Drones may be the ears and eyes of your farm but are they covered under your current commercial insurance policy? Three in four U.S. farmers (74%) are currently using or considering adopting the technology to assess, monitor, and manage their farm according to an April 2018 Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. survey of 269 U.S. farmers. However 76% of all respondents also said they have concerns related to drone usage: privacy issues (23%), cyber security concerns over data captured and transferred (20%), and potential damage or injury from the drone (17%).
“As Federal Aviation Administration regulations open up the skies to the use of commercial drones, we are seeing a growing investment in the technology by farmers focused on precision agriculture or smart farming,” said Jason Dunn, Strategic Products Expert, Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. “Whether a farm has less than 100 or more than 5,000 acres, drones can be the eyes and ears for farmers that want to efficiently and cost effectively monitor and manage crops, livestock and soil conditions. However, farmers may be exposing their business to new risks related to drone usage, and their insurance coverage may not have kept pace with the rapid development and use of this technology.”
Of those who currently use the technology, it is nearly split between farmers who contract with an outside company to operate their drones (49%) and farmers who handle drone usage on their own (51%). Eighty-three percent (83%) of respondents use drones on their farms either daily or once a week or more. Drones are used for or considered being used for crop monitoring (73%), soil and field analysis (46%), and health assessment of [crops and livestock] (43%).
“Fortunately, a majority of farmers are talking to their insurance company about their drone usage,” said Dunn. Sixty-five percent (65%) of survey respondents using drones have informed their insurance company; 16% plan to do so.
“Traditional commercial insurance policies don’t cover or offer very limited liability protection for drones,” Dunn said. “Farmers should speak with their agents or brokers to insure that their policy protects against privacy claims as well as bodily injury and property damage incurred as a result of drone usage.”
Munich Re America offers a Drone Liability Endorsement that can be attached to an existing commercial general liability insurance policy purchased through a participating insurance carrier. The endorsement, which provides bodily injury and property damage liability and/or personal injury liability coverage for drones that are under 55 pounds, is designed for small to medium size businesses and farm and agricultural operations in the U.S.