Drone usage is not just a trend in the insurance and telecommunications industries. In August 2016, the FAA approved the usage of drones for commercial use. Often, the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), are used in areas that are difficult or dangerous for people to inspect, such as condemned buildings, new construction, damaged roofs and collapsed buildings.
The building inspectors can fly drones over private or controlled-access property only with the permission of the owner or authorized party. Without permission/ consent, it is illegal for any drones to fly within the zone. Therefore, the inspectors and insurance companies need to have permission from all landowners they fly over. The issue with this particular restriction is that it is not entirely practical. Since drones are used outside, there are gusts of winds that may push the aircraft into restricted areas, beyond the controls of the operator. The winds might also cause the drone pilot to lose control of the machine, so much that it causes property damage when it crashes. The FAA requires that any property damage of $500 or more must be claimed using their drone coverage. Even though the majority of the accidents were minor, there were over 1000 drone incidents in 2016. Technical and mechanical errors caused most of these drone crashes (64% of the total accidents reported).
The FAA has other limits on the usage of UAS such as operational limitations, and a certified remote pilot in command. Essentially, the aircraft must be no more than 400 feet in the air, weigh no more than 55 pounds, be within a 3-mile radius of the operator, and have an insured operator that has completed an on-line certification by the TSA.
Even though there are increasing restrictions on the usage of drones, the usage of the machines continues to grow. The unmanned aircraft system is quickly becoming an integral part of home inspectors toolkits. These UAS are used for several reasons. They are quicker and agiler than their human counterparts. Their remote-controlled speed and their ability to have fewer employees involved in the process make it a sensible option. They are much less expensive than hiring a manned aircraft, with lower airspace restrictions. Additionally, it is immensely safer and more precise for the inspectors looking at hard to reach spots. Places where not even dangerous ladders are accessible to reach, resulting in more accurate reports. As an inspector, it is obvious to understand the benefits outweigh the negatives of operating a drone. If you are using a drone for any business purpose, you must have it insured. Please give Elite MGA a call or fill out the form and someone can give you further details on what type of UAS insurance you need.