Connect Insurance understand the risks involved when operating unmanned aerial systems (UAS), unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV), and small unmanned aircraft (SUA) collectively known as drones.
We can obtain a competitive quote specifically designed for the exposure faced by drone users for commercial purposes. We can offer UAV Insurance, UAS Insurance, and Drone Insurance for unmanned aircraft which are being used for commercial purposes.
Our clients are able to speak with the same staff member(s) throughout the cycle of their policy with us, and we will always offer a range of insurance products from a panel of insurers to ensure we can cater to the requirements of our clients.
Our drone insurance policies will ensure you comply with EU Regulation 785/2004
Flight Assessment Exam Cover
Public Liability up to £10 million
Damage To/ Loss Of Drone
Associated Equipment Cover
24hr Claims Helpline
In Transit Cover
Employer Liability Cover Available
The term drone is widely used to describe unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In brief a “drone” is a machine that can fly autonomously with software controlled flight plans, or from a remote control device. Drones come in all shapes and sizes, with many features, functionality and optional extras. The drone market is rapidly expanding with constant intuitive additions
Are drones easy to control?
A common feature of the latest consumer models of drone is GPS Position Hold technology; this attempts to stabilise the current location, heading and altitude of the drone to essentially “loiter” by locking the three principle axes of flight dynamics (roll, pitch and yaw). This is better handled by multi-rotor drones.
When learning to control a lightweight drone, there is a projected period of approximately two weeks for an operator to feel confident with flight, with first time drone pilots being encouraged to practice in large open spaces focusing on orientation and operating at a safe altitude. Consumer drones can typically fly at a range of 500 to 1000 metres; this range dictates the highest possible altitude your drone can reach before you would lose RLOS (radio line of sight) and result in Lost Link (meaning you lose control of the drone as it passes outside the range of control).
Pay close attention to battery size and life when operating your drone. Flight time will vary greatly depending on the battery capabilities of your model. A typical consumer drone such as those fitted with a GoPro camera will fly for approximately 25 minutes, whereas those with higher lifting capacity will deplete their battery within around 15 minutes due to power output required to compensate for the extra weight. The term “take-off weight” refers to the maximum weight that the drone can lift including itself; this means that a drone weighing 10kg with a take-off weight of 15kg would be able to carry a 5kg payload. Heavy lift drones are multi rotor aircrafts that can carry a significant payload usually in excess of it’s own weight; these drones will often have larger batteries and props than any consumer “hobby” drone.
Drone Insurance is very important to ensure you are not breaching any drone law regulation that could ultimately result in criminal prosecution, and also to avoid costly claims in the event of public liability. No operator of a drone intends to damage any third party property (such as vehicles or structures), however in the event of Lost Link (loss of command and control link with a remotely-piloted aircraft) there is the potential for an expensive claim against an operators assumed negligence. In the event that loss of control causes physical injury to a third party (for instance loss of sight caused by a rotating propeller), the costs could escalate astronomically.
What is drone insurance
Drone Insurance gives public liability for up to £10 million for damage or injury to any third party. Insurance is also available for damage or loss to the drone, associated drone equipment, employer’s liability cover to cover a business’ employees. Also drone insurance cover can be purchased for the flight assessment exam commercial users need to take.
There are very specific compliance regulations for operators of unmanned aircrafts; any operator of a unmanned aircraft is advised to consult the Insurance Requirements for Air Carriers and Aircraft Operators to ascertain the minimum level of insurance required.
Other reference material that may be useful:
2015 Briefing on Civil drones in the European Union
European Aviation Safety Agency – Civil drones (Unmanned aircraft)
European Aviation Safety Agency – Flying a Drone Leaflet
UK Parliament – Civilian Use of Drones in the EU – European Union Committee
Drones come in all shapes and sizes depending on the purpose of their use. Drones commonly come in either Quad, Hex or Octo categories; these prefixes refer to the number of rotors. A Quadcopter has four rotors, a Hexacopter has six rotors, and an Octocopter has eight rotors. The more rotors a drone has, the more stable it is and easier it is to control. Increased numbers of rotors also provide the drone with more lifting power which is essential for aerial drones used for professional photography to ensure the heavy cameras can be carried. An added benefit of Hexacopter Drones and Octocopter Drones is that some can still fly if a motor or ESC (electronic speed controller) fails mid flight; whilst not ideal, most drones with additional rotors can usually return home suitably, whereas a Quadcopter Drone would be compromised by a failure and resultantly suffer from a break in RLOS (radio line of sight) and crash, potentially damaging the drone or causing third party damage in the process.
