According to an FAA estimate, 1.6 million small drones will be sold this year, with half during the last three months of the year.

We polled the major insurance companies that we do business with (Travelers, Liberty, Chubb, Hartford, Fireman’s Fund and others) and while this exposure is on everyone’s radar, no one is currently offering coverage under their standard insurance programs.

One of the main reasons is the fact that, absent a waiver, it is currently illegal to use a drone for commercial purposes. When the FAA does legalize drones, it is anticipated that most major insurance companies will shortly thereafter file specific endorsements to cover this exposure. In the meantime, you can find several sources online who are willing to specifically cover liability arising out of drone use.

The premiums to cover this exposure remains a moving target. Insurers will want to know what the drone is being used for, takeoff and landing locations, where they will be operated (populated areas would pose more of an exposure) and how high they will fly. An additional challenge is that there is no statistically relevant data on which to base rates.

For now, it seems those who wish to use drones for commercial purposes can take one of four courses:
• File for an exemption under Section 333.
• Subcontract the use of drones to a firm that has already obtained a Section 333 exemption for the type of work being executed.                 • Break the law and fly drones without the exemption.
• Wait until the final Small UAS Rule is issued, supposedly in 2017.

Here’s the point of view of a VP in a commercial insurance firm. I must admit that I always found it astonishing that insurers would cover unsanctioned activity. Of course, now they can just say no, not without a 333 exemption which at least puts them on the right side of the law. Goes to show that like beauty, risk is in the eye of the beholder.


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