Drones - Insuring them for your Farm
When people think about drones, many envision warfare and weaponry. But the use of
unmanned aerial vehicles is becoming more common in a number of industries and is
now seeing rapid adoption in agriculture. Tasks such as crop scouting to monitor growth
conditions in various locations on the farm can be accomplished much more efficiently
through the use of remotely piloted drones. What used to take hours of walking the
fields can be accomplished in a fraction of the time.
Ranchers can now check on cattle and determine whether water
tanks are full without leaving the office. The first agricultural uses of drones began through
cooperatives, but more and more farmers are seeing the benefits.
With growing availability and pricing as low as a few hundred
dollars for a camera-mounted unit, unmanned aerial vehicles
look to be the next wave of farm technology.
Agricultural usage of drones is currently on hold since the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a ruling banning
commercial use in July. FAA has a deadline to develop guidelines for legal use by 2015.
In the meantime, as with any emerging technology, innovation brings new insurance
considerations and Nationwide® Agribusiness is taking the lead to
stay ahead of our farm customers’ needs.
“As the use of drones increased, we realized there was a gap in
coverage,” said Erin Cumings, Underwriting Director, Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance
Company, Des Moines, IA. “Insurance policies for farmers and agribusinesses have typically
excluded liability coverage for aircraft. To keep up with the technology and with customers’
needs, we needed to address that issue. We want to make sure our customers are covered
appropriately.” Drones are an issue some insurance companies haven’t wanted to tackle. “Some
insurance companies indicated they’re not interested in covering drones mostly because of the
privacy aspects you might potentially have,” she said. “We recognize that potential exists
but, based on the quality of our customers, we feel it’s a smaller risk. We see the use of drones
becoming essential for the ag economy, so we need to be able to provide a solution.”
Nationwide® Agribusiness will begin writing coverage for farm customers using drones effective
in most states September 1, 2014. “It’s not a separate policy,” Cumings explained. “It’s an
endorsement we add to the policy we’re already providing for those
customers.” Note that the coverage is not yet available in California.
Nationwide Agribusiness is not charging for this added coverage.
“Since our customers are mainly using drones for crop scouting, we see this as an extension of their farming operation.
Our feeling is this is a coverage farmers and ranchers need to fully protect that part of their business,” Cumings said.
“We essentially built it into the liability portion of the coverage and are not charging an additional
“The drones we’re seeing used by farmers and even by agribusinesses, like co-ops, typically are relatively inexpensive.
While we occasionally receive requests to provide property coverage for farmer- or rancher owned drones,” Cumings
explained, “customers have been more interested in the liability piece so we are only offering liability coverage at the present time.”
As farms, ranches and agribusinesses move toward bigger and more expensive equipment and drone usage
expands into areas like fertilizer and chemical application, the price structure could change. “As with all our coverages, our
drone coverage will change as the industry and our customers’ operations change,” Cumings said. “We’re working to stay far enough
in front of our customers’ needs so we can help protect their assets and they’re not behind the curve.”
See us for your Farm Insurance review and coverage ideas. Call 740-992-6677
Insurance PLUS Agencies Inc. 114 Court St. Pomeroy, Ohio 45769