Drones: The risks and insurance

The increasing popularity of drones for commercial and recreational use, makes this the latest technological advancement to fundamentally impact many industries - including the insurance industry. Although drones have innumerable uses, which can include bringing cost-cutting and efficiency benefits to your business, they also pose substantial new risks.

Drones are big business
Drones - with their network connectivity capabilities that allow them to send and receive data - are predicted to be the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) and are being used to improve numerous industries in countless ways. As drones become smaller, easier to use and more affordable, the barrier to entry is lowered and more and more people are using them. In South Africa, this technology has taken off quickly and we expect its adoption rate to accelerate dramatically over the next few years.

The commercial use of these aircraft range from data collection tasks - such as inspecting roofs and agricultural crop surveys - to aerial photography and emergency deliveries to inaccessible areas. The incredible potential of drones to perform more and more tasks across numerous industries, solving problems and collecting data faster and cheaper, is the reason for the excitement around this technology. In the United States, over 200 000 commercial drones are expected to be integrated into the FAA airspace by 2018.

Comprehensive insurance for drones
Drones can be defined as a remotely piloted aircraft (RPAS) or an unmanned aerial system (UAS) - basically meaning an aircraft piloted from a remote pilot station. The anticipation of more drones in the sky will inevitably lead to an increased risk in this area.

Anti-collision software already exists in mass production drones such as the Phantom (DJI) and some drones are programmed not fly near airports and other restricted areas.

If you intend to use a drone for business purposes, you will need personal accident cover as well as aviation hull and liability cover with a cyber extension to your policy. This will cover loss, damage and liability related to the drone itself, hangar keepers and product liability. You can also insure against the loss of data collected by your drone. A comprehensive insurance policy will also cover you against any unauthorised use by another person should that person cause loss, damage or injury to the drone, a person or property.

To be insured, your drones must be registered with the correct authorities and may only be operated by qualified drone pilots.

Regulations and training
In line with international ICAO standards, South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) compliance for commercial drones requires the operator to hold a RPL (remote pilot license). This is a formal aviation qualification that is recognised internationally and comes with a list of requirements necessary to integrate drones into manned airspace. Among these are that the operator must be at least 18 years old, must undergo a medical assessment and must be trained in various disciplines.

There are a number of new rules that regulate the use of drones. These include: not flying it within 50 metres of any people or manned aircrafts, not flying more than 120 metres above the ground or within 10km of an aerodrome.

Some of the key concerns around drone regulations internationally include the lack of training and reliable standards. On-going training is expected to reduce the risk of accidents involving drones.

Talk to your local Garrun broker if you have any further questions with regards to Commercial Drone Insurance.

Website:  www.garrun-group.co.za