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Getting a New Drone for Christmas?


Generally, if you are using a drone for personal purposes and it injures someone or damages their property, your standard homeowner’s insurance policy would provide liability coverage up to the policy’s limits, said Mr. Hackett. (If you are using a drone to make money — even if it is a sideline, like photographing property for a real estate business — that would not typically be covered by a homeowner’s policy).


It is always wise, however, to check with your insurance carrier on the specifics of your policy, said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group. Some insurers may exclude drone-related incidents from their policies — and those that do not do so now may decide to eventually, as the number of drones taking to the skies increases and insurers learn more about the cost of drone-related claims.


“Generally speaking, we evaluate every claim on its own merit,” said Justin Herndon, a spokesman for Allstate, in an email. “We continue to follow the evolution of drones and its impact on our customers’ policies.”


It is also a good idea to reduce your risk by brushing up on drone operational and safety rules, Ms. Alderman said.


The F.A.A. requires that hobby users fly drones at or below 400 feet, and keep them within sight. The agency offers a safety video on its website.


Also, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which charters more than 2,500 community-based model-aviation clubs, works with other groups and the F.A.A. to promote safety guidelines and instruction through the Know Before You Fly initiative.


Simulation software that can help you learn to fly a drone on a home computer is available for about $100, said Chad Budreau, director of public relations and government affairs for the model aeronautics group.


Here are some questions and answers about drones:


What other insurance options are available?


One option for hobbyists: If you join the Academy of Model Aeronautics, you will receive group liability coverage as a benefit of membership. (Membership is $75 for adults, free for those under age 19.)


The academy’s insurance policy, issued by a specialty insurer, typically pays out after your homeowner’s policy is exhausted, and it provides $2.5 million in liability coverage for property damage or bodily injury.


What if my drone is lost or damaged?


Homeowner’s policies typically cover replacement of personal belongings, which would include a drone. But most policies have a deductible — say, $500. So unless you have a very expensive drone, it may not be worth filing a claim, Ms. Worters said.


Do I have to register my drone?


Federal rules now require recreational owners to register any drone — or “unmanned aircraft system,” in F.A.A. parlance — flown outdoors. Drones weighing a half-pound to 55 pounds can be registered online on the agency’s website; the fee is $5 per person, can be applied to as many drones as you own and is good for three years.


Failure to register a drone can be costly: The F.A.A. says generally it aims to educate operators, but can impose civil fines of up to $27,500, and criminal penalties can be much higher.