The rapid expansion of commercial and civil drones, their wider use and operation could create a substantial challenge to policy regulators, insurance companies, industry players and users according to World Commercial and Civil UAV Market Report 2015÷2025. Drones have been initially developed for military use but are now increasingly used for commercial and civil purposes. Currently drones are employed for critical infrastructure and civil protection, first responder markets (specifically for disaster management, fire-fighting, search and rescue), environmental protection, inspection and monitoring (specifically of grids, gas pipelines, nuclear power plant, wind and solar power plants), law enforcement and surveillance, journalism, commercial activities and leisure, while it is foreseen that in the future they will also be more and more employed for the missions, such as agriculture, energy, transport of goods and cargo - and even of people.
Many countries plan to increase their use of drones, while industry, small and medium enterprises and private companies have a growing interest in the manufacturing, selling and use of drones to monitor their activities or provide goods and services to clients. Being currently available on the market at affordable prices, their use has been projected to increase exponentially according to World Commercial and Civil UAV Market Report 2015÷2025.
The current and prospective development of drones has a series of positive impacts, notably for employment, SMEs and industrial development, and has a potential to generate growth and jobs. Drones can carry out operations in emergency situations, where human intervention is either impossible or difficult (drones could help save lives in operations of humanitarian relief, search and rescue at sea, when nuclear accidents or natural disasters occur, etc).
As with any technology, there are also risks to be taken into serious account by stakeholders, regulators, institutions and citizens in order to prevent, minimize and counter the potential negative impacts of some applications of drone technology. This is especially the case in the absence of proper regulation or/and when drones are used in illegal, unsafe or irresponsible ways.
In terms of security and safety, drones have a series of considerable and serious risks. As reported by the media, drones have been spotted over airports or close to them, disrupting or/and threatening civil aviation; have crashed on the ground; have been flown over critical infrastructure, embassies or tourist attractions; have injured people. The prospective increase in the number of drones flying at different heights (including in the space currently reserved for civil aviation), in different directions (drones normally change direction multiple times, on the basis of pilots' orders) and areas, with different weights and speeds, over people and private properties, poses serious challenges according to World Commercial and Civil UAV Market Report 2015÷2025.
These elements show that drones create a series of concrete risks for safety, security and the fundamental rights of persons, which have to be addressed seriously. For all of the above-mentioned reasons proper insurance solutions are to be used in operations and use of commercial and civil drones. Some issues to be addressed and covered with drones’ insurance solution might be as follows:
- Public/Products Liability insurance up to the specific money amount
- Cover for operating at ‘high-risk’ premises, over water and indoors
- National (International) wide cover
- Loss or damage to the drone and its associated equipment (payload)
- Full cover whilst in flight, and in transit
- Aviation Liability cover (war, hi-jacking, etc.)
- Other risks and damages
The technological environment to ensure the secure and safe integration of drones in the commercial civil aviation system does not yet seem to be reliable enough, as communications can be easily lost or hijacked, the detect and avoid systems are not by default installed on drones and systems to block their access into no-fly zones (geo-fencing) are not in place. Responsibility and liability for drones' use is not yet guaranteed, as identification of the owners or pilots is not required in the many countries, making transparency or law enforcement action almost impossible.
Obviously the global commercial and civil drones industry at the moment is facing difficulties in proper identification, evaluation and assessment of drone-related liability, which leads logically to various obstacles to effectively insure drones and the companies and/or private individuals that use them.
More information about the challenging global commercial and civil drones market you may read here: World Commercial and Civil UAV Market Report 2015÷2025.