Business from 400 feet up: Protection for drones gone wrong

In the past few years, there’s been a jump in both commercial and personal use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, better known as drones. In 2018, the FAA announced that there are over one million registered drones being used--over 878,000 by hobbyists and 122,000 for commercial use.

For businesses, drones are often great tools to showcase properties for sale, take general photography and videography for marketing collateral, and even deliver products. But, there are a bunch of considerations that must be taken before going out and actually buying one. In our experience, we’ve heard questions like:

  • Do I need a license to fly a drone for business use?

  • If I’m using a drone to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale, is that be considered a commercial operation? Do I need special permits?

  • What types of potential liability claims can I be exposed to if something goes wrong?

The latter is where things can get serious. Worst case scenarios have already happened across world, such as flying too close to helicopters and planes, injuring bystanders at festivals, and even clipping flesh on photographers… What if any of these were unintentionally caused because you were trying to capture something for your business? You’re the owner, and the one to blame.

It’s clear insurance is important before taking flight, but what type do you need? Generally, general liability policies come with an important exclusion for use of aircraft, so you should look into the following protections to make certain you’re fully covered:

  1. Liability: Is the base of any coverage and must be in place before adding additional coverages and protects against property damage and bodily injury claims.

    • Commercial Drone Liability protects you from a host of potential accidents that can happen, outlined here.

  2. “Hull:” Protects from any physical damage to the drone itself.

  3. Non-Owned Coverage: Even if your business is using a contractor to fly the drone, you could still be legally liable for the contracted drone operator. This insures you’re still covered in the case something happens by anyone using a business-owned drone.

These are just a starting point. It’s important to do your research and work with your insurance agent before deciding you’re all set to launch. In addition to obtaining the right insurance coverage, always make sure to review the latest FAA regulations for commercial or business drone use, found here:

Already using, or planning to purchase, a drone for business? Contact us today to take the conversation one step further and tailor a policy to your specific needs.