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Drones & UAVs – Navigating the Insurance Complications

  • Adroit Insurance and Risk
  • March 2, 2016

When companies like Amazon first started talking about using drones as part of their business, the idea seemed more like science fiction than real life. While books being delivered by flying robots is still some way off, recent years have seen an increasing adoption of drones by many sectors.

From agriculture, to marketing, tourism, real estate and even the insurance business itself, drones have become an integral part of the way many businesses function. It is estimated that in the month of December last year alone, more than 400 drones  or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were sold for a mixture of recreational and commercial use.

For many business owners it can feel as if the drone is another worker – and just as intrinsic to the operation of the business – so it makes sense to consider your legal obligations as well as how your new “worker” affects your insurance needs.

Whether using your drone to spray crops, take a stunning aerial shot or any other use, it’s important to keep the following rules in mind, as laid out by the Federal Government’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA):

  • You must only operate the aircraft in your line-of-sight, in daylight.
  • You must not fly closer than 30 meters to vehicles, boats buildings or people and in controlled airspace (most Australian cities) you must not fly above 120 meters.
  • Stay away from any populous area (including beaches, parks or sports ovals where games are in progress).
  • Do not fly within 5.5km of an airfield or airport.
  • If you are flying for money or other economic reward it is a legal requirement that you have an unmanned operator’s certificate issued by CASA.

Adapted from “Flying with Control: Get to Know the Rules” by CASA

As with any technological development, insurance companies must act quickly to create and refine policies that cover this new part of doing business. At this stage there remains some ambiguity around the coverage afforded to those using drones – especially for commercial purposes.

If you require that a drone be insured under your insurance policy, be it for recreation or business, make sure to speak directly to your risk adviser about this today. Your risk adviser can guide you through current understandings of the way that existing policies may cover UAVs and also provide policies tailored specifically to insuring commercially used drones.

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