“Why I Fly Insurance Missions”: A DroneBase Pilot’s POV

You may recall when DroneBase’s Head of Ops, Nick Osgood, wrote about the Ins and Outs of Insurance Missions  to provide more context on their value for the drone community. Today, we take a look at insurance missions through the lens of one of our veteran drone pilots, Vic Moss.

Vic is an award-winning photographer and a licensed, experienced drone operator. You may have heard Vic’s name before due to how active he is in the drone community: he’s an administrator of the UAV Legal News and Discussion group on Facebook, an aerial photography instructor, and flies DroneBase insurance missions regularly.

Below is Vic’s honest take on the value of insurance missions and why he chooses to fly with DroneBase.


“I like a few things about flying DroneBase insurance missions.
First, of course, is the money.
Second is that I get to meet some fun people. I’m a people person, so I like to do that.
Third, it’s an awesome opportunity to be an ambassador for the drone industry. Very few people have seen a drone up close, and only learn about drones from what they see on the news. And that’s rarely positive. As more drones are seen by the public, the more accepted they’ll be by the public. Every flight we take on a DB mission is one more person who is exposed to the positive image of drones.
It’s also a great way to stay sharp on the sticks, and get paid for it at the same time. Most of my standard drone gigs are in larger, more open areas. Having to concentrate on keeping the drone away from trees and power lines helps sharpen my close quarter flight skills. I’ve already been able to take advantage of that on a couple of commercial drone shoots just last week.
[Regarding payout…] We’d all like to make more money when we’re flying. I’d like to see the insurance missions to be around $100 each. But then again, last week I had a full day shooting off-road vehicles for a large tire manufacturer that I’d like to have seen more pay from.
As Creatives, we are price takers, not price setters. Especially when it comes to commodity missions like insurance inspections. There is a fine line between a viable and cost effective method of inspections with a drone versus putting a person on the roof. I believe that once this becomes more commonplace, and more insurance companies see the incredible safety benefits of drones (& not just the cost savings), more companies will use drones, and the prices will go up. More companies mean more pilots needed. And as more pilots are needed, the better ones will get the higher paying missions. It’s simple supply and demand.
Also, DroneBase insurance missions are literally accept, shoot, upload, and forget.
While you could certainly get more money per mission if you go out and do this on your own, you have to factor in all of the extra work you’ll need to do. First, you’ll have to develop or purchase a software and data management system. Then you’ll need to network and get large-scale clients to make it worth your investment. Then you’ll have to schedule, shoot, upload, QC, and forward all of the relevant information to the clients. Then you’ll need to bill them, and take care of all the paperwork. And the key to this business model is volume, so you’ll need to hire more pilots, and then take a cut of their fees, which puts you right into the same business model that already exists for DroneBase. So why go through all that brain damage when you can just accept, shoot, upload, and forget it? And oh yeah, you get paid right away for your missions.
And if you have 2 or 3 days of bad weather in a row, your schedule is blown out of the water. And you get to start all over again.
Now let’s look at the liability side of things.
There is a reason that insurance companies employ so many lawyers. The industry is litigated a multitude of times each day. That’s just the nature of the business. If you’re shooting for DroneBase, you have zero liability in the event (and eventuality) of one of your missions ending up in court. You don’t save the imagery from DB. You delete it 48 hours after the mission is accepted. If you don’t have the imagery, you can’t be expected to testify in court. But if you are the company that keeps the imagery, you can bet the farm that you’ll be called into court when the inevitable happens. Which could mean lawyer fees. And does mean headaches and loss of income.
Once you take a look at all of the time, expense, and liability of doing these type of missions for yourself, you have to wonder if the extra money you’d get for it would be worth the brain damage and grey hairs.
Personally, given the amount of pre-production and post-production work that goes into my regular shoots, I kinda like the “accept, shoot, upload, and forget” business model for the DroneBase missions.
It’s a refreshing change of pace.”

