Using any DJI product is not without risk. This will weigh on the mind of anyone investing in a new high-tech device – perhaps especially those buying a drone, though DJI’s cameras and gimbals are covered too by the optional DJI Care Refresh insurance that is offered at purchase.
All these products are likely to be out and about in the rough and tumble of real life and drones and gimbals especially, have exposed moving parts. New users will be understandably concerned about the harm which might befall their new device, and whether they themselves will play a part.
A standard warranty will not cover accidents; that’s where DJI Care Refresh steps in. A little like AppleCare (opens in new tab) (we’ll look at the comparison below), this is an insurance product which has the potential to save DJI pilots from bad luck, bad piloting.
The question is how much protection do you get for your money (and how much money)?
What are the key benefits of DJI Care Refresh?
The DJI Care Refresh insurance covers collisions, water damage, fly aways and natural wear for drones, and various damage scenarios for handheld cameras. That comes atop the normal protection that the standard warranty provides, which covers defects with the product in box, up to 12 months (though sometimes less for specific components like batteries).
The small print varies from country to country, but essentially DJI are obliged to provide customers with a working product. That’s the job of the warranty, and claims on it will involve an assessment and repair process taking up to 5 days, plus shipping.
Care Refresh kicks in beyond that basic consumer protection by covering users against their own errors, be that collisions, water damage, natural wear or even – at a different cost – flyaways.
How is DJI Care Refresh + different?
DJI Care Refresh has been around a few years, and in 2018 DJI began to offer two years of coverage – ‘plus’ one year. You can extend the care at any time in the first year. If you buy the two-year plan at the start there isn’t currently an option to extend.
Is DJI Care Refresh the same as professional drone insurance?
In a word, ‘no.’ Professional pilots are usually required to have public indemnity insurance, which covers the pilot for the potentially spiralling costs of an accident they cause. Enthusiasts might be interested too, since injury, damage and other claims can spiral into the millions, though many insurers will only cover qualified pilots.
That isn’t to say that Care Refresh isn’t useful for professionals. Not all commercial insurance covers damage to the craft and, even if it does, users may not want to make a claim on it.
If I crash my drone, what happens?
If you’re covered by DJI Care Refresh, and your drone needs repair or replacement, the claim is made via DJI’s Care Express website. This has simple forms in which you register your case, and simply explain what happened. There is no need for subterfuge since human error is covered.
After that, you pay the replacement fee and within a few minutes DJI will arrange courier collection of your drone or camera. As we said, it’s important to recover the device as flyaway costs are higher.
Soon after DJI receive the product (typically within hours) they’ll send a replacement. All the shipping costs are covered, and you can track the process on the DJI site. A new product will likely be with you in under 2 weeks, probably less.
Are batteries covered?
Batteries are covered, and if there was one in the product when the incident occurred you should remove it, check it, and include it. You’ll be asked to check a box if you’re including the battery as part of your claim.
What if I lose my DJI product in water?
DJI Care Refresh covers water damage, however you will need to recover the device in order to make a claim under the standard rates. If it has sunk beyond recovery, you’ll need to make a much costlier “flayaway” claim. One solution for drone operators is to use floats (like these ones at Amazon (opens in new tab) ) when operating over water, but you’ll need to be confident they don’t interfere with your operation.
How much are the replacement charges?
When you make a claim on DJI Care Refresh, there is a fee. This is essentially an excess charge, and there are different rates for each product. There are also different charges depending on whether it is the first or second claim for damage. There is a significantly higher charge for a ‘flyaway’ replacement.
The table below doesn’t show every DJI product, but gives an idea of the costs involved for popular DJI drones. Each charge is a percentage of the recommended retail price of the drone, with the damage excess fees rising with each claim.
|DJI Mini SE||DJI Avata||DJI Mini 3 Pro||DJI Mavic 3|
|RRP||$299 / £269||$629 / £499||$759 / £709||$2049 / £1729|
|DJI Care Refresh 1-year||$29 / £26||$79 /£55||$79 / £75||$239 / £209|
|DJI Care Refresh 2-year||$49 / £45||$129 / £89||$125 / £119||$399 / £329|
|1st Damage claim||$29 / £26||$29 / £45||$65 / £62||$159 / £139|
|2nd Damage claim||$39 / £30||$39 / £49||$75 / £69||$199 / £169|
|Flyaway claim||$149 / £129||$219 / £175||$235 / £219||$739 / £619|
Is the coverage worldwide?
You can make a claim for damage you suffered while travelling, but you cannot make it away from where you bought the insurance. So if you crash on the first day of a two month trip abroad, you’ll just have to keep the bits with you and begin the claim when you get home.
Is it like Apple Care?
It’s tempting to compare the price of DJI Care Refresh with the similarly named AppleCare and AppleCare+. Like DJI’s, Apple’s scheme costs around 10% of the price of the product (see details on Apple's site (opens in new tab)), but Apple provides unlimited replacements, while the Care+ option doesn’t add time but coverage for also covers theft. Apple offer a monthly premium payment option and theoretically endless cover.
Apple’s scheme make sense for the product’s likely life, though. A better comparison might be other drone companies and 3rd party insurance.
Is it good value overall?
Autel has a similar scheme to DJI’s with comparable costs and rising excess charges.
Different third-party insurers offer a variety of annual fees and excess charges. In the UK, Eversure (opens in new tab) requires the drone to be recoverable, while Photoguard (opens in new tab) have a flat excess of £200 – making them better suited to pricier drones. In the US, Thimble (opens in new tab) even offer per-flight insurance via an app.
Our perception is that DJI Care Refresh provides good value coverage, especially for less-experienced pilots. Insurance is always a kind of wager, and here you’re largely betting against your own piloting skills. This might go some way to explaining why the second-year premium is so much cheaper – by then very few pilots make mistakes.
If you operate over water, then things tip further in your favor though, as despite the high excess for a claim, it is very hard to get warranty replacement for a loss as proof of defect isn’t easy without the device.
Are there any rewards for not making a claim?
If you get through your Care Refresh period without claiming on it, DJI reward you by extending your standard warranty by a year.
Can I sign up to DJI Care Refresh later?
If you buy a qualifying product directly from DJI, you’ll be offered Care Refresh as part of the checkout process. If you do it is automatically activated. If you buy from another retailer, then you can activate when you first turn it on.
It is possible, though, to join the scheme beyond 48-hours by sending DJI a screen video showing your drone in working operation. The company has set out instructions for creating an Aircraft Verification Video (opens in new tab), in which the serial numbers and gimbal calibration must appear.