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Drones for P&C Claims

Ouellette & Associates has been on the leading edge of the utilization of drones for both property and casualty claim assignments.

With our fleet of drones, we are capable of securing images that show the path of a storm and the areas affected; as well as attain close ups to determine if there is roof damage before we rent a boom lift and incur unnecessary expenses to our clients. (See sample images below.)

Many times during truck loss investigations, we are able to fly one of our drones over the impact areas of an on-scene accident before units are pulled apart to reflect impact points. This also allows for a better view to see better how the highway or intersection is designed.

We can also use our drones for risk inspections to confirm number of buildings on a commercial property, as well as cross reference the underwriters inspection to confirm appropriate insurance is in place.

We have used the drones for large crop claims, saving our clients expenses for walking the fields on several hundred acre claims.

We, at Ouellette & Associates, have been the “visionaries” of the use of drones. Allow us the opportunity to be of service to you.

2016 Spring Storm Damage Potentials

With El Nino still in full effect this spring, The Weather Channel states they believe the Ohio Valley will be experiencing drier than normal conditions, but they also remind us that inclement weather can happen at any time. We, at Ouellette & Associates, know that when these storms happen, it can cause a number of weather related issues for our clients. Therefore, we have put together some helpful information we would like to share with you.

We feel that the following weather conditions are the most important ones to focus on during this season and have shared a few tips below to help you better prepare.


Hail is prevalent in the Midwest, specifically in Indiana, this time of year. Hail conditions can happen throughout the summer, and it’s even possible to have winter hail storms.

Hail has various patterns where the weather conditions are aligned to form hail stones the size of golf balls and larger. These large hail stones are the type that typically cause the most damage, while smaller hail stones usually result in minimal damage.

When the hail storms do fall, they have a starting and stopping point whereas there can be a “bath” that is 1-20 miles in length but maybe only 100 yards in width. There is also the possibility of on
e side of a street affected but not the other.

When these hail storms take place, many roofing companies send out crews and begin a mass marketing campaign advertising “free inspections” in and around the area that has been affected. Although, many times, when an experienced adjuster inspects the roof that “is damaged from hail,” they find that the diameter of the hail was not large enough to cause damage, and the on-roof inspection and test squares completed by the adjuster did not find hail damage.

There are times when hail damage is significant, though, and we at Ouellette & Associates, work with the contractor of the insured’s choice to reach an agreed estimate based on local material and labor costs.

Once claims are paid, “neighboritice” sets in, and most everyone in the neighborhood begins to turn claims in to their insurance companies. As previously stated, there is a starting and stopping point of damage caused by hail. Therefore, a home or commercial building on one side of the street may have significant property damage, and the property on the other side may have little to no damage at all.

This is why it is important to have these roofs inspected by trained adjusters rather than just taking the contractor’s estimate and a few images. Indemnity payments will far outweigh loss adjustment expense.


As you can see from the illustrations above, this is the time of year for spring storms that cause various types of covered perils. At Ouellette & Associates, we have a staff of qualified Property Adjusters to inspect, confirm cause, and perform a coverage analysis to make recommendations.

Tornados, like hail, have specific paths. However, the areas surrounding the tornado can also have severe damage from straight-line winds, and the perimeter of damage can be a radius of miles with damage varying from very minor to severe.

Water damage from these storms must be inspected for cause of entry, and then it must be determined if the entry cause is from a covered peril.

With having inspected storm claims for an average of 30 years, our staff can inspect this claim and make the appropriate recommendations.


With the use of our drones for inspections, we are able to assist in getting an overview of the affected areas, as well as initial inspection of those roof systems that would otherwise require a Boom Lift. Therefore, we are able to use our drone to inspect the damage of a roof at a fraction of the cost during the inspection process. At which time we engage the contractor of choice of the insured to incur the expense of a Boom Lift to complete a joint inspection to reach an agreed upon scope and estimate.Drones for Roof Inspections - Indiana Claims Service

We, at Ouellette & Associates, wish you and your families a happy and safe Spring and Summer season! Remember, if you do need an Independent Adjustment firm in Indiana or surrounding counties, please visit our website and assign a claim.

FAA Certification for Maverick

Matthew Ham - UAS Certificate - Drone CertifiedWe have now properly certified our second drone, “Maverick,” operated by Matthew Ham at our Indianapolis office. “Goose” will be next, and then our fleet of drones will all be certified. We continue to save our clients thousands of dollars on inspections of large roof systems, and we have been able to provide on-scene images of high exposure Trucking lines accidents – documenting in real time the actual impact points and the totality overview of these accidents.

FAA Certification for Iceman

Brett Riggs FAA Small UAS Certificate of RegistrationOuellette & Associates has been on the leading edge of the utilization of drones for use in the handling of Property & Casualty Claim assignments. We have drawn the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration and under the regulations placed on drones for commercial use.

We have properly certified our first drone, “Iceman,” operated by Brett Riggs, and are in the process of certifying “Maverick” and “Goose.”

We have saved our clients thousands of dollars on inspections of large roof systems, and we have been able to provide on-scene images of high exposure Trucking lines accidents – documenting in real time the actual impact points and the totality overview of these accidents.

The Positive Side to Drones – Claims Handling

The Use of Drones Can Positively Effect Many Aspects of Claim Handling

Ouellette and Associates - Indiana Claims Service DRONE UseMatt was interviewed for an article featured on – 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:

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.

  • CAT Losses

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.

  • Crop Claims

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.

  • Underwriting

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.


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 investigationsOuellette & 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.