Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are becoming increasingly mainstream. During the 2015 holiday season, the U.S. government estimated that more than one million were sold, with the market projected to grow exponentially, particularly for commercial and personal use. While drones may be fun to fly, they are considered aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and as such, are excluded from liability coverage under most General Liability policies. Common policy language would exclude coverage for both bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use or entrustment to others of any “aircraft” owned or operated by or rented or loaned to any insured. Their FAA regulation pertains to rules and guidelines that apply when drones are flying over crowds, etc.
The use of drones at golf and country clubs continues to grow. It is now fairly common to use drones to film the golf course, country club grounds, golf tournaments, junior activities and various social events. While the likelihood of either bodily injury or property damage from drone use at clubs may seem minor, the exposures will only grow as they become more widely used.
If a club decides to purchase a drone for these any of these types of uses, it should investigate and procure separate specialty insurance for liability and physical damage. Fortunately, both of these coverages are available without being too expensive. Premiums range from $800 to $1,500 for most of the types of activities that clubs will be involved with, and broader options will be available as this market expands.
If a club hires any outside parties that use drones on their premises, it should ensure that proper indemnification language is included in the contract along with stipulations that the vendor has proper liability insurance naming the club as an additional insured. In addition, make sure the vendors are following all necessary rules that may be required by the FAA. This information can be located by visiting faa.gov/uas.
Tom Walker is area executive vice president for RPS-Bollinger – Sports & Leisure. He has served on several club boards and committees, and is a recognized authority on club insurance issues. He can be reached at 800-446-5311 (ext. 8098) or [email protected]