Discussion of Business Opportunity With Drones

Dr. Darryl Jenkins, author of the recent AUVSI report on the Economic Impact of Drones, spoke last week with the DC Area Drone User Group about business opportunities using drone technology. The report notes that drones will help create more than 70,000 new American jobs and stimulate $13.6 billion in economic activity during the first three years following their integration into U.S. skies. However, during his talk Dr. Jenkins stated that, according to new models he is developing, these numbers significantly underestimated the economic impact of drones for the U.S. economy.

Dr. Jenkins also suggested that it was insurance companies, and not government regulation, which would have the biggest impact on what businesses would develop around UAVs. Without insurance it is impossible to get VC funding or bank loans, and without financing it is very difficult to grow a business, so access to insurance is foundational in creating a strong business ecosystem for growing UAV enterprises. 

Dr. Jenkins also noted that insurance company policies may be able to encourage respect for privacy by simply stating that anyone using their drones to invade someone’s privacy would lose their insurance coverage. Therefore if a tabloid outlet or private investigator was found trying to illegally film celebrities sunbathing at home they would lost their insurance and thus their access to capital. This would create strong disincentives to misuse these platforms.

To view the slides Dr Jenkins presentation please click on this link. The DC Area Drone User Group is a member of the Drone User Group Network, an association of community groups that seek to promote the use of flying robots for community service, artistic, entrepreneurial, and recreational purposes. If you are interested in starting a Drone User Group in your area, please contact us at info@dcdrone.org .


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Comment by Greg on June 17, 2013 at 10:34pm
Thanks for an interesting presentation.
I'm a UAV operator in the UK (for over 3 years now) and have good operator and hull insurance.
A number of insurance companies here are being very good in going ahead with the unknown.
I've been dreading the day when premiums would rise dramatically for the various reasons. Thankfully that hasn't happened yet.
Comment by Phill Scott on June 18, 2013 at 1:13am

Hi Greg - I am looking to develop and then operate small UAS's in the UK - would you be willing to chat about the insurance side of things?

I'm going to look at the slides over breakfast.

Comment by Greg on June 18, 2013 at 2:09am

Phill, Do you intend to sell UAS's? That's probably a minefield you would do well to take good notice of the warnings in the above document.

Re operating insurance, your starting point is probably:


But as with any insurance, shop around!

Comment by Phill Scott on June 18, 2013 at 3:16am
Hi Greg. Yeah I intend to develop and sell (but will do some operating so that My knowledge is rounded) to commercial customers rather than the general public - agriculture, emergency response and so on. So yup, manufacturers insurance is up there. I'm looking at things like redundant flight control systems and active sense and avoid, so those kinds of technologies will help in the overall product to set the tone. Hopefully we can do some risk reduction with an insurance company aswell as the CAA. I had seen your link in the past - will check back.

I think the linked to presentation is quite good really - Companies need to build connfidence in the insurance, financial and regulatory bodies that the kind of activities we'd be interested in can be carried out safely.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on June 18, 2013 at 3:28am

There are changes to CAP 722 coming, training being the biggest there is already another approved operator http://www.resource-uas.co.uk/

The USA is trying to introduce rules for all sizes at once, and failing badly. They just reset one of the standards teams and will hopefully kick into gear a little. The FAA is still saying not before 2020 for operators that might come from these forums. Unless you are in Alaska, that will start soon.

Guest Douglas McQueen from the law firm of LeClair Ryan touches on product liability law and Doug Davis is a candidate we are standing behind for the AUVSI  elections that hears the voice of small business in the USA on our podcast. Douglas will be speaking at our show in SFC along with Chris Anderson and all sorts of other interesting folk next month 



Comment by Grant Goldsmith on July 15, 2013 at 3:18pm


My company, Overwatch, just secured approval to write drone insurance primarily in the USA and Canada but also worldwide.  The coverage is underwritten by Lloyd's of London.  The insurance is for hull, liability, storage, transit, spare parts, etc.  We will also write manufacturers liability for those in the business of manufacturing drones or component parts and payload.  We will be at the AUVSI show in Washington in August in booth 2555.  We are also lecturing and exhibiting at the Canadian Unmanned Systems show in Vancouver in November.  Our coverage is written specifically for Unmanned Systems.  We have seen some try to use a basic normal private aviation policy and heavily modify it to cover a UAV.  Our coverage is strictly for a UAV/UAS being used for commercial, educational, research, law enforcement, search and rescue, etc.  We are aware of the FAA limitations on commercial, for profit, drone use however we assume that policy holders will follow the rules and regulations as enforced.  We are not an enforcement agency but rather a risk management and insurance solution provider for the UAV/UAS community.  You can find us on the web at www.avalonrisk.com/overwatch.html or call us in Houston, TX at 713-343-0889.  Good luck in your endeavors!


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