- Battery Life – On average drones can only fly for around 20 minutes before their battery life depletes. Spare batteries should be budgeted for to ensure you never have to cut your fun short.
- FPV – First person view allows the operator to “see” as their drone does, often via a video downlink from the camera on the drone transmitting to an LCD monitor or a smart phone/tablet. This functionality is essential for a videographer and highly recommended for any photographer.
- Gimbal – A pivot point that allows rotation; a 3-axis gimbal essentially provides the same functionality as a gyroscope such as those used for ballistic missile guidance systems. Gimbals afford pan and tilt functionality for cameras mounted on drones.
- GPS-Based Autopilot – This feature provides desirable options of smart flight controls including “follow me” and “auto return to home” functions amongst others.
- Waterproof – Most consumer drones should not be operated in the rain; this is because many motors are not waterproofed and the ESC reaches high temperatures requiring ventilation. Some manufacturers are producing waterproof drones but this is not a typical feature of most consumer level hobby drones.
So you wanted a drone, but couldn’t justify the price tag for what would essentially be a “toy”? Well we have good news. Lately we have seen Drones become much more mainstream and widely utilised for professions such as photographers, videographers and site surveyors.
Is a licence required to fly a drone?
Where a drone is being used for commercial purposes, the law dictates that the operator must acquire ‘Operating Permission’ (Permission to Fly) from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority). If the drone you intend to use exceeds 20kg in weight when fully equipped, you will also need a special licence for “Airworthiness Approval” from the CAA to fly it in the UK. You can find a range of regulatory and law guidance information in the FAQ menu of this website.
Where can I fly my drone?
When operating a drone, it is important to always ensure you do not fly within 50 metres of any person, vehicle or structure (such as a building). Even with the drone in your VLOS (visual line of sight) do not control it over congested areas such as sports events and music festivals. The drone should be operated in large open spaces to ensure there is no danger presented to third parties. Public liability Insurance should be arranged to protect you from claims in the event that an accident does occur.
What commercial use is there for my drone?
Using a drone for commercial purposes is typically in the niche of photography and surveyance. Good examples include wedding photography and the construction industry. Amazon have recently been looking into the potential for using drones as a delivery method in the distribution sector under their service named Amazon Prime Air. Beyond these industries, american company Fly4Me has been subcontracting it’s drone services to commercial sectors such as golf courses, solar panel installers (for roof dimensions and shading data for panel placements), alongside infrastructure inspections. Other commercial sectors currently being considered for the benefits of drone use include mining, farming and agriculture, disaster response and premises security.
It is important that when operating an unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera or video, you remain aware of the regulations regarding privacy.
The digital age and the increasing availability of affordable cameras has resulted in an large increase of adept photographers and videographers; the introduction of drones to the field has resulted in a surge of interest for aerial photography. Though many drones boast their camera-equipped capabilities, it is worth knowing that not all “off the shelf” solutions are suitable for professional photography. Experts in the field of professional photography advise a minimum spec of 1080p resolution at 60 fps (frames per second) for video, and a minimum 12 megapixel for still image captures.
What is “Aerial Photography”?
Anything shot from the air, whether it be video or photos can be called aerial photography. In the past the most common Aerial Photography was done from helicopters; thanks to the range of battery powered multi-rotors on the market, aerial photography is now more accessible than ever before.
Which camera drone is best?
Just like the old saying “the best camera is the one that you have with you”, this applies to camera drones as well. With a few exceptions the ‘best camera drone’ (for video/photography) could be any with a gimbal, a decent flight range and some sort of FPV setup.
Can drones be used for seascape photography?
