Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles typically used for purposes such as surveillance and monitoring. They have no onboard pilot and are controlled from the ground. Lately, drones have been used for more than just filming, and can be used as tools for agriculture and farms to monitor various stages of crop growth and crop yield; to take images of the crops, fields, and livestock for later imaging and data analysis; and also to spray crop fields with fertilizers and pesticides. These unmanned vehicles can also be used to more easily and economically, detect problem areas in fields, spot irrigation leaks, identify pest infestations, monitor plant growth, and can help predict yields.
This article is about commercial drones used on farms, how and why they should be insured, and where to get the best rates for insuring your drone operation.
What Is Drone Insurance For Crops and Agriculture?
Similar to any other vehicle, including other aircraft, drones can be insured to protect the owner against damages to property, injury, and loss of life. The damages could include any damages on the ground, including buildings or vehicles, and the damages to the drone itself which can be thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars depending on the drone. Insurance policies can be purchased to reduce these liability risks.
Who Needs To Be Insured?
The FAA currently does not require insurance for drones and there is currently no law that states drone owners must carry insurance for their unmanned vehicles.
Despite the lack of a requirement for insurance, drone pilots still need to follow several rules to be able to fly and operate their drones: operators must have a remote pilot certificate with a UAS rating, pilots must be at least 16 years old and demonstrate knowledge by passing a test, the aircraft must be registered, clearance must be received by the Transportation Security Administration, the maximum altitude is under 400 feet, drones can be operated in the daytime only, and drones are not to be flown over people and property not involved in the drone operation.
Risks of Operating Drones
The lack of a mandate for insurance from the government does not alleviate the risk drone owners take when flying and operating their vehicles. Your potential liability exposure can be reduced and your investment protected by following safety precautions and FAA rules, and by purchasing commercial drone insurance.
The potential risks of drone operation could include, among others:
- The drone itself, often an expensive piece of equipment, can be damaged or destroyed.
- Cameras and other accessories on the drone can be damaged.
- Property, including neighboring property, could be damaged from a malfunction or crash.
- A bystander could be injured or killed in a crash.
- Privacy issues or lawsuits could arise from flying over private property and recording people.
- Drone, devices, and accessories could be stolen.
- Drones could potentially be hacked, either to take control of the vehicle or to steal data and images.
This list of potential risks is not exhaustive but is a list of just some examples of how you, your property, and your equipment investment is at risk. The consequences of these risks range from small to potentially catastrophic, especially when injuries occur. These risks can be heightened due to certain events that could be out of the operator’s control such as bad weather during the drone’s flight and malfunctioning equipment.
What Is Covered in the Policy?
Speak to your insurance agent about how your drone and your business can be protected from risks, including those covered in the previous section. The amount of coverage you purchase could be based on factors such as the cost of the drone and the various apparatuses onboard such as cameras or sprayers. The camera could be expensive and could require additional coverage. Also, heavy use drones and a high frequency of flying them may require additional coverage.
Elements of a Policy
Some common elements in your drone insurance policy could be:
Drone hull coverage
This coverage protects your investment in the physical drone and claims will cover damage or loss of the actual drone itself.
Drone liability coverage
This coverage will cover not just yourself, but covers injuries sustained by anyone on the ground, as well as any property damage resulting from your operation of the drone. For example, if your drone crashes into people or property, your policy will protect you from those damages.
Cameras and other equipment can be very expensive. Any accessories onboard the drone can get damaged and will specifically be covered by insurance.
Ground equipment coverage
This type of coverage covers damages to any equipment used to operate the drone, including remote controls, cases, ground stations, computers, and any other devices.
Personal injury liability coverage
This option will cover you from lawsuits resulting from your operation of the drone copyright infringement, libel, slander, and invasion of privacy – for example, accidentally flying over or filming neighboring property.
Non-owned drone liability coverage
This option is available for operators who rent drones and equipment.
Ask your insurance agent for more options and additional types of coverage for your UAV.
Where To Get Drone Insurance
To help mitigate potentially catastrophic risks to yourself, your drone, and the general public, follow safety precautions published by the Department of Transportation and the FAA when operating your drone and get covered by a comprehensive insurance policy. To purchase drone insurance, you’ll need to find a reputable insurance broker who can find the best rates for you so you can compare prices. You’re going to want a broker with decades of experience in both the aviation industry and the insurance industry.
Why choose BWI Aviation Insurance?
Over our 42 year history, BWI has built longstanding relationships with all of the above Aviation Insurance Companies. We work hand in hand with the above companies and leverage our experience to find the best market for your particular airplane insurance risk.
To ensure that you are getting the absolute lowest rate and best coverage with a rock solid A+ rated Aviation Insurance company, get a quote with BWI today. We specialize only in Airplane Insurance and our office is open 12 hours a day. Our agents are friendly and knowledgeable, and most importantly they are agents that you can trust to get you the best coverage for your needs. Aviation Insurance is all that we do and have done for 42 years.
Call 800.666.4359 today for a free Airplane Insurance Quote or Click Here to submit a quote request online.
BWI is the Nation’s Leader in Aviation Insurance, with offices based in Corona, CA and Anchorage, AK