Flying a Drone? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Flying a Drone?

#AskKevinButler

If your business is using a drone for commercial purposes, you’re in good company. However, it’s important for you to know that your traditional business liability policy will not cover any claims related to the drone or your use of the drone for commercial purposes.

Your Business Liability Policy Has an Aviation Exclusion

General liability policies for businesses have an aviation exclusion. This means that anything that flies and is used for business purposes isn’t covered by the policy. If damage is done as a result of your commercial drone, you could be stuck paying for it out of your own pocket.

Specialized Liability Policies for Commercial Drone Use

Transport Canada requires commercial entities who use drones to have a specialized liability policy with a face amount of at least $100,000. If you’re using a drone for commercial purposes, the face amount for your policy will likely be $500,000 or even $1 million. Like all insurance policies, specialized liability policies for commercial drones will have restrictions. Make sure that you read and understand your policy. Your policy may not cover certain acts. Most will not cover you if you are accused of using the drone to invade the privacy of another person. You may need a rider for fire or theft damage.

What Does Commercial Drone Insurance Usually Cover?

It’s important for you to understand that commercial drone usage and insurance are relatively new. You can expect to see some changes to the rules regarding commercial drone usage and to drone insurance in the future. Currently, commercial drone liability policies generally cover:

  • Damage to the commercial drone
  • Loss of the commercial drone (Talk to your broker to know whether theft is covered)
  • Damage to or loss of ground station equipment
  • Damage or loss of drone mounted equipment
  • Damage to another person’s property

Common Uses for Commercial Drones

Commercial drones are being used in several industries throughout Canada. The most common commercial uses for drones include: 

  • Aerial surveying
  • Aerial photography
  • Property inspection
  • Farming

If you are using your drone for aerial photography or if you will be flying your drone over the property of others in order to survey or inspect your own commercial property, you should get the permission of the property owners. For aerial photography, make sure that you have the permission of the property owner and of anyone who is featured in the photographs. Doing so can help you avoid a claim that you violated someone’s privacy.

You May Need Permission from Transport Canada

Commercial drone insurance may not be your only concern as a business. Depending on the size of your drone, you may need the permission of Transport Canada before you can begin using it. If your drone weighs less than 35kg, you do not need permission from Transport Canada. However, if it heavier than 35kg, you must apply for and receive a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

You must also adhere to all of the regulations set forth in your province and by Transport Canada in order to legally operate your commercial drone. To learn more about the regulations, visit Transport Canada’s page dedicated to the safe and legal operation of drones.

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