The International Drone Racing Association says it held off on rolling out memberships until it could offer a significant perk to racers and event organizers. That perk, it turns out, is liability insurance.
Drone racers are getting a useful new benefit from the organization that’s trying to turn it into a professional sport.
The International Drone Racing Association, which last year signed a deal with ESPN to bring drone competitions to television, announced this week that it was launching liability insurance for the devices, a benefit that IDRA had set out as a prerequisite to offering membership.
The association will offer $1 million in liability insurance to drone operators for training and competitions, as well as recreational uses. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aircraft insurance program was so essential, IDRA says, that it held off on offering direct memberships until it could provide it.
“An IDRA member should be able to explain why he or she is a member, even if it is free. It was clear that our first membership service should be a primary liability insurance to drone pilots around the world,” IDRA CEO and founder Justin Haggerty said in a news release. “We worked hard to find the right insurance provider and underwriter that supported our goal to offer the lowest possible cost in respect to the designed policy. In short, our goal was achieved.”
It isn’t just the drone operators who are getting insurance, either: The group has also started offering insurance to organizers of individual events, at a price of $200 for a $2 million liability policy.
The program is designed to help increase the sport’s appeal by attracting smaller organizers who might be interested in hosting events. “It is through partnerships with smaller race organizers that IDRA has the opportunity to introduce new people to the technology and grow the community,” Haggerty said.
He recently told Forbes that drone racing needs to build up a grassroots base of support.
“In order for 2017 to be the breakout year for drone racing, organizations must focus on growing the community and educating people about the technology,” he said. “There can be no professional sport without a supportive, involved, and educated fan base.”