In our continuing discussion about drones, today, we look at how to protect yourself when you are operating your drone.
What started out as the next generation of remote controlled toy for the kids-instead of the 1:22 scale replica of the Bigfoot Monster Truck, that could just go backward and forward, left and right-now goes up and down, too. For less than a C-note, you could be "the bestest parent in the whole wide world" if you would just buy Little Johnny that Sky Viper drone. Apparently, many of us did just that. In fact, estimates indicate more than 1 million drones sold during the 2015 Christmas Season.
But now, Little Johnny's flying menace has gone mainstream and businesses are finding more and more ways to utilize drones. By 2020, the FAA estimates that 30,000 drones will be used for business purposes. Moreover, they estimate drone usage could add 100,000 new jobs and $82 billion to the US economy over the next 10 years.
With more and more businesses utilizing drones, the issue of liability and insurance has come to the forefront. No longer do you have to find an insurance agent, sit down and fill out a lengthy application and wait for quotes to come back to obtain insurance. Now, like many other things in our daily lives-THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT!
Insurance at your fingertips
Numerous insurers are writing liability policies to cover drone use, and all you have to do is download the app, enter information about yourself, your drone, and where you are flying, and then you can purchase insurance-in some cases, up to $10 million in coverage. You can pay by the hour or the day for flight time, and you no longer have to pay for a policy while the drone sits idle. In less than 10 minutes (if you type proficiently) you can be flying your drone, comforted with the knowledge that you are protected if your drone goes rogue and injures someone.
Are you really covered?
So, you've got your drone to shoot those aerial photographs and flyover video for your client, you've visited the App store, downloaded the insurance App and purchased the policy. You are ready to fly-but are you protected?
Most of the liability policies covering drone activity are fairly straightforward, defining what is covered and what is not. But care must be taken to read the policy. Aside from the usual and customary policy exclusions, many of the available policies for drone operations exclude coverage for incidents and losses occurring, among other things:
(a) When someone other than the designated pilot is operating the drone;
(b) When the drone is being used for any purpose other than those designated in the policy application;
(c) Arising from noise;
(d) Arising from electrical or electro-magnetic interference; and
(e) Arising from interference with the use of property.
With these exclusions, coverage would be DENIED for claims or lawsuits by adjacent landowners for (a) nuisance claims for the noise from the drone, (b) electrical or communications interference, or (c) in some way hindering the landowner from using his property.
Love'em or hate'em, drones are here to stay. And they will become more and more prevalent in both business and recreational use. If you are using drones in business, it is imperative to insure your drone to protect your company and your investment. Read your insurance policy and make sure you understand what is and is NOT covered so that you can make the best decision and purchase insurance that fits your needs.
Before you Fly, you need to Buy-Insurance, that is. You don't have to find the camel or the lizard-just grab your phone, and remember, There's an App for That!
For more information on drone law, please contact us at: [email protected].
For additional information on drone history and interesting criminal and civil issues arising with the increased availability of drones, please see our blog archives for May and June 2017.