Zurich Canada Launches Drone Insurance Product for Corporate Clients

April 2, 2015

Zurich Canada announced that it has “launched a new insurance product that will help its customers across a range of industries take advantage of the risk mitigation and cost saving opportunities available through the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly referred to as ‘drones.'”

The drone insurance package was “developed in partnership with UK-headquartered Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers Limited,” a provider of aerospace insurance. Zurich said it “also closes an important coverage gap for companies already making use of drones in their operations.”

Urs Uhlmann, CEO of Zurich Global Corporate Canada said the company’s “customers in Canada will be the first ones around the world to have access to this unique insurance solution, thanks to the sophisticated regulatory environment governing the use of drones in Canada.”

The bulletin also noted that after the launch of the program in Canada, “Zurich’s drone insurance package will be rolled out globally on a country-by-country basis, based on local demand and the sophistication of the regulatory environment governing drones in each country.

“Previously, insurance coverage for drones was only available through specialist aviation insurers. Now, Zurich Canada’s customers in the areas of energy, communications and all the other industries where the use of drones has taken off, can access a simple risk transfer solution along with training tools and information for drone operators.”

Nick Brown, Group Chief Executive, Global Aerospace said: “We are proud to be partnering with Zurich to help them provide high quality UAS products to their customers. With the rapid growth of UAS applications around the world, this partnership has the potential to expand rapidly.”

Zurich also indicated that in conjunction with this new insurance product it “will be offering a range of services to help companies manage and mitigate drone-related risks. These services include access to online operations and safety training, risk management tools developed specifically for staff flying drones, updates on regulation and unique risk insights and expert advice.”

The bulletin pointed out that “using a drone for any commercial purpose is considered an aviation activity and will therefore fall under the broad aviation exclusions of most general liability policies, should a drone cause damage or injury.”

The drone policy provides companies with both first and third-party coverage for a variety of risks; including the following:
• First-party property coverage – for theft or damage to the drone and any ground equipment used to operate it, or any electronics or components (payload) carried.
• Third-party liability coverage – for property damage and bodily injury caused by the drone, premises liability at locations used in connection with scheduled aircraft, as well as medical expenses.
• Additional coverage extensions may include – malicious damage, system hacking, and personal injury.

Most of the attention paid to drones has “largely focused on military applications or nefarious activity,” Zurich said. However, “the use of drones in the public and private sectors has been rapidly increasing in recent years. In fact, market analysis from The Teal Group predicts that the global UAS market will almost double over the next 10 years to over US$ $91 billion, largely driven by expanding civilian use. Organizations in a wide variety of industries are finding new applications for drones all the time that eliminate the need for manned flight and solve problems that were otherwise expensive, labor intensive or risky.

Some of the many industries where drones have proved to be an efficient and effective risk management tool include the following:
• Oil and gas utilities – for aerial inspections of equipment such as pipelines in areas that are remote or difficult to access, and for quicker response to emergency situations such as fires.
• Communications (telephone companies and broadcasters) – for examination of structures like cellphone towers and broadcast antennas, eliminating the need for “tower climbers,” a notoriously dangerous profession.
• Mining – to conduct aerial surveys for mineral deposits or inspection of structural integrity in mine shafts.
• Security – for aerial reconnaissance, crowd monitoring, border surveillance and a variety of similar applications.
• Agriculture – to monitor crops and facilitate precise delivery of water, herbicides and pesticides where they are needed most.
• Media and entertainment – for use in journalism, filmmaking, sports broadcasting and other applications where in the past a helicopter was the only way to capture aerial images.

Zurich said it chose Canada as the first country in which to launch drone insurance because “unlike many other countries around the world, the regulatory environment for the commercial use of drones in Canada is quite sophisticated. For example, in the United States, it can be very difficult to obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization and Special Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for any non-military use for a drone.

“By contrast, Transport Canada has laid out very specific guidelines for how to obtain a Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC) for commercial drone operations where the weight of the drone exceeds 25 kg, or where the drone weighs between 2.1 and 25 kg but the operation can’t meet all the safety conditions for an SFOC exemption.

“Risks around drone use need to be carefully managed. The SFOC application asks for details such as the purpose of the operation, dates, times and locations of the flights, the boundaries of area where the drone will fly, and safety plans. Generally speaking, Transport Canada forbids operation of drones over or within built-up areas of cities or towns.

“Additionally, the Canadian Privacy Commission has also explicitly stated that drone operations are governed by Canada’s privacy laws, including the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). With Zurich’s new insurance product for drones, supported by training tools and other expert insights, companies operating in Canada can manage these risks while getting the full benefit of using drones in their operations.”

In conclusion Uhlmann said: “The market for drones is evolving rapidly and more and more companies and industries are taking advantage of the benefits they offer. We see great potential for drones to reduce risk for workers by taking over dangerous tasks, among many other applications. Zurich’s drone insurance package will allow our customers to seize that potential.”

Source: Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich)

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