According to Australia’s national aviation authority, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) flying a drone is legal in Australia. However, it is important to be aware of and compliant with drone regulations and we recommend obtaining the correct insurance cover before operating drones.
A few important rules are noted below:
• Drones should be operated only during the day and within your visual line of sight
• Drones should not be flown higher than 120 metres off the ground and not over or above people in public places
• You should keep your drone at least 30 metres away from other people
• A drone should not be flown in an area where emergency operations are underway (without prior approval)
• There is an official CASA app which is a good tool for where you can or cannot fly a drone in Australia whether it be recreationally or commercially.
• Under certain conditions, a remote pilot’s license is required. See CASA’s website, https://www.casa.gov.au/drones for further details.
Many construction professionals are using drones more frequently to assist in their research, inspection (as tools of trade) or project management work.
Drone insurance acts like any other insurance policy. One of the greatest risks for drone owners and operators of commercial drones is in liability to third parties. They also need to be aware of the way they can protect their assets for accidental damage while in flight as well as coverage when the drone is not being operated but transported.
Some business pack policies may offer an extension under the liability section to cover third party damage, however, it is advisable to take out a stand-alone policy underwritten by an Aviation Insurer to ensure full coverage. A business pack policy is not designed to undertake this type of risk and as such a number of exclusions will apply, for example:
• Insureds providing drone services for remuneration as part of their business
• Drones being piloted by any person other than as stated in the schedule
• Drones with a maximum take-off weight greater than 10kg
• Jet propelled drones
Clients often require the insured to obtain a certificate of currency issued for the amount of liability from an Aviation Insurer or an Underwriter offering this type of product and a business pack extension may not suffice.
QBE Insurance launched a dedicated drone insurance policy in 2018 created by underwriters and product specialists with risks that are specific to drones. Their claim data reveals that one in fifty drones will be involved in an accident. We therefore urge our clients to ensure they are adequately covered before operating drones.