Farmer Survey Underscores Risks and Opportunities for Adopting Drones in Ag

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According to a recent survey released by Munich Reinsurance America Inc., the popularity of drones is flourishing on the farm, with three in four U.S. farmers (74%) currently using or considering adopting the technology to assess, monitor and manage their farm.

The online survey, which polled 269 U.S. farmers, was conducted by Qualtrics in April 2018.

According to the survey, 76% of all respondents have concerns related to drone usage: Privacy issues (23%) topped the list, followed by cyber security concerns over data captured and transferred (20%), and potential damage or injury from the drone (17%).

“As Federal Aviation Administration regulations open up the skies to the use of commercial drones, we are seeing a growing investment in the technology by farmers focused on precision agriculture or smart farming,” says Jason Dunn, strategic products expert at Munich Reinsurance America Inc. “Whether a farm has less than 100 or more than 5,000 acres, drones can be the eyes and ears for farmers that want to efficiently and cost-effectively monitor and manage crops, livestock and soil conditions. However, farmers may be exposing their business to new risks related to drone usage, and their insurance coverage may not have kept pace with the rapid development and use of this technology.”

Of those who currently use the technology, it is nearly split between farmers who contract with an outside company to operate their drones (49%) and farmers who handle drone usage on their own (51%). Further, 83% of respondents use drones on their farms either daily or once a week or more. Drones are used for or are considered being used for crop monitoring (73%), soil and field analysis (46%), and health assessment (e.g., of crops and livestock) (43%).

“Fortunately, a majority of farmers are talking to their insurance company about their drone usage,” adds Dunn.

In total, 65% of survey respondents using drones have informed their insurance company, and 16% plan to do so.

“Traditional commercial insurance policies don’t cover or offer very limited liability protection for drones,” continues Dunn. “Farmers should speak with their agents or brokers to ensure that their policy protects against privacy claims, as well as bodily injury and property damage incurred as a result of drone usage.”

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