16 Oct 2017
Which industries are ripe for drones?

Which industries are ripe for drones?

CASA updated their requirements around registering drones in January 2021. Read the latest information: What are the new rules for commercial drones in Australia.

Drones are becoming increasingly powerful business tools.

Commercially to date, they’ve mostly been engaged to conduct aerial photography, inspection or survey and are being put to use in Australian SMEs across multiple industries, according to QBE Aviation National Manager, Julian Fraser.

“We’ve seen a lot of momentum in the areas of real estate and media, but expect this has peaked at this time,” he said.

“We’re already seeing uptake amongst resources, risk management, adjusting, engineering sectors, as well as tertiary institutions and researchers. But we think agriculture and construction infrastructure will be the big movers in the near term.”

So what are the business opportunities?

Real Estate

Aerial photography and video is adding an edge to property sales and marketing in the real estate industry. Agents and vendors are using drones to offer potential buyers new angles of properties and the surrounding areas to tell better stories about neighbourhoods like a properties proximity to local shops, public transport and schools.


Drones have piqued interested in news outlets for many years. The technology offers journalists the ability to capture video footage and photography across the globe in hard to reach spots, taking viewers on unique story-telling journeys.


Fraser said Australian farmers are increasingly investing in drones because they present enormous business opportunity.

“Crop monitoring, aerial spraying, irrigation and soil and field analysis are just some of the benefits that drone technology is delivering to farmers,” he said. 

“They’re only dipping their toe in entry-level units as low as two thousand dollars right now. But once they realise the potential, we’ll start to see much greater capital and technology investment in equipment,” he added.

Drone leasing arrangements are currently trending in agriculture, according to Fraser.

“For farmers, the business case has to make sense. They don’t want to invest thirty thousand dollars into a drone only to find it redundant in six months, so they’re focusing on leasing arrangements. Another alternative is to have contractors operating the drone on the farm on an hourly basis.”

Construction infrastructure

“Drones are becoming a crucial tool of the trade,” said Fraser. “In this sector, we’re seeing the emergence of drone operators amongst surveyors and civil engineers contracting in the resource and energy sector.”

Fraser said they’ll use the drone units to do asset inspection work on properties, roofs, chimneys, power lines, pipelines, railways, bridges and project management work where they will take a birds-eye photo of a job site and send it back to head office on a daily basis.

“At QBE, our team comprises aviators as well as insurance professionals,” Fraser added.

“We’ve been developing our capabilities in the remote piloted aircraft (RPA) space for more than a decade in anticipation of their emergence across many business sectors.

“We’ve also invested heavily in developing our world class internal capability and our external networks in the knowledge that Australia was likely to be first, globally, to regulate this space,” he added.

How to buy RPAS insurance

Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), otherwise known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems or drone operations, vary significantly. Our cover extends to accidental damage, including whilst in use, plus personal injury and property claims as a result of an RPA accident. 

It’s available directly and through brokers and QBE authorised representatives.

Need a broker? See our guide to finding the right broker.


This advice is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and may not be right for you. You must decide whether or not it is appropriate, in light of your own circumstances, to act on this advice. To decide if QBE’s products are right for you, please ensure you obtain and consider the Policy Wording or Product Disclosure Statements and Target Market Determinations, available online at QBE.com/au. Insurance issued and underwritten by QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (ABN 78 003 191 035, AFSL 239545).

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