Business Clinic: How should I insure portable GPS kit and drones?

Whether it’s a legal, tax, insurance, management or land issue, Farmers Weekly’s experts can help. Here, Dominic Snook of insurance broker Farmers & Mercantile, explains how GPS systems should be insured and looks at some insurance issues and rules concerning drones and their use.

Q. I have recently invested in some new technology and would like to know if my portable GPS system is insured when taken outside the tractor. I have also bought a drone and want to know about the insurance implications of using it.

A. GPS systems are now commonplace on arable farms and can be insured in two ways.

If your GPS system is built into your tractor, it needs to be insured under your motor policy within the sum insured for your tractor.

For example, if your tractor cost £60,000 to purchase and the GPS cost £5,000, the tractor would need to be insured for £65,000.

Under a motor policy, the GPS system would be covered on a comprehensive basis, offering wide cover excluding wear and tear damage.

If the GPS system is portable and can be changed between tractors, the system needs to be insured under your farm policy, ideally on an all-risks basis.

See also: Business Clinic – how does averaging affect insurance claims?

The all-risks basis will offer you the widest cover available, including UK-wide accidental damage.

Over recent times, GPS systems have become very attractive to thieves – especially the portable systems, as these can be easily taken from an unlocked tractor cab or workshop.

An example of this was reported last month, with eight John Deere Starfire systems being stolen in the Norfolk area, each with a value of about £2,000.

In addition to insuring the actual GPS system, it is worth remembering to insure the GPS base stations. These items can be worth up to £20,000. The base stations need insuring under the all-risks section of your farm policy.

Drone use

Despite the increasing use of drones in agriculture, grey areas remain regarding the insurance implications of using unmanned aerial systems as a farm business tool.

First, it is vital to tell your insurance provider that you have a drone for commercial use.

All insurance policies differ, with some excluding liability for drone use or imposing certain flying height restrictions.

A drone would normally be covered under an all-risks section of a farm policy.

Most agricultural insurers do not cover the drone while in use. However, there are specialist markets that do cover drones in use.

Insurers are becoming more aware of the risks involved and may consider a number of factors when offering cover. These include how it is used, the weight of the drone, where it is being used, working height and if the drone is registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The most common claims seen so far involving drones are impact and theft claims.

Drones represent a civil aviation risk, meaning that in law you could be held liable for damages to a third party person or property.

There are several key points that every drone operator must consider.

  • You are legally responsible for each flight. Take time to understand the rules. Failure to comply could lead to a criminal prosecution. Visit for information from the CAA.
  • Keep your drone in sight at all times, and be aware of the height restrictions. Stay below 400ft.
  • Keep your distance. It is illegal to fly your drone over a congested area. Never fly within 50m of a person, vehicle or building.
  • You are responsible for avoiding collisions.You should never fly a drone near an airport or close to aircraft. It is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft in flight.
  • Consider rights of privacy. Think about what you do with any images you obtain as you may break privacy laws.

Do you have a question for the panel?

Outline your legal, tax, finance, insurance or farm management question in no more than 350 words and Farmers Weekly will put it to a member of the panel. Please give as much information as possible.

Send your enquiry to Business Clinic, Farmers Weekly, RBI, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS.

You can also email your question to

Futures markets and commodity risk management online course:

  • Risk management strategies for a more predictable financial performance
  • Educated conversations when collaborating with your advisors
  • Negotiate better prices with your grain merchants

View course