Companies with commercial drone operations must comply with federal aviation regulations and manage liability exposures as drone applications expand, experts say.
Claims professional flying drones for Travelers Cos. Inc. must comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations and insurer rules, said Jim Wucherpfennig, Hartford, Conn.-based vice president of property claims at the insurer.
The FAA’s Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems regulations cover commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds. Drone regulations also exist at the state and local level.
Stating that professionals can only fly drones at a certain altitude, the devices “cannot fly in certain wind conditions, winter conditions, absolutely never at night and always in line of sight,”; Wucherpfennig said.
Pilot training and certification are critical, he said.
Concerns about liability risks may have slowed drone adoption among insurers, said Peter Fallon, head of the national real estate practice at brokerage Risk Strategies Co. Inc. in Boston.
“Insurers don’t want to be liable if a drone crashes into a building and causes property damage” or injures people, he said.
Aviation insurers have developed drone-specific policy forms that are tailored to address the exposures drone operators face, said Drew Johnston, Oklahoma City-based national aviation practice leader at Woodruff Sawyer & Co.
Third-party liability is the most significant exposure drone operators should consider, Johnston said. “This could be bodily injury or tort liability,” he said.
FAA rules are designed to minimize drone operations over populated areas and near airports, but there is still the possibility of pilot error or equipment failure, he said.