Insurance Company Denies Coverage for Drone Injury at Wedding

By Lisa Harig

An insurance company has asked for summary judgment in a case involving a wedding guest injured by a drone operated by a photographer at the event. In its filing with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company argues that the insurance policy for Hollycal Productions, Inc. and its owners includes as many as three exclusions for injuries related to aircraft and propelled objects.

The case, Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. v. Hollycal Productions, Inc. et al. (case no. 5:18-cv-00768-PA), arises from an October 2016 wedding photographed by Hollycal via a drone operated by a Hollycal employee. A wedding guest lost her eye when she collided with the drone at the wedding.

Philadelphia contends that it owes no duty to defend or indemnify Hollycal because its commercial general liability policy contains exclusions for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the "ownership, maintenance, use or entrustment to others of any aircraft" and the "ownership, operation, maintenance, use, loading or unloading of any flying craft or vehicle, including, but not limited to, any aircraft." In addition, the policy also excludes coverage for bodily injury, property damage, personal and advertising injury, or medical expenses "arising out of any object propelled, whether intentionally or unintentionally, into a crowd by or at the direction of a participant or insured."

This is a timely reminder for drone operators to evaluate existing insurance policies and exclusions – standard commercial general liability policies may not cover all of your activities. For individuals and companies hiring drone photographers or videographers, we suggest a careful review of not only the service contract but the insurance coverage provided by the photographer/drone operator.

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