The insurance industry holds many types of reputations, but one thing that many people would agree on is its ability to make the world a more resilient place. This is especially true after a major catastrophic event when it provides affected communities the necessary assistance to get back on their feet.
One of the challenges after a major catastrophic event is assessing the insurable damage. Poor weather conditions, unusable roads, lack of basic utilities, and downed communication lines can deny timely access to affected properties. Additionally, state and local disaster recovery plans can potentially limit access to disaster zones for various reasons. This makes it difficult for claims adjusters to get insureds the help they need or assess the damage of insured properties so they can immediately start the rebuilding process.
One technology that has recently been gaining traction in our industry to speed up the claims process is Unmanned Aerial Vehicles -- also known as drones. After a major catastrophe event, drones can be remotely sent into affected zones to assess the extent of the damage. They can be used to assess damage caused to an entire area to get a quick loss estimate or, they could be sent to insureds' properties to take detailed and high resolution images of damaged properties for claims adjusters to inspect.
In addition to fast response, drones are also cost effective. Insurance companies don't need to deploy as many resources to inspect, or spend extra to get adjusters to difficult to reach places after a catastrophic event. These cost reduction benefits assist reinsurers, insurers, and ultimately the insured on different, but significant levels. We've already seen drones used in several catastrophic events that occurred this year. One of the more recent examples was Hurricane Matthew. Some insurance companies -- Allstate and Travelers to name just a couple -- used drones to assess claims reported by insureds in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. According to Allstate, they used drones in Savannah, GA as well as certain parts of South Carolina, to take detailed pictures of damaged properties with 4k-resolution cameras. Another major catastrophe in 2016 where drones were used to assess damage as well as to investigate the cause of the fire was the Fort McMurray wild fires in Alberta, Canada. In the Fort McMurray fire, the Alberta government used drones equipped with infrared and ultraviolet cameras in addition to the high resolution cameras to try and help locate the source of the fire based on various factors.
In addition to helping insureds get back on their feet much quicker and making the world a more resilient place, drones contribute to the safety of claims adjusters by reducing or eliminating potential risks adjusters face when going into affected areas or when inspecting hard to reach places, such as roofs. While drones are a useful addition to support offered by local and state disaster recovery plans, at this point they are not viable replacements for the services and knowledge of an experienced adjuster. But the fact this technology enables money to start flowing between the parties involved just by looking at the external damage captured by a drone will go a long way.
It will be interesting to see how many more insurance companies deploy this technology in 2017 as FAA regulation for commercial use of drones is also evolving to allow the use of drones in these situations.
What do you think? Will drones continue to create a buzz in the industry?
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Disaster risk, Earthquakes, Floods/storms, Resilience
Location: Armonk, NY, United States