When applying for UAV insurance, consider these six basic factors that underwriters use to price UAV insurance policies:
• What UAV are you using? Not all units are alike. Size, weight, the level of autonomy, ease of use – all of these factors and more set different systems apart. Insurers look for UAVs with a proven track record, i.e. how many have been manufactured and what is the accident rate?
• What are you using the UAV for? Insurers assess this as certain functions are more hazardous than others. Proximity to overhead power cables or other structures presents a hazard that requires good flying skills.
• Who is operating the aircraft? The operator is particularly critical with rotor wing UAV that require precision flying. There is no substitute for training and experience, and if your insurer insists upon some formal training, it is to make you a safer operator. It remains to be seen what the NPRM “aeronautical knowledge test” will include or whether insurers will accept that alone as sufficient training.
• Where is the UAV being operated? This is perhaps the most important item of all. Essentially it comes down to the risk of injury to third parties or damage to their property. A farmer flying a foam wing drone over their land presents a very different risk to a 25 lb octocopter operating over the heads of 2,000 spectators at a concert. If you want to influence insurers with your understanding of hazards and how to operate safely, this is the place to start.
• What is the background of the operator? A seasoned helicopter pilot or established aircraft operating company will look at UAV operations through a different lens to most new-to-aviation drone operators. Most insurers will look favorably on this experience and background.
• What kind of risk management is in place? Global Aerospace, for example, feels strong about the use of formal risk management strategies. Standard operating procedures are an integral part of a safe operation and can help prevent unnecessary accidents.
Overall, insurers are focused on the professionalism of the operator. If operators demonstrate that they are proficient, using good equipment and won’t fly in unnecessarily dangerous environments, they are on the right track to getting a competitively priced insurance policy.