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DJI offers up damage insurance for its drones

The DJI Care Protection Plan will cover damage from operator error or other mishaps for up to a year on new and unactivated aircraft.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

You unpacked your shiny new DJI Phantom 3 drone, took it outside and immediately sent it careening into a tree or your house, leaving you weeping over a pile of plastic bits that was once a quadcopter. It happens, and DJI knows this, so it's now offering damage insurance when you buy a new Phantom 3 or Inspire 1 V2.0 drone.

The DJI Care Protection Plans are available for either six months or one year of coverage for damage to the aircraft, gimbal or camera during normal use, but not accessories like the battery or controller. The protection is for new and unactivated aircraft or those that have been activated for less than 48 hours.

It's not free, of course, and the plans are only available for the moment to customers in the US, parts of Europe and Mainland China; they're currently not available for Australia and the UK. Here's how the US pricing breaks down:

DJI Protection Plan pricing

6-month coverage 1-year coverage
Phantom 3 Standard $99 $129
Phantom 3 4K $139 $199
Phantom 3 Advanced $139 $199
Phantom 3 Professional $189 $279
Inspire 1 V2.0 $499 $699

The plans handle unlimited repairs up to the purchase price of the drone. For example, if you buy a Phantom 3 Pro for its current price of $999, you get that much in repairs. And the damage can be from operator error, signal interference, collision, accidents or drops. However, if you total your drone, things get a little trickier.

According to DJI's FAQ, an aircraft is considered "completely damaged" if more than 80 percent of the parts are damaged. If you haven't used any of the coverage, you'll be able to exchange for a new drone. If some of your coverage has been used, the remaining amount can be applied toward the purchase of a new drone.

However, if you completely damage your drone with 30 days or fewer left on a 6-month plan you'll be given either the remaining coverage amount or 80 percent of the purchase price, whichever is lower. For the 1-year plan, if there's 60 days or fewer left, you'll get either the remaining coverage amount or 60 percent of the purchase price, whichever is lower.

You can read more details about the plans on DJI's support site, but overall it seems like a pretty smart move on DJI's part to offer new pilots some peace of mind while they're learning how to use their flying cameras. Or maybe it's just a license for them to fly more recklessly.