UAVs: KILLER DRONES OR SAFETY EQUIPMENT?

744 400 Kabir Shaal

This article is for the Canadian insurance, IA, roofing, and restoration industries and is based on current Transport Canada regulations.

UAVs are becoming more visible in the insurance, IA, roofing, and restoration workplaces and it is important for potential new entrants to separate relevant facts from general perceptions. This will allow for rational decisions when planning ahead.

Here are a few worrying barriers that are offered up regularly:

1.     Drones can collide with aircraft and cause them to crash: Although this hasn’t happened, it’s an awful scenario. However, UAVs used in the industries listed above rarely fly higher than 200ft. The vast majority of flights are under 150ft and many are below 100ft. You’d have to be at the perimeter of an airport to create a risk of any sort at that height. Transport Canada has regulations to manage this risk. The regulations work.

2.     Drones may fall on people or property on the ground: Transport Canada regulations remove a lot of the people-related risk – in a nutshell, you’re not allowed to fly over people not related to the operation. Yes, property can be damaged by a falling drone; however, even an out-of-control drone will usually land automatically and not plummet to the ground.

3.     Drone crashes cause financial loss to the owner: Yes. Just like any other property damaged in an accident. That’s what insurance is for.

4.     Drone batteries catch fire: Yes, that’s possible. But it’s rare and regulations are in place to govern how batteries are carried on public transport – particularly aircraft.

5.     Drones trigger invasion of privacy issues: So do tall ladders and roofers going about their work. Anyone who has flown a drone knows it is very unlikely that you can stealthily overfly people. UAVs make noise. Not a lot but enough to alert people below. Forget about flying at night – red and green flashing lights, noise, and camera capabilities just about eliminate that possibility.

I’m not trying to gloss over the risks. Anything with a motor and batteries is a risk to people to some degree. Also, to put it as delicately as possible, you cannot cure stupid so things will happen. However, there are enough professional, sensible, law-abiding, and conscientious people to make this UAV thing a positive reality within the industries listed at the beginning of this post.

One last thing: UAVs allow people to stay off tall structures. I don’t want to use dreadful statistics to prove the point (try Google if you want to find out); however, about a third of construction fatalities are from people falling off roofs. Use of UAVs surely won’t make a huge dent in this statistic but at least a few fatalities and many injuries can be prevented. Think about this: guaranteed lives saved and injuries prevented vs concerns about the unknown.

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