Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted regulatory exemptions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations to four companies seeking to use UAS technology for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. This decision follows on the heels of the FAA’s announcement in late September, when it granted exemptions for commercial movie and television production.
As with the introduction of any new technology, the use of drones is not without increased risk of liability, notably, claims for damage to persons or property caused by UAS and invasion of privacy. Moreover, companies will want to ensure that they are adequately protected in the event of physical damage to the drone or UAS itself.
Some insurance carriers have already responded to the specialized coverage needs that come with the use of UAS. Indeed, prior to FAA’s grant of limited permission for drone filming in the United States, use of aerial photography was underway overseas. As a result, foreign markets responded with insurance policies that cover, among other things, risks of physical damage to drones and related equipment.
If commercial drone use continues to expand, as it appears it will, film and entertainment companies should reevaluate their commercial general liability, media liability, and production policy packages (including equipment coverage). among others, to ensure that the potential exposure created by the use of drones is properly managed from an insurance standpoint.