Argentina: Civil Liability Insurance For Drones

The SSN approved the general conditions for the civil liability insurance of remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs), to cover the damage that their operation could cause to third parties. This cover is mandatory for owners or operators of RPAs, since the entry into force of ANAC resolution 527 at the end of 2015.

The National Superintendence of Insurance ("SSN" after its acronym in Spanish) issued resolution 40,250, published on December 26, 2016, which approved the general conditions and additional clauses of the mandatory insurance established by resolution 527 of the Argentine Civil Aviation Administration ("ANAC" after its acronym in Spanish), effective as of November 15, 2015.

ANAC resolution 527/2015 approved the Provisional Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS", or commonly called "drones"), which temporarily sets the general requirements for their operation in Argentine national territory, territorial waters, airspace covering the territory as well as off-shore airspace, when it is within Argentine jurisdiction under international conventions.

This regulation is applicable to: (i) air operations carried out with UAS; (ii) the individuals or legal entities wishing to obtain authorization to operate remotely piloted aircrafts ("RPAs") or systems of RPAs, or who intend to be members of the remote crew; and (iii) to any person carrying out the maintenance or repair of UAS or RPAs.

For the purposes of this regulation, the UAS are classified into: (i) autonomous; (ii) RPAs; and (iii) systems of RPAs. It is worth highlighting that the regulation of the ANAC prohibits the operations of any type and with any purpose of exclusively autonomous aircrafts, i.e., of those UAS that do not allow any pilot intervention in the management of the flight.

In terms of their characteristics, the ANAC regulation defines three categories: (i) small, up to 10 kg of empty weight; (ii) medium, of between 10 kg and 150 kg of empty weight; and (iii) large, more than 150kg of empty weight.

The authorizations of the ANAC required to operate RPAs or systems of RPAs -except in the case of small sized RPAs with sports or recreational purposes, that do not require such authorization- must be sought through the Aeronautical Digital Box of ANAC, in the conditions set by the regulation.

One of the conditions established by the regulation of the ANAC to obtain such authorization is to evidence having hired a civil liability insurance to cover any damage that could be caused to third parties.

The obligation to hire this insurance rests with the owners or operators of the RPAs or systems of RPAs. In accordance with the provisions of the ANAC regulation, the responsibility for any damage that could be caused is with those who carry out or facilitate their operation.

The SSN 40,250 resolution came to provide the general conditions of uniform application of the civil liability insurance for RPAs, for all insurers authorized to operate in the field of civil liability, and incorporated them into the General Regulation of the Insurance Activity.

With regard to the risk covered, it sets forth that the insurer has the obligation to hold harmless the insured and/or pilot at the controls (the individual who manipulates the flight controls and is responsible for flight path, piloting and maneuver) that operate the RPA with the insured's authorization, of the compensation due to a third party by damage caused by the RPA or by the cargo transported by it in regulatory conditions. The insurer assumes such obligation only in favor of the insured and of the operator of the RPA during the term of the insurance policy.

The insurance sum for the coverage of risks may not be less than that established for aircrafts in article 160 of the Argentine Aviation Code. This article establishes at 2000 Argentine gold, both the limit of liability of the exploiter for each accident with aircrafts of not more than 1000kg, and the limit of compensation for each person who died or was injured. The applicable quotation will be that of the moment in which the event causing liability occurs. Taking the quotation of the first quarter of 2017, the mentioned value would be $8,574,260. The resolution of the SSN provides that the compensation in charge of the insurer does not decrease the sums insured during the validity of the policy and, in the event of more than one damaged party, this is distributed pro rata.

The general conditions approved by the SSN include specific clauses on limit of liability, deductibles and exclusions, as well as special provisions referred to the obligations of the insured and to the defense in civil and criminal judicial proceedings. They also provide that, with prior irrefutable notification, the insurer can inspect the remotely piloted aircraft, its documents and enabling titles of the people involved in its operation.

For purposes of coverage, spouses or members of a civil partnership, relatives of the insured up to the third degree of consanguinity or affinity, directors of insured companies, or employees, if the event happens while they were at work, are not considered third parties.

The risks will not be insured if the RPA operation was performed by someone who was not authorized by ANAC, in cases in which such authorization is required; if the same pilot at the controls operates more than one RPA simultaneously; if persons or unauthorized cargo is transported; if third parties unrelated to the insured used the RPA; if it were an aerobatics or sports competitions, among others.

Obligations of the insured include compliance with the regulations in force as such of ANAC and taking reasonable security measures to prevent the accident.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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