Drones can be used for seascape photography, and for flight over bodies of water, as long as the operator pays attention to the altitude. Sea spray and seawater in general can be very corrosive where any motor or electronics are concerned. As drones are not commonly waterproof, submersion in water should be avoided to prevent damage to, or destruction of your drone.
A brief overview of the basics of UK law and regulation surrounding drone operation:
- You are legally responsible for the safe conduct of each flight.
- Before each flight check that your drone is un-damaged and that all components are working in accordance with the user manual.
- You must keep your drone within your sights at all times.
- You are responsible for avoiding collisions.
- It is illegal to fly your drone over a congested area or airports and airfields.
- Do not fly your drone within 50 metres of a person, vehicle, building, pylon or overhead groups of people at any height.
- Be wary of the use of your images as you may break privacy laws.
- If you are using your drone for commercial activity you must get a permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.
- Obtain liability and damage insurance from us at www.comparedrone.co.uk
To ensure the safety and privacy of others, certain rules and regulations apply to the use of Drones.
Below is a list of resources that will help increase your awareness about regulatory law surrounding the use of Drones for private or commercial purposes.
- Civil Aviation Authority – The Dronecode
- Civil Aviation Authority – Specific regulations about small unmanned aircrafts.
- Civil Aviation Authority – Guidance on registration and airworthiness approval for unmanned aircraft.
- TNS UK Ltd – Drones Public Dialogue
- Civil Aviation Authority – Requirements for operating in airspace.
- Civil Aviation Authority – Insurance requirements for operators.
- FPV UK – Drone Law Guidance
The CAA, or Civil Aviation Authority, have structured a qualification that ensures pilots of any aircraft have fundamental understandings of applicable regulations relating to aviation of drones.
The most important regulations for which any pilot should be sufficienty educated on, are the ANO (Air Navigation Order) and also the Rules of the Air Regulations. Any potential pilot will need to demonstrate competence with a ground exam and flight test before operating permission will be issued by the CAA.
Courses in piloting competence for drones are ran by approved commercial National Qualified Entities (NQE’s) on behalf of the CAA. A list of the NQE’s can be viewed here.
The law often has ambiguous grey areas with blurred lines that confuse even the most articulate of people. The foreward of the ANO actually stipulates that: “It has been prepared for those concerned with day to day matters relating to Air Navigation who require an up to date version of the Orders and the Regulations mentioned above. It is edited by the Office of the General Counsel of the Civil Aviation Authority. Courts of Law will however refer only to the Queen’s Printer’s Edition of Statutory Instruments.”
The ANO refers to the “Air Navigation: The Order and Regulations” as edited by the Office of the General Counsel of the Civil Aviation Authority; there are only two articles really relevant to the use of drones (unmanned aircraft), those being Article 166 and 167. The contents of these articles can be viewed below. If you would rather view the ANO in it’s entirety, please see here.
Article 166: Small unmanned aircraft
(1) A person must not cause or permit any article or animal (whether or not attached to a parachute) to be dropped from a small unmanned aircraft so as to endanger persons or property.
(2) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.
(3) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.
(4) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft which has a mass of more than 7kg excluding its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight, must not fly the aircraft:
(a) in Class A, C, D or E airspace unless the permission of the appropriate air traffic control unit has been obtained;
(b) within an aerodrome traffic zone during the notified hours of watch of the air traffic control unit (if any) at that aerodrome unless the permission of any such air traffic control unit has been obtained; or
(c) at a height of more than 400 feet above the surface unless it is flying in airspace described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b) and in accordance with the requirements for that airspace.
(5) The person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the purposes of aerial work except in accordance with a permission granted by the CAA.
Article 167: Small unmanned surveillance aircraft
(1) The person in charge of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft in any of the circumstances described in paragraph (2) except in accordance with a permission issued by the CAA.
(2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph (1) are:
(a) over or within 150 metres of any congested area; CAP 393 Section 1: Part 22: Aircraft in Flight
(b) over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
(c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft; or
(d) subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), within 50 metres of any person.
(3) Subject to paragraph (4), during take-off or landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft must not be flown within 30 metres of any person.
