UAV Law – Drone Risk & Insurance

Drone Risk, Insurance & Liability

The Drone Industry is taking off. With each month, hundreds more businesses apply for authorization to commerically operate unmanned aviation vehicles in the national airspace. This emerging industry presents dramatic implications for everything from agriculture/viticulture, mining and constuction, to aerial photography and cinematography, and industrial and infrastructure inspection services. As regulatory hurdles continue to be cleared, adoption of UAV services will increase across a wide spectrum of industries.

With this growth in operations of UAVs comes inherent risk. With risk, comes the need for adequate insurance coverage. Let me highlight a case in point. In 2000, I founded a start up golf portal company called Golfinity had a great many features from photo and video sharing, buddy lists, private and group messaging, personal golf statistic tracking, wireless golf app for personal performance statistics and reports. I was watching the US Open one weekend and they had these video flyovers of the course. I though it would be a great idea to build a library of golf course video flyovers, and at the same time, provide these videos to the courses for marketing purposes at their own websites. I could then syndicate the video content and license it out to other golf portal companies. I decided I would do it and I called the service to-be Tee2Green.

I researched capabilities of products and I purchased a Draganflyer multi-rotor remote controlled helicopter complete with wireless streaming of video from the copter to a storage device. Armed and ready to get “wheels up” I contacted golf courses from the American Golf Corporation (AGC) about it. Received with oooohs and aaaaaahs, they too thought it would be great and were interested to see how things would turn out. AGC’s risk management folks said “sure” too, “but please provide us with insurance coverage as an additionally listed insured.” I called insurers everywhere… ala, no insurance to be had anywhere. The insurers I contacted had never heard of such a thing as insurance coverage for this type of proposd commercial service. “Insurance for what is it exactly?” they asked. Needless to say, Tee2Green never got off the ground, pun completely and entirely intended.

Here we are today, and drones have taken flight in a big way. Insurers have scrambled to address the needs of this expanding industry and developed coverage solutions not available to Golfinity back in 2000/2001. These insurance programs are specifically designed for the risk and liability exposure faced by remotely piloted, semi-autonomous, and fully autonomous aircraft. Whether through a dedicated, stand alone, unmanned aircraft hull and payload coverage, or liability only, policies applicable to owned and/or non-owned unmanned aircraft, or through a liability only coverage available as an enhancement to general liability placement, today’s insurers have the capability and insurance products to handle unmanned aircraft of any size operating in a wide variety of industries.

If you have any questions about placing insurance coverage and best practice methologies for risk mitigation, or if you have any questions concerning UAV coverage you already have in place, we can review your policy coverage and outline any deficiencies you may have in such coverage thereby allowing you to address these deficiencies with your insurance provider. Do you have hull coverage? Do you have payload coverage? What are the limits of your coverage for personal injury? Property damage? Does your Flight Operations Manual and risk management policy adequately address coverage limitations in your policy?

Failure to plan is planning to fail. Plan accordingly and don’t make the same mistake as countless other competitors are sure to do. Be sure to determine that you and your insurance provider are on the same page and that you are fully aware of the coverage and limitations of your Drone Insurance policy.

This document/post/article is not to be considered as legal advice. Content and information contained herein is subject to changes, modifications, and may contain inaccuracies or out-of-date information. As with any legal matter or other matters of importance, consultation with an attorney or professional is the best course of action.

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