Some firms worry that their professional liability insurance might not cover them for drone usage. The Victor and CNA professional liability program provides coverage when professionals use drones as tools to perform their professional obligations. Firms using unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the drones often used to document new construction for evaluation by the design professional or to provide video evidence that supports a firm’s inspection of existing facilities, have coverage for such professional services.
The 2020 CNA policy form clarifies that coverage only applies if the underlying cause of action was a wrongful act or omission in the performance of professional services and not a wrongful act or omission in the operation of a business that happens to provide professional services.
Professional service firms have to be aware of their business risks and cover their exposures through appropriate insurance products or contractual indemnity provisions. Firms need many policies to cover their differing exposures. Drones are a tool for providing professional services, but drone operations create a different exposure. A firm using a drone may need special aircraft coverage or an endorsement to the firm’s general liability policy for any physical damage, invasion of privacy, and other general liability exposures drone usage could create. This would apply even if the firm hires an outside drone operator—the firm still has vicarious liability for the damage the drone can cause. Moreover, professional liability insurance never covers a criminal activity that could result from unpermitted drone operations.
With the CNA policy, your firm has coverage for using a drone to gather information while providing professional services. Your insurance advisor can examine the non-professional coverage you need for operating a drone. Firms that subcontract for drone operation services should make sure that the subcontractor has appropriate coverage for the physical damages and personal injuries a drone could cause. And a drone operator should contractually agree to stand behind its services through an indemnification obligation that protects the professional service firm. In addition, your firm should check its general liability and management liability policies to confirm that you have coverage if held responsible for negligence in the selection and management of a drone operator who does not have appropriate coverage.
More information on drone coverage is available on the Victor website. We also have a more detailed article about the risks of drone usage in performing professional services.