Rise in drones a liability nightmare: John O’Brien

Rise in drones a liability nightmare: John O’Brien
Rise in drones a liability nightmare: John O’Brien


Drones are quickly becoming the new buzz in the business world.

These remotely piloted aircraft have grown in popularity in recent years not only for recreational use, but also in commercial applications. This includes industries like real estate, tourism, insurance, mining, engineering, marketing, entertainment and sports.

The possibilities are endless for all sectors of business to encompass this new technology and with the new relaxed regulations, implementing the use of drones is now an affordable and efficient option.

As demand grows these virtual-eyes are proving their worth in many Australian businesses. But is this new and fascinating technology exposing these industry leading businesses to serious liability? 

For any business utilising this ground-breaking technology, it is important to have adequate and specialised cover.

Not only is it important to protect your investment, but also in consideration to possible liability cases.

A remotely piloted aircraft or drone is defined as an Aircraft1. Under the Damage by Aircraft Act2; owners and operators have strict liability both jointly and individually.

It is imperative that your business understands the implication of strict liability before operating the Drone commercially.

Businesses also need to understand that choosing to operate without adequate insurance could lead to serious liability under the Damage by Aircraft Act3.

It is important to all businesses who operate drones to fully understand the operational limitations imposed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

What is a commercial operation?

  • Any operation which is not conducted for sport or recreation is considered commercial.
  • Even if the use of the drone was not used specifically for selling that businesses services, the use can still be deemed commercial. 

Analysis conducted at QBE Aviation in conjunction with external data input indicates common cause of loss when it comes to utilising drone technology.

This includes pilot error during pre-flight and flight, wildlife and battery degradation due to excessive use.

To completely understand the legal operational limitations, O’Brien also suggests all business owners who utilise drones to become members of the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS) and also obtain a Remote Operators Certificate (ReOC).

It’s also good professional practise to ensure the owners and controllers of the Drone are correctly trained.

This should be done by a registered training organisation.

John O’Brien is the Director of Kobe Insurance. He can be contacted here.

Insurance Drones

Community Discussion

Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?