Just 18 months since take-off, Moonrock Drone Insurance – which specialises in drone insurance, underwritten by Hiscox, for commercial pilots – has safely landed its 1,000th insurance policy. For Moonrock’s CEO Simon Ritterband, the growing success of the product vindicates what he saw as a potential opportunity when his builder turned up with a drone. “I was working in property when I had a call from my builder who said I had some roofing issues with one of my buildings. He sent a drone up to take a closer look. That sparked my interest in drones so I went to a drone expo, caught the buzz and immediately signed up to get my commercial pilot’s licence.”
Limited insurance choice
Licence secured, Ritterband realised that the market to buy liability insurance – a legal requirement for all commercial drone pilots – was limited. “Existing policies could be 60 pages long and were largely adapted from more general aviation insurance covers,” says Ritterband. Realising that there was an opportunity to develop bespoke cover for the drone industry, Ritterband, together with his business partners, researched the insurance market before being directed to Hiscox by a broker.
Ros Bayley, Senior Development Underwriter at Hiscox, takes up the story: “A broker contact knows that Hiscox has an ‘off the wall’ appetite for different risks and wondered what our view was on insuring drones. I spent a few months understanding the sector and realised it could be a great opportunity for us.” That was in early 2015, and from November 2015 – when the go ahead was given to launch a new scheme for drones – to February 2016 when the scheme was launched, a new bespoke wording was developed together with an online click-to-buy platform.
Specific wording that addresses the needs of drone pilots was an important requirement. The Moonrock cover provides liability in case property or an individual is injured by the drone as well as cover for the drone itself. “The policy also includes cover such as breach of privacy – where a drone strays over private land – as well as cover for a cyber hack, and for war and terrorism risks,” says Bayley.
Part of the insurance challenge (and opportunity) are the wide number of sectors making the most of drone technology. These range from surveying, agriculture, and oil and gas exploration, to media companies, wedding photographers and extreme sports. “It’s a market that is growing exponentially,” adds Bayley, “there are new commercial uses for drones every day. We see a particular demand from estate agents taking pictures to help market their properties as well as media and marketing companies; for example we recently provided insurance for a company filming at a major sporting event.”
Given the huge potential size of the market, what are Moonrock’s plans for growth? “We hope to significantly increase our current market share over the next year,” says Ritterband. “And while most of our sales are direct to users, we also intend to introduce a raft of new options, giving the industry new and exciting ways to purchase our product.”
What about the drone insurance market for the home user? “At the moment,” says Ritterband, who advises the Government on drone best practice, “drone insurance is not a mandatory requirement for non-commercial purposes, but it’s something that most likely will change in the future, particularly for drones over a certain weight.”
In the meantime, for commercial drone pilots looking to buy insurance, Ritterband urges them to take care to read the small print of their policy and check they are covered for areas such as cover for the drone when in transit and not just when being flown.
To find out more about commercial drone insurance go to www.moonrockinsurance.com (external link)