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Drones: Understanding the Safety & Liability Risks

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly referred to as “drones,” have become part of the lives of American businesses and consumers. A decade ago these automated, remote-controlled craft were strictly designated for combat, intelligence-gathering or scientific uses by the military and various agencies of the federal government. Now, companies in many different industries employ drones for purposes like photography and surveying. And consumers can purchase and operate drones for hobby flying and aerial photography.

Drones carry certain safety risks to operators and pedestrians. If you’re considering investing in UAVs for commercial or recreational use, you’ll want to carefully review the regulations governing drones. What’s more, it makes sense to Contact RC4 Insurance Agency, LLC to evaluate the appropriate insurance coverage options to protect yourself from the safety and liability risks of drones.

What are the drone use guidelines?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees all civilian air travel for the Department of Transportation, established regulations for consumer and commercial UAV operation. In some aspects, commercial drone requirements are much more restrictive, whereas in others consumers have stricter rules to follow. Take a look at some guidelines:

Licensing: Civilian drone operators don’t need any licenses or certifications to fly their UAVs. However, commercial pilots must be 16 years of age or older, pass a background check by the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) of the Homeland Security Department and earn a remote pilot airman certificate.

Registration: Both consumer and business drone users must register their drones if the crafts weigh more than 0.55 pounds, and the UAVs cannot exceed 55 pounds.

Airspace limits: Commercial drones are restricted to what the FAA designates as Class G airspace, the only completely unrestricted area of U.S. airspace. Recreational drone pilots can fly anywhere that’s five miles away from an airport, or closer than that if they notify the airport’s traffic control personnel in advance.

Operation: Recreational users have more freedom in this aspect. They are required to only yield to all manned aircraft, keep their drones within sight and follow any applicable local or state laws pertaining to drone use. By contrast, commercial UAVs can be flown only during the day, no faster than 100 mph and no higher than 400 feet. Commercial operators keep them out of occupied residential areas and never operate them from within a moving vehicle.

How can you insure a drone?

The FAA does not make it mandatory for business or recreational owners to insure their drones. Nevertheless, the risks of malfunction, crash or interference with manned air traffic, while not massive, are significant enough that drone owners often consider insurance coverage.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), the coverages from other insurance policies can apply to drones. Homeowners or renters insurance policies have the broadest applicability here, particularly if they include liability coverage. Check with your independent agent to make sure. If your UAV crashes into your car, the damage to the auto will be covered only if your policy includes comprehensive coverage, according to the I.I.I.

One major caveat here is policies intended for individuals can’t cover commercial drones; you must have separate business insurance. Also, the cost of most drones means a policy may not cover their full price in case of theft.  Contact RC4 Insurance Agency, LLC about commercial insurance coverage for all your needs.

Article From Selective Insurance Company