The speakers in this PRIMA 2016 session were Ben Eggert, Esq., Wiley Rein, LLP; Gerard Finley, CPCU, Munich Reinsurance America, Inc.; Sarah Perry, Risk Manager, Columbia, MO and Richard Spiers, CPCU, ARM, Are, VP Claims, Genesis Management and Insurance Services.
Drones are quickly becoming a technological innovation employed by public entities and businesses nationwide. While drones are a heavily regulated technology, the risks and exposure are far from certain and change from year to year as the laws and technologies develop constantly.
There are several ways drones are being used within public entities.
- Police use – for surveillance/photography, traffic monitoring, inspection and accident reconstruction
- Infrastructure inspections – for roofs, bridges, roads, rivers and levees and outlying fields
- Utility inspections – for electrical and telephone wire towers, oil pipes, wind and water turbines, dams and power plants and substations
- Fire and emergency departments – for fire suppression, roof inspections, search and rescue
Within the legal framework for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), there are three areas of legislation – federal, state and local laws.
More than 30 municipalities have passed their own ordinances/laws regarding the use of drones including Miami, Chicago, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. Some other municipalities have banned the use of drones altogether from flying within airspace of their city, including Iowa City, IA and Northampton, MA.
The FAA has responded as follows: “If municipalities enacted ordinances regulating UAS in the navigable airspace and a significant number of municipalities followed suit, fractionalized control of the navigable airspace could result. In turn, this ‘patchwork quilt’ of differing restrictions could severely limit the flexibility of FAA in controlling the airspace and flight patterns, and ensuring safety and an efficient air traffic flow. A navigable airspace free from inconsistent state and local restrictions is essential to the maintenance of a safe and sound air transportation system.”
Drone Concerns and Exposures:
There are several drone-related safety and others concerns that were briefly discussed, including the following:
- Surveillance and privacy rights – ACLU involvement
- Privacy safeguards
- Drone proliferation/air traffic jams
- Park service safety
- State and federal oversight/statutes
- FAA rules/permits/licensing
There are also many risks with different types of exposures, including:
- Property damage
- Bodily injury
- Invasion of privacy
- Cyber attack
- Operators & public officials
Make sure you are adequately covered for these exposures!