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With insurance, it’s more than a game of drones

Learn how drones are changing the insurance industry.

Insurance companies are increasingly using drones to assess property damage and improve claims processing. As an example, a typical roof inspection using a ladder takes about an hour. Inspections of multiple-story or steep roofs take even longer, and they often require specialists and extra equipment. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle—UAV or drone—can capture the necessary images in 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the house. Meanwhile, the operator stays safely on the ground, eliminating the possibility of falling or causing further damage by walking on the material (clay, tile, and metal roofs). 

Travelers Insurance is leading the way in using drones and initially launched their drone training program in the spring of 2015. Today they have claim reps certified to use drones in 30 states. “We see the drones as really another technology tool in the quiver of our claim professionals,” said Patrick Gee, senior vice president of auto, property and catastrophe claims at Travelers. “We’ve really changed the way we do work over the past few years.”

Allstate has used drones to assess large-scale storm damage claims. It took as few as four and a half days from when a customer reported damage for the company to issue a repair estimate. Typically that process would take 11 days, says Glenn Shapiro, Allstate’s executive vice president of claims.

After an extreme event it is common for insurance companies to receive numerous claims for damages that existed before the event occurred. To help save policy holders money by reducing fraud, insurance companies are using UAVs prior to an extreme event to capture images of insured properties that they can use for a comparison. This allows companies to protect themselves from such fraudulent claims.

However, drones can’t be used everywhere. Companies can’t fly drones near airports and military bases. And they’re not the right tool for every type of claim, as in situations where damages may be small and hard to detect but still covered, such as hail damage to a roof.

At First Tech our agents stay current with all of the technologies and tools insurance companies are using to hold down costs, while improving services. Because we’re an independent agency, we’re free to work with a wide variety of carriers to ensure our members get the most appropriate coverage from carriers that are using an array of advanced technologies.