(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the person in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft.
(4) Paragraphs (2)(d) and (3) do not apply to the person in charge of the small unmanned surveillance aircraft or a person under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft
You are responsible for each flight; breach of rules enforced by the law could lead to criminal prosecution.
You are responsible for avoiding collisions. It is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight and is punishable with imprisonment for up to 5 years.
You must keep your drone in sight and below 400 feet in altitude.
When flying, you must always follow your manufacturers instructions.
Always remain aware of CAA’s law regarding safe distances from people, crowds and structures; For Camera fitted drones, this is 50m in all directions.
Please ensure you respect the privacy of others when operating a drone fitted with a camera, to avoid civil disputes regarding harrassment or invasion of privacy.
|Acronym / Abbreviation / Teminology||Definition|
|AAIB||Air Accidents Investigation Branch|
|ACAS||Airborne Collision Avoidance System|
|AIP||Aeronautical Information Publication|
|ANO||Air Navigation Order|
|ANSP||Air Navigation Service Provider|
|AOC||Air Operator Certificate|
|ATC||Air Traffic Control|
|ATM||Air Traffic Management|
|ATS||Air Traffic Service|
|ATSU||Air Traffic Service Unit|
|BMFA||British Model Flying Association|
|BRLOS||Beyond Radio Line of Sight|
|BRS||Ballistic Recovery Systems|
|BVLOS||Beyond Visual Line of Sight|
|CAA||Civil Aviation Authority|
|ConOps||Concept of Operations|
|CPL||Commercial Pilot Licence|
|CRM||Crew Resource Management|
|C2||Command and Control|
|DAA||Detect and Avoid|
|DAP||Directorate of Airspace Policy|
|EASA||European Aviation Safety Agency|
|ERF||Emergency Restriction of Flying|
|EVLOS||Extended Visual Line of Sight|
|FIR||Flight Information Region|
|FISO||Flight Information Service Officer|
|FMC||Flight Management Computer|
|FRTOL||Flight Radio Telephony Operators’ Licence|
|GCS||Ground Control Station|
|HALE||High Altitude Long Endurance|
|ICAO||International Civil Aviation Organisation|
|IFR||Instrument Flight Rules|
|IMC||Instrument Meteorological Conditions|
|JARUS||Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems|
|MAA||Military Aviation Authority|
|MALE||Medium Altitude Long Endurance|
|MOD||Ministry of Defence|
|MOR||Mandatory Occurrence Reporting|
|MRP||MAA Regulatory Publication(s)|
|MTOM||Maximum Take-off Mass|
|NAA||National Aviation Authority|
|NOTAM||Notice to Airmen|
|RA (T)||Restricted Area (Temporary)|
|RCS||Radar Cross Section|
|RLOS||Radio Line of Sight|
|RPA||Remotely Piloted Aircraft|
|RPAS||Remotely Piloted Aircraft System|
|RPS||Remote Pilot Station|
|RTS||Release to Service|
|SARPs||Standards and Recommended Practices|
|SARG||Safety and Airspace Regulation Group|
|SSR||Secondary Surveillance Radar|
|SUA||Small Unmanned Aircraft|
|SUSA||Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft|
|TCB||Type Certification Basis|
|TCAS||Traffic Collision Avoidance System|
|TDA||Temporary Danger Area|
|UAS||Unmanned Aircraft System(s)|
|UAS OSC||Unmanned Aircraft System(s) Operating Safety Case|
|UIR||Upper Flight Information Region|
|VFR||Visual Flight Rules|
|VLOS||Visual Line of Sight|
|Aircraft||Any machine that can derive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the air other than the reactions of the air against the Earth’s surface.|
|Air Navigation Order – CAP 393 Air Navigation:||The Order and the Regulations include the ANO and the Rules of the Air Regulations.|
|Autonomous Aircraft||An unmanned aircraft that does not allow pilot intervention in the management of the flight.|
|Autonomous Operation||An operation during which an unmanned aircraft is operating without pilot intervention in the management of flight.|
|Continued Airworthiness||The monitoring, reporting and corrective action processes used for in-service aircraft to assure they maintain the appropriate safety standard defined during the initial airworthiness processes throughout their operational life.|
|Continuing Airworthiness||The system of management of the aircraft and the scheduling and actioning of ongoing preventative and corrective maintenance to confirm correct functioning and to achieve safe, reliable and cost effective operation.|
|Command and Control Link (C2)||The data link between the remotely-piloted aircraft and the remote pilot station for the purposes of managing the flight.|
|Concept of Operations||Describes the characteristics of the organisation, system, operations and the objectives of the user.|
