Amazon is using drones, and many other companies are on the verge of doing so. But the risks of using them—both the obvious and the not-so-obvious ones—are a key consideration for most. New research from Munich Reinsurance America (Munich Re) reveals that when it comes to commercial drone usage, 61 percent of risk managers are concerned about the potential for invasion of privacy. Other concerns include inadequate insurance (15 percent), personal injury (15 percent) and property damage (9 percent).
In August 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued operational rules that would allow for commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones in U.S. airspace for operators who complete a certification process. The FAA anticipates commercial drones’ sales to reach 2.7 million by 2020.
“With the use of commercial drones soaring, it is revolutionizing how many companies conduct and grow their businesses,” said Gerry Finley, senior vice president of casualty underwriting at Munich Re, in a news release. “Drones can be used by farmers to monitor fields for pest management, or by an energy company to monitor a solar panel ‘farm.’ We may even see drones deliver packages for an online retailer on a daily basis. As the use of drone technology continues to evolve, the insurance industry will need to be prepared with innovative products and services to help its customers understand and manage the emerging property and liability risks involved.”
The majority of risk managers surveyed (62 percent) expect commercial drone usage to become common practice for businesses in less than five years—a significant increase from the 37 percent who believed this in 2015. Eleven percent of respondents consider drone usage already a common practice. Since approval of the FAA’s new operational rules last year, one in two (46 percent) risk managers would consider or explore the use of drones within their own businesses, and 7 percent are already using drones to conduct business.
“New FAA regulations have encouraged the commercial use of drones across a broad spectrum of industries,” said Tim Brockett, senior vice president of the Reinsurance division at Munich Re, in the release, “and more companies and public entities are exploring new, safe and cost effective ways to use drone technology. However, they may be at risk since most commercial insurance policies don’t cover or offer very limited liability protection for drones. We recently launched a Drone Liability Endorsement to help address this emerging market need.”
The survey was conducted on-site at the Risk Management Society (RIMS) Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA from April 24-25, 2017, and is intended to represent the views of 100 risk manager attendees who participated in the in-person interviews.