Drone racing enthusiasts descended on Governors Island in New York last weekend for the National Drone Racing Championships, one of many events competing for viewer attention in an emerging sport. During time trials on Saturday, pilots stood at the edge of the course, eyes fixed on the LED lights and neon propellers of the custom-rig quad-copters whizzing by, trading notes on battery life. Every once in a while, a drone would careen out of control.
For Jay Bregman, cofounder and CEO of Verifly, events like the championship are a reminder that this new industry needs a better way to manage risk. “What happens when they start crashing?” he asks.
Today Bregman and his team launched their on-demand insurance solution for pilots flying drones that weigh less than 15 pounds. Via mobile app, Verifly offers insurance by the hour, priced to reflect hazards in the pilot’s vicinity. Coverage starts at $10 per hour, and rises based on flying conditions, like wind speed, and nearby landmarks, like schools and stadiums. If the drone crashes, Verifly covers up to $1,000,000 of injury to people and property, in addition to $10,000 for invasion of privacy.
“There’s no approval process like in traditional insurance,” Bregman says. Instead, the app computes pricing in real time.
Verifly expects to attract both recreational and commercial pilots. According to the company, only one in five commercial drone pilots flies with insurance.
[Photo: Flickr user Basheer Tome]