— Vic Moss

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 12.37.52 PM Stay in touch with Vic on Medium, Twitter, or by visiting his homepage



24 thoughts on ““Why I Fly Insurance Missions”: A DroneBase Pilot’s POV

    1. Hey James! You won’t see these missions in your dashboard as our operations team sources them directly to pilots based on their location.

      Be sure that your location, Part 107 license, and drone system information has been entered correctly in your pilot profile. From there, our team will be able to queue you up when we have an available mission in your area. Hope that clears things up!


  1. For this type of insurance missions, do I need to buy liability insurance myself? or drontebase will buy insurance for me? How can I make sure that I won’t get sued anyway?


  2. I’m confused because I saw on the Pilot FAQ session, it says that “Do I need to have my own insurance?
    It is recommended that you provide your own insurance. Typical minimums include $1 Million in General Liability. We may ask for your Certificate of Insurance. ” so do I need to buy my own insurance at all? I’ve signed up on DB for a while but never received any insurance mission notification. Please help.


    1. Hi Lance, Great question. DroneBase has insurance that all pilots fly under as subcontractors, however drone systems are not covered in that agreement. We do not require that you have your own insurance, though we do recommend it.

      Hope that clears things up!


  3. Good article.. hadn’t thought of the litigation part as far as insurance missions. That would be a pain. I haven’t done any dronebase client or insurance missions, so I don’t know what they pay, but I’ve heard they are sub $100. I agree with the $100 mark on the missions at minimum.

    Also for anyone out there who doesn’t get client missions, from what I know, DroneBase seems to find 1 or 2 guys in an area (obviously depends on size) and continually go back to them for every client mission. I have a friend who has been doing a regular client mission weekly for a year now in my area. I have had my 107 info etc in the dronebase db for 6 months and haven’t gotten any client missions. I think DB needs to do a better job of spreading the jobs instead of giving them all to the same person(s) in an area simply because they have used them before and it might take them a few more minutes to make a new contact.


  4. Just one more reason why I love flying for Drone Base. So many opportunities! Thank you Drone Base! This system is perfect as my company .
    Papa Sal
    Reno, NV.


  5. DroneBase is certainly a great way to get some jobs in between jobs! I enjoy the service and would like to see more work sent my way! Keep it up DB


  6. How much of a cut is DB taking? 40%? 60%?
    Also, do you require pilot’s to sign any sort of “no compete” or anything that would prevent them from flying for other jobs or other contractors?

    I’m looking into getting my part 107 soon and I would like to start making money asap.


    1. Hi Caleb, great questions! Payout varies based on a number of factors (i.e. type of mission, location, difficulty, etc), but pilots receive the majority share. We do not have a noncompete, so you are always free to fly other jobs as they become available to you. If this sounds interesting to you, head on over to http://www.dronebase.com/pilots to get started. We hope you’ll join us!


    1. Hey Josh, great question! Payout ranges based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to mission difficulty, distance traveled, and more. Pilots are notified of payout before accepting the mission. Let us know if you have any other questions!


  7. The Drone Base missions that I have flown have been pretty low paying, but when you compare no pay to low pay the low pay is always better than no pay. I can’t vouch for other areas but I received my first drone base mission within the first week after signing up. I own my own aerial photography/videography company and use drone base and now Eagleview missions as well. Again do they pay less, yes but they are doing the leg work and finding the jobs. I have also had to turn down two Drone Base and two Eagleview missions recently because of scheduling conflicts so the work is there. I love to fly, so every mission is another chance to get out an fly and each time you do that you get better at what you do, Do I wish they paid better of course I do but they are in this business to make a profit just like we are. I can tell you that editing my photos for my own business clients is a pain in the butt and very time consuming, so flying, snapping photos and videos without having to edit is a bonus. I also have a question for you at drone base. I would like to add a logo link to drone base on my website but haven’t found one. Am I looking in the wrong places.or do you not have one.

    Nick Agorastos
    Falconseye Aerial Solutions, LLC
    Dayton, Nevada


  8. I’ve been flying Dronebase missions for about a year, beginning with Panos. Now there are several different types of missions which adds to the challenge and keeps things interesting. Looking forward to the weather here improving so I can go fly more.


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