Get drone insurance and operate drones commercially

At UAVAir, a CAA Approved National Qualified Entity to help you get your PFAW, one of the biggest questions we have from students enrolling for our Unmanned Aircraft Qualification (UAQ) en-route to getting the Permit for Aerial Work (PFAW) is that of having adequate insurance. What do they need? How do they go about obtaining it? How much does it cost?

In the first instance we must differentiate between working commercially and flying your drone recreationally. This then leads to a whole question in itself and that is what is defined as Aerial Work – the CAA have recently issued some guidance of their own on this thorny issue.

However if you are operating recreationally it is still worth getting insurance for that situation you hope does not happen when your drone does not fly quite how you wanted and you have an incident of some nature where you might need personal coverage. There are some products available on the market that cater for this section of the industry, 2 of which we know about are from the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) and also from FPVUK. However they will only cover you for Public Liability Insurance.

The advantage of getting insurance through one of these bodies is that it puts you in touch with communities of experienced hobbyists who have many years of experience and can advise you as to how, where and when you can start off your career by flying somewhere with like-minded people.

The other area of drone insurance before you commence your CAA Approved Drone Training with UAVAir is that of damage and contents. With drones costing normally in excess of £1000 by the time all supplementary equipment is added up, it would seem sensible to check that is included as a part of your house contents or getting separate coverage from a specialist provider.

The next level from this is when you want to conduct your drone training assessment to get your PFAW with a CAA Approved NQE. Both the BMFA and FPVUK have add-on insurance products that will cover you for your Flight Assessment. The other option is to go with a Commercial Insurance company which, upon completing your Ground School Course will give you cover to take your test and then subsequently insure you for your professional career.

Speaking of the issues concerning drone insurance, there are more than you might think. As a part of gaining your PFAW and a licence to operate commercially, you are expected to consider any risks that might be around where you will be flying.

For example when operating close to a housing estate, you would be expected to conduct a Risk Assessment of anything you consider important and that might threaten your commercial drone operation, for example people, cars, permissions etc… A lot of people from other industries are using drones as add-ons to their existing business and have experience of RAMS or Risk Assessment Method Statements, which are techniques used to reduce your liability should anything go wrong with an operation, by showing you following a certain path of reducing Risk to what is known as ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Practical)

For these reasons; in order to get your PFAW from the CAA you need to have Commercial Insurance. The European governing body, EASA, specify what is the minimum level of cover required to fly drones commercially under EC 785/2004 – (http://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Airlines/Licensing/Requirements-and-guidance/Insurance/) and is it important that you provider clearly specifies this on your policy. As a guide, the typical minimum level of cover needed for a drone operation is about £1 million.

There are many suppliers of Commercial Drone Insurance, at UAVAir we recommend CoverDrone (https://www.coverdrone.com) but there are others such as Ravenhall (http://www.ravenhallgroup.co.uk/uav/), Aaduki (http://www.aaduki.com/drones/) and you need to check which supplier is suitable for you and for what you will be doing.

I hope that this is an introduction to the 3 different strands of insurance you need to consider when flying drones: Recreational, Flight Assessment and finally Commercial.