Nationwide News: Drone liability coverage

The following information is provided by Nationwide, the No.1 farm and ranch insurer in the United States.

“As the use of drones has increased, we realized there was a gap in coverage,” said Brent Van Roekel, senior underwriting director, Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company. “Commercial insurance policies 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 commercial agribusiness customers, such as co-ops, 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,” he 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 as becoming essential for the ag economy, so we need to be able to provide a solution.”

Nationwide Agribusiness began writing coverage for commercial agribusiness customers using drones at the end of 2013. “It’s not a separate policy,” Van Roekel explained. “It’s an endorsement we add to the policy we’re already providing for those customers.”

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 agronomy operation. Our feeling is this is a coverage ag operations need to fully protect that part of their business,” Van Roekel said. “We essentially built it into the agronomy piece of the coverage and are not charging an additional premium.”

As 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,” Van Roekel said. “We’re trying to stay contemporary to our customers’ needs.”

Nationwide Agribusiness officially rolled out drone coverage for its commercial agribusiness customers in March 2014. Coverage in all states was made available by 2015. Learn more.

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