The Benefits and Risks of Using Drones in Construction

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Drones are becoming used in all sorts of industries, including real estate and construction. While there are definitely benefits from using drones in many different industries, there are risks to consider, as well. It’s estimated by the FAA that over 7500 small commercial drones will be in use by general contractors and construction tradespeople by 2018. What will they be used for? Many of them will be used for automating inspections, site surveys, and mapping materials. They can also be used for providing live video feeds of the job site to make sure that all workers are working safely and using their fall-prevention equipment properly.

With the benefits obviously clear, what about the risks? The number one risk is pilot error. There’s also the possibility of GPS failure and accidentally running into utility lines. From an insurance perspective, there are some guidelines that should be followed in order to reduce risk and of course liability in the case of an accident. Keep in mind that drones are in fact unmanned aircraft and must be regulated as such.

Here are some things for construction and real estate companies to keep in mind if they are looking to invest in drones.

  • The drone must be registered with the FAA and approved for commercial use.
  • The weight & payload of the drone must be under 55 lbs., by FAA rules.
  • Drone operators must have proper certification and experience with the type of drone being used.
  • The purpose and use of the drone must be in accordance with the FAA exemption.
  • Maintenance of the drone must follow its manufacturer’s specifications.

Be sure to know your state’s regulations when it comes to the use of drones, as their use in business varies from state to state. Here’s the current state-by-state breakdown of what is specifically allowed and prohibited with drone activity. It’s especially important for your insurance broker and underwriter to understand the potential liabilities of using drones and make sure that you’re covered in the event that your drone crash lands!