Small drones — a $2,900 DJI Inspire 1, the same model used at music festivals, such as Coachella in April — have crashed on the White House lawn, flown dangerously close to airports and spotted whales off the California coast. Sales are soaring: Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers estimates global shipments will increase 167 percent to 4.3 million units in 2015.
Soon, drones may be buzzing over many more live-music events. Peter Tempkins of Insurance Brokerage HUB International calls such harm “a checkbook,” referring to the likelihood that the liable party will pay damages should an injured attendee choose to sue.
For touring artists, general liability insurance and workers’ compensation are standard practice (many acts carry more). But these policies don’t necessarily include aircraft, which is what a drone is considered. A commercial drone operator hired for an event will likely have the requisite insurance, but industry professionals are pushing artists, promoters and venues to obtain additional coverage.
“It’s not expensive,” says Adam Siegel of American Agents & Brokers, which handles insurance for numerous music acts and events. Tempkins concurs, offering a scenario where a promoter might pay a per-head rate of 15 cents — $2,250 for an event expecting 15,000 attendees — although umbrella insurance would make the rate flat or adjustable.
Another option is to ban drones, as an increasing number of promoters and venues are doing. Indeed, faced with potential lawsuits if a drone’s flight path were to go awry, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Says Siegel, “It’s definitely a hot topic because it’s essentially a new technology that is blending into mainstream industry and culture.”
But regardless of how you feel about drones and the danger they might pose to festival goers, I think we all agree that visiting Coachella every year is worth the risk – so be sure to get your Coachella tickets today before they’re completely sold out!