Using a drone for business? What you need to know

Feb 14, 2017 2 minute read

Using a drone for business? What you need to know

The increasing accessibility and popularity of drones, or unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), has created opportunities for tech-savvy businesses to stand out.

What types of businesses are using drones? There are practical and clear uses for businesses such as independent photographers and media organizations. Future business opportunities could expand to couriers, such as Amazon’s conceptual drone-based delivery system.

However, many other industries and businesses have discovered drones to be an effective tool. In the UK, the agriculture sector has been the biggest driver of drone sales. The industry made up 48 per cent of all commercial drone sales in 2015. According to Juniper Research, utilizing drones for crop surveying saves time and money in comparison to surveying on the ground or by traditional aircraft.

As the demand for drones for commercial purposes has grown, so too has the need for rules and regulations.

Commercial drone flying in Canada

Transport Canada has developed safety guidelines and requirements for using a drone for commercial or research purposes.

Some simple guidelines all drone operators should follow include:

  • Fly during daylight hours and good weather conditions
  • Operate your drone within line of sight
  • Ensure your drone is safe for flight before taking off (consider creating a safety checklist that includes checking batteries, controls)
  • Respect privacy by not flying over private property

Things to avoid when operating a drone include:

  • Don’t fly in poor visibility conditions
  • Avoid flying within nine km of an airport or other protected airspaces
  • Flying higher than 90 m
  • Don’t operate within 150 m of buildings, vehicles or people
  • Avoid flying anywhere that could disrupt first responders

Most flights require the operator obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC), which you can learn about here (there are some exemptions for flying drones under 25 kg, but these exemptions require additional training).

Additionally, Transport Canada commercial drone operators are required to carry a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage.

Drone Insurance in Canada

For most businesses considering drones as a tool in their operations, additional insurance coverage is needed. If a business uses drones in up to 50 per cent of its services and operations it would be considered a supplemental option to existing commercial insurance, meaning the business would need to purchase additional insurance coverage. The above scenario would apply for businesses where the drone is considered incidental (or occasional) use to the business operations.

For example, a photographer who carries existing insurance for their operations could add additional coverage as long as the drone use makes up less than half of the services offered. If drone photography was the exclusive service, different insurance coverage options would need to be explored.

As more businesses use drones as part of daily operations, it’s important to be aware of what types of business insurance coverage you need. Contact a BrokerLink broker to learn what options best meet your needs.