. “Eckert continues.
Liability insurance also independent of a model flying club
Although most liability insurance excludes damage to model airplanes and drones . But that is not the case for all insurers. Interested parties should therefore inform themselves with their provider exactly.
Beware of no-fly zones: ignorance does not protect against punishment
Drones, like all other model airplanes, are not allowed to fly into no-fly zones . “It is the responsibility of the pilot of a model to inquire whether, when and where he may operate his model.” Anyone who is unsure, can ask the German air traffic control. There are also special maps showing no-fly zones. Insurance companies point out that “the insurance cover only exists in full if the statutory provisions are adhered to, ” explains Eckert.
No-fly zone: These are the legal consequences
Michael Terhaag, who deals mainly with the topic of data protection and privacy rights, adds to the issue of no-fly zones that the typical no-fly zones include, for example, hospitals, military facilities and crowds (demos, concerts) . “You should not be flown over, nor filmed or photographed.” The specialist advises also advised against flying over highways. On the other hand, you can easily raise your drone over gardens, parks, and public spaces, and also film and photograph there .
Whether damage occurs or not: “Anyone who gets into a no-fly zone with his drone and gets caught in spite of his efforts must, in most cases, expect a fine, ” says Terhaag. However, this is very different in height. It depends primarily on whether a “serious effort” by the pilot is shown to behave properly. “For example, anyone who accidentally gets into a no-fly zone with a small drone usually gets away with a warning. However, anyone who makes a 20 kg drone fly over a demonstration has not informed himself well enough, “explains Terhaag in an interview.
Drones and privacy: Where are video recordings and photos allowed?
Who wants to take an aerial photo with a drone is limited in its radius and its possibilities over some guidelines . In general, ” everyone has the right to their own image, ” explains Terhaag. Who makes targeted pictures or recordings of third parties acts unlawful. “In such cases, no hobby pilot is protected by his liability insurance for claims for damages or claims for damages.” On the other hand, this looks different when the hobby pilot can prove that the person being photographed merely appears as an “accessory” – not as the actual reason for the shots.
“Pork heavy and crazy dangerous”: These are possible damage by drones
According to the lawyer, drones, depending on their weight, size and functions , can cause serious personal injury and property damage. “In addition, it is possible to seriously violate applicable law.” For example, against the right to their own image. “A drone can be used to take pictures of people in the neighboring garden or in an outdoor swimming pool . This is illegal . If pilots are detected in unauthorized shooting, the victims have the right to withhold the drone and delete the footage. Legal consequences follow depending on the situation. There are really far-reaching consequences for pilots who illegally film or photograph other people and publish the material – for example on Facebook. “