Joined: 04/03/2018 11:51 AM EDT
Location: American Fork, UT
Hi Home Inspection Forum Members!
Here's Part 2 of our two-part series on drone inspections. For those of you who haven't read Part 1, you can read it here.
Top 5 ways to protect your business from drone-related claims
Last year, in an article for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) estimated that eight percent of its 21,000 members in the United States were using drones for inspections. Now, in 2019, industry influencers suggest that that number is growing.
In our last article, we talked to nine home inspectors across the nation, all of whom argue that drones provide a much-needed alternative to dismissing inaccessible roofs outright. Nevertheless, inspectors and claims professionals agree that drones aren't perfect.
"If we can't get on a roof and we decide to [use] the drone, we still will set up our ladders; because then we can still check the flashing and nail spacing at the edge," said Mike McFadden of Hero Inspection Services in Florida, showcasing one of many limitations to drone inspections discussed in the previous article.
To combat drones' limitations, home inspectors and claims professionals recommend taking specific precautions to mitigate your risk of drone-related claims. These safety measures include having the proper licensing and training, choosing the right equipment, having a thorough pre-flight process, setting client expectations, and carrying E&O and general liability insurance with a drone endorsement. We explore each in more detail below.
Licensing and Training
Since 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has required commercial drone users to obtain a remote pilot certificate (RPC), re-certify biannually, register their drone, and follow other rules. (See a summary of the comprehensive provisions instituted by Part 107 here.)
To obtain an RPC, inspectors must pass a 60-question test on drone regulations and operations. Most inspectors take a class in-person or online to prepare for the exam. Jon Bolton of The Inspectagator in Florida recommends RemotePilot101.com, which covers not just the technical aspects of drone operation but airspace law.
The FAA regulates airspace, restricting flights temporarily or permanently in certain areas. For example, drone-use is strictly prohibited near federally sensitive areas, such as the White House and Camp David. Additionally, drone pilots are unable to fly within five miles of most airports without giving airport operators notice. (For a general guide to airspace, see the Know Before You Fly campaign map here.)
According to Paul Duffau of Safe@Home Inspections in Washington, airspace law is one of the most important liability factors affecting drone pilots. Furthermore, Duffau suggests that many home inspectors who are willfully or unintentionally aware of airspace regulations are putting their businesses at risk.
"In one of my primary markets, it is illegal to lift a drone off the ground without FAA authorization or a waiver," Duffau wrote to us via email. "[Many] inspectors flying drones are doing so illegally--at least part of the time."
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 02/18/2019 02:06 PM EST