Unmanned Aerial Systems are without a doubt at the forefront of aerial innovation. As an emerging industry that is inherently fraught with risk, it should come as little surprise that the insurance market is quickly trying to capture and develop this promising new market.
One major carrier, Liberty Mutual, recently announced a joint venture with Acend, Inc. to launch a new drone insurance platform. Details remain to be seen (the company states that it will begin writing policies this summer). And we are closely following the types of common and unique risks these policies should protect against.
Indeed, the fact that major insurers are now pushing their specialty lines into the UAS sphere is not unexpected. But this development is nevertheless significant. UAS operators would likely agree that it would be difficult to find a “one size fits all” policy. And the exposure is limitless: products liability, personal injury, business income, natural disaster, professional liability, general liability, and legal defense coverage for anything from government investigations to business litigation.
Will this specialty market mirror the unique nature of the UAS industry or tend to follow more conventional policies issued by general liability carriers? Would the insured be able to choose their legal counsel in the event of a dispute? And of course, what will premiums and policies look like compared to conventional aviation companies?
Insurance is a critical component of most business operations. But drone operations are different and there remains uncharted territory. Preventive measures are critical and UAS operators should seek legal counsel tackling this minefield.