|Detect and Avoid||The capability to see, sense or detect conflicting traffic or other hazards and take the appropriate action.|
|Ground Control Station (GCS)||See ‘Remote Pilot Station’.|
|Handover||The act of passing piloting control from one remote pilot station to another.|
|High Authority||Those systems that can evaluate data, select a course of action and implement that action without the need for human input.|
|Highly Automated||Those systems that still require inputs from a human operator (e.g. confirmation of a proposed action) but which can implement the action without further human interaction once the initial input has been provided.|
|Initial Airworthiness||The system used to determine the applicable requirements and establish that an aircraft design is demonstrated to be able to meet these requirements.|
|Lost Link||The loss of command and control link contact with the remotely-piloted aircraft such that the remote pilot can no longer manage the aircraft’s flight.|
|Operator||Operator – A person, organisation or enterprise engaged in or offering to engage in an aircraft operation. Note: In the context of remotely-piloted aircraft, an aircraft operation includes the remotelypiloted aircraft system.|
|Pilot||The person in direct control of the UA – See also ‘Remote Pilot’. Radio Line-Of-Sight (RLOS) – A direct radio link point-to-point contact between a transmitter and a receiver.|
|Radio Line-Of-Sight (RLOS)||A direct radio link point-to-point contact between a transmitter and a receiver.|
|Remote Pilot||A person charged by the operator with duties essential to the operation of a remotely-piloted aircraft and who manipulates the flight controls, as appropriate, during flight time.|
|Remotely Piloted Air System||A remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other material relevant to the operation of the remotely piloted aircraft system.|
|Remote Pilot Station (RPS)||The component of the remotely-piloted aircraft system containing the equipment used to pilot the remotely-piloted aircraft.|
|Remotely-Piloted Aircraft (RPA)||An unmanned aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station.|
|Remotely-Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)||A remotely piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components as specified in the type design.|
|RPA Observer||A trained and competent person designated by the operator who, by visual observation of the remotely-piloted aircraft, assists the remote pilot in the safe conduct of the flight.|
|RPAS Commander||A trained and competent person who is responsible for the conduct and safety of a specific flight and for supervising the person in direct control of the RPAS. His duties are equivalent to those of an Aircraft Commander.|
|Safety||The state in which risks associated with aviation activities, related to, or in direct support of the operation of aircraft, are reduced and controlled to an acceptable level.|
|Safety Management System (SMS)||A systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures.|
|Sense and Avoid||See ‘Detect and Avoid’.|
|Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA)||Any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or a kite, having a mass of not more than 20 kg without its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight.|
|Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA)||A small unmanned aircraft which is equipped to undertake any form of surveillance or data acquisition.|
|Unmanned Aircraft (UA)||An aircraft which is intended to operate with no human pilot on board, as part of an Unmanned Aircraft System. Moreover a UA: ? is capable of sustained flight by aerodynamic means; ? is remotely piloted and/or capable of degrees of automated or autonomous operation; ? is reusable; and ? is not classified as a guided weapon or similar one-shot device designed for the delivery of munitions. Note: RPA is considered a subset of UA.|
|Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)||An Unmanned Aircraft System comprises individual ‘System Elements’ consisting of the Unmanned Aircraft (UA) and any other System Elements necessary to enable flight, such as a Remote Pilot Station, Communication Link and Launch and Recovery Element. There may be multiple UAs, RPS or Launch and Recovery Elements within a UAS.|
|Visual Line-Of-Sight (VLOS) Operation||An operation in which the remote pilot or RPA observer maintains direct unaided visual contact with the remotely-piloted aircraft.|
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