Perhaps you are a surveyor commissioned to provide a drone survey for a client. Possibly, your business could be considering a drone delivery service. Or maybe you are a photographer / videographer taking to the skies by means of a quadcopter/drone, capturing remarkable imagery. Whatever your business uses a small unmanned aircraft (SUA) for, you will require insurance.
The Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) defines commercial drone operation as: any flight by a SUA, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), being used in return for remuneration, or other valuable consideration. For example, if you were to provide a client with an aerial-shot video, for a fee, this would be classed as drone use for a commercial purpose.
On 30th November 2019 it became illegal to fly a drone, or any other SUA, (weighing 250g – 20kg) without registering with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and passing a theory test. The CAA requires that insurance is in place when you apply and this insurance must be compliant to EC regulation EC 785/2004. In real terms, this means that the absolute minimum requirement is third-party liability cover. Therefore, you will need insurance and a permit to fly for commercial operations, or at least bring in an operator who holds this permission.
Similar to many other devices, SUAs can cause injury or damage if not used responsibly so are now subject to safety rules relating to how they are operated, which are underpinned by UK law.
SUA Operators need to be especially aware of the following regulations:
- Article 240 – endangering safety of an aircraft:
- A person must not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, or any person in an aircraft.
- Article 241 – endangering safety of any person or property
- A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property
- Article 94 – small unmanned aircraft: requirements
- A person must not cause or permit any article or animal to be dropped from SUAs
- Operators may only fly the aircraft if satisfied that flights can be made safely.
- Operators must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path for the purpose of avoiding collisions.
- The operator must not cause or permit a SUA to be flown for the purposes of commercial operations, except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.
- Article 94A – SUA; Permissions for certain flights
- Article 94B – SUA: Interpretation of expressions used in the definition of “flight restriction zone”
- Article 95 – small unmanned surveillance aircraft
- In this article, a SUA which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.
Taking all of this into consideration, there are these risks to consider:
- Collision (damage/injury)
- System failure/loss of signal
- Malicious acts/terrorism
- Cyberattack/data theft
- Privacy – trespass/nuisance.
These are all risks that can be insured – for you, third parties, your drone, and its equipment. With the imminent growth of commercial drone use in the UK, it is critical that businesses of all sizes have access to fair, and flexible insurance policies. Even if you are rarely going to use a drone for your business; short-term use cover, a pay-per-flight option, and bespoke covers are available.