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Are you using a Drone for Commercial Purposes?

Feb 10, 2017

By Liz Walker, Insurance Adviser – AustBrokers Comsure.

From 29th September 2016, new categories of Drones (Remotely Piloted Aircrafts – RPAs) have been identified and defined by maximum take-off weight. Standard operating conditions have been introduced and as such, some operations will be considered ‘excluded RPA operations’ which will not require a Remote Operators Certificate (ReOC).

The new regulations mean Drones (RPAs) may be adopted for use in commercial operations without the operator requiring a Remote Operators Certificate or Controllers Certificate, making them much more accessible. This will allow RPAs to be used for numerous applications across many business sectors.

For example

Real Estate agents taking aerial imagery or property insurers making damage assessments; sporting bodies or clubs filming training; tourism operators producing promotional materials.

Any operation which is not conducted for sport or recreation is considered commercial. This extends and applies to operations which remuneration is not directly derived from.

For example

A plumber may use an RPA as a tool of trade to conduct a roof inspection. Although they are not selling the service this type of operation would be considered commercial.

There are a number of aspects that should be taken in to consideration, which is best done on a case by case basis, but owners and operators of commercial RPAS should consider protecting their assets and third party liability.

  • Coverage for accidental damage includes whilst in flight. The policy will also extend to cover road transit whilst in the insured care, custody or control for specified events. Ground risks only cover is also available if required.
  • Third Party Liability (TPL) cover binds to each RPAS individually. TPL will cover bodily injury or property damage as a result of an RPAS accident.

Operating a RPAS without coverage could result in serious liability implications under the Damage by Aircraft Act3. It is important to understand these implications as well as the operational limitations imposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

RPA operators should consider the following to improve their understanding of legal operational limitations and professionalism:

  • Become a member of the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS).
  • Obtain a ReOC
  • Complete training by a Registered Training Organisation to a level of competency acceptable to Insurers.

RPAS used for sport or recreation are defined as a model aircraft. Some home and contents policies extend to cover model aircraft however various limitations apply ranging from size to operational environment.

View an article provided by Liberty International Underwriters here. It explains Commercial Drone use in more detail.

Please check with your AustBrokers Comsure Adviser on 1800 122 194 if you are unsure.

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