It would not be a huge stretch to say drones have taken a fair bit of negative press in the last couple of years. Even a casual news reader would have read at least one incident involving a near-miss between an aircraft and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), with the most obvious example being the closure of Gatwick airport for nearly 2 days following reports and sightings of drones near the runway. This incident alone affected 140,000 passengers and circa 1,000 flights costing over £50m to the airport, airlines and various components of the supply chain.
But are drones bad? Are they just an expensive toy? Or can they deliver tangible benefit in specific scenarios and industries?
In this article, Jonathan Jones and