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Specialized Personal Liability Coverage and the Pursuit of Happiness
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are three of our unalienable rights according to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Sadly, the right to the pursuit of happiness can cost you your financial well-being. It all depends on the gaps in your liability insurance coverage.
If your idea of happiness is enjoying certain types of hobbies, you may want to look more closely at the fine print of your liability coverage for any possibility that your activity can get you sued. This may be the case if your hobby has any dangers associated with it, or attracts frequent visitors into your home, or involves advising others, or involves equipment that’s potentially dangerous to other people.
An example of such a hobby is unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones. Drones can potentially injure people and damage property. Normally, your homeowner’s policy would cover liabilities resulting from building and flying model airplanes as it was done long before drone recreational use became popular.
However, drones have a tarnished reputation from the property damage, injuries, and invasion of privacy issues surrounding their use. They aren’t entirely what many insurers had in mind with their coverage of model airplanes or hobby aircraft. Even if drones aren’t explicitly excluded from a policy, the insurers may decide to deny coverage on the basis of how they define model airplanes.
One definition of a model airplane is that it does not carry people or cargo, that it remains within visual sight of its operator, and that it’s flown for recreational purposes. If a hobbyist is flying his drone beyond his line of sight via an installed camera, that may be sufficient for some insurers to deny the insured their liability coverage. This is a problem if someone is sued because he lost control of his drone and caused property damage or an injury. An injury that results in blindness or any disability that prevents someone from working will likely cause a lawsuit that incurs substantial damages.
Whether your pursuit of happiness is an engaging hobby, an individual sport, or adventure sport, don’t assume your home insurance has you covered. The only way to know for certain, other than finding out after the fact, is to carefully look for coverage gaps.