The Use of Drones Can Positively Effect Many Aspects of Claim Handling
Matt was interviewed for an article featured on RiskandInsurance.com – and although the article is about the pitfalls and dangers of drone use, Matt feels there are more benefits in the claims services industry. To read the published article, “Rogue Drones – Drones are creating public safety hazards, and there’s little that can be done,” click here: http://www.riskandinsurance.com/rogue-drones/
A positive side to drone use is definitely in the claims industry. Drones are being used more frequently for a variety of purposes including the following:
Drones have multiple uses when handling property claims.
- Large Residential and Commercial roof systems (potentially effected by wind, hail, lightning or fire causing interior leaking) that are not accessible by a ladder, would require a bucket lift at a cost of $1,500.00 and two adjusters on site per OSHA standards. Adjusters alone would bill at an hourly rate of $75.00 – $125.00 per hour or $250.00 minimum for 4 hours. In effect, a much higher cost simply to access the roof to determine if a covered peril or a maintenance issue of $2,500.00.
The most widely used Drone at this time is a four propeller hover type with an HD camera that is capable of taking an overview of the property. One adjuster is capable of flying up and down pitched roofs, valleys, Steeples, Parapet walls and chimneys capturing close, detailed images of the condition and any covered peril damage or maintenance problems causing the interior leak. At a cost of $200- $300 for the use of the Drone plus 2 hours for one adjuster at a max hourly rate of $125.00 – the worse- case cost would be $550.00 – and provide a savings to the Insurance carrier of $1,950.00 compared to the above scenario.
And the Insured can be with the adjuster seeing live images and video of their roof system, so if it is a maintenance problem the Insured can see firsthand.
If a covered peril is found, the insured chooses a contractor for the adjuster to reach an agreed scope and price, thus putting the cost of the lift on the contractor.
The second kind of drone is a fixed-wing drone, which is capable of flying over a pre-patterned area. Once several passes are made over the large effected area, be it city blocks or miles of devastation, images are being taken with each pass creating a map that can be overlaid to reflect any carrier’s concentration of insureds that may be potentially affected.
This allows the carrier to respond much quicker on how that particular CAT will be handled; the number of adjusters required to handle the claims; determine if the carrier staff adjusters are capable of handling the area; or will this have to be out sourced to a CAT firm. What once would take days to determine, causing the insureds to have to wait for an adjuster to begin the handling of their claim, now can be determined in a day or less giving the Policy Holder action more promptly.
The cost of this is more expensive as the fixed wing Drones are much more costly, and the programs to provide this to the carriers has yet to be determined. However, the cost of promptly being able to begin the claim handling process for a Policy Holder outweighed by the satisfied Policy Holder who will renew their Policy, as they know they are being taken care of most efficiently.
Carriers that insure fertilizing companies are subject to over-spray into fields of corn, beans etc. Once it is confirmed that the weather conditions were capable of drifting fertilizer onto fields that were affected by the fertilizer, then it is time to determine the amount of crop directly affected.
What once took walking the fields row by row to get a measurement, now can be completed effectively by a Drone who’s pilot/Adjuster stays outside of the field with the Farmer who has the claim. The drone can makes slow passes taking close up images of the plants to show how the fertilizer will affect the harvest, and measure the area at the same time to determine how many bushels will be lost as a result. Once again, what could take hours to accomplish can now be cut in half, while completing the same adjustment process.
Utilizing a Drone for underwriting will become much more accurate. Many times in underwriting properties, especially large Commercial Buildings and Farms with multiple buildings and grain bins, the roof systems are not inspected for how well they are maintained or if there is preexisting damage caused by wind, hail, lighting or fire. With a Drone, it is very simple for the Underwriter or IA to properly inspect and take images of the property to properly rate it.
Many carriers write commercial properties on a 3-year policy term. During this time period, not many carriers return on a yearly basis to see if the property is being maintained; if additional buildings are built; if new roof systems are installed; or to see how the roofs and grain bins are being maintained.
Also a good aerial view of the property allows the underwriters to have an overview of all covered buildings and structures on file and schedule these appropriately. Then, if a claim is turned in, the adjuster can confirm that the claimed damage is on a building on the schedule.
CASUALTY/GENERAL LIABILITY CLAIMS
Drones can be of great use for securing valuable information in a way images from the ground cannot
Many IA firms handle 24/7/365 on-scene truck investigations. Ouellette & Associates is on call for several National long-haul trucking companies. When a serious accident happens, we assign the appropriate adjuster to get on scene immediately. Many times, on arrival, the traffic is backed up, and the Police handling the accident stop all traffic. Over the years, we have always been able to access the scene after identifying ourselves, and secure good ground images of the vehicles involved. With the permission of the Police, we can hover over the vehicles, taking images before the units are pulled apart, to accompany the ground level images for a better view of impact points of each vehicle. We can also fly in each direction of the vehicles involved to show leading up to from each drivers point of view. This video and these images can be sent to the safety department on site or defense firm, if assigned.
- Accident scene from a different angle
With the Drone we can go to a scene, be it an intersection or any type of roadway, and take images leading up to impact from each drivers’ perspective, as well as take video to show what the drivers could see. We can also hover over the intersection to take an aerial image of the accident site.
As you can see, as long as precaution and safety measures are in place, drone use can be a huge benefit to many.