If, in the unfortunate event of an accident involving a drone occurs and a claim needs to be made, the process is often not as clear as what it is in other markets. This is primarily due to the fact the drone space has been an emerging market in years gone by and there is no long standing precedent to use in said event.
However, insurance firms, often backed by underwriters who do have knowledge of other markets, are on hand to assist pilots and the companies using the drones with the claims process from what went wrong, how it works, and how such an accident could be avoided in the future.
CDP uncovers how the process works, how it differs for recreational users and what the biggest cause of claims are:
Can you give an insight into how the claims process works for commercial pilots?
Firstly, we would ask the policyholder to complete the online claims form and upload certain items of information. These are things such as a copy of their operations manual, PfCO etc. The claim will then be allocated to an authorised claims handler.
For property damage (e.g. a damaged drone), we would have this inspected by an authorised repair centre to determine if it is repairable or if it is a total loss, after which, we would authorise the repairs or a replacement subject to the client paying the excess.
If we receive all of the required information swiftly, we aim to complete the claims process in 48 hours. We pride ourselves in our extremely efficient claims service that has been welcomed by many commercial operators.
How does this differ for recreational users?
The process for recreational users is very similar to that of commercial operators apart from the information requested differs slightly. Items such as operations manual, PfCO etc. do not apply to recreational users.
What is the biggest cause of claims and how can pilots try to avoid this?
Our biggest cause of claims is due to pilot error. It is important that drone pilots are aware of situations that can cause poor performance. There are many human elements that can drastically affect a flight. Being aware of these can help pilots to conduct the safest flight possible. Below is a list of human factors to be aware of:
Poor Communication: This is one of the main contributing factors in the accident reports we receive. This is because the information being exchanged within the team is unclear or inaccessible and the person receiving the information may make assumptions about the meaning of the information.
We recommend that detailed information being passed between yourself and your team is written down. For example, logbooks, checklists and worksheets are useful resources to use. Verbal messages can therefore be kept short. As the remote pilot, always give your team the chance to ask questions before a flight so that no assumptions are made.
Lack of Knowledge: Aircraft systems are complex pieces of equipment, and it is therefore vital that pilots go through the substantial and necessary training in order to operate safely. Furthermore, lack of on-the-job experience may lead to pilots misjudging situations and making risky decisions. As drone systems continue to develop, pilot’s knowledge and experience with the product may quickly become out of date. It is important that pilots undertake continuous professional development and that they share their knowledge with other colleagues in the industry. Checklists and CAA publications are good methods to follow and refer to so that assumptions are not made.
Lack of Resources: Regardless of the task, resources also include personnel, time, data, tools, skill and experience. A lack of any one of these can affect a person’s ability to complete the task efficiently. When proper resources are available there is a greater chance that the task can be completed more effectively, correctly and efficiently.
Pressure: If you are operating commercially, you may experience pressure from your client to complete a job within a specific time frame. This can interfere with the quality of your performance, which is therefore endangering the safety of the flight. Always ensure that any work you commit to can be dealt with in an unpressurised environment.
Other elements to consider are complacency, distraction, lack of teamwork, fatigue, stress, lack of assertiveness and lack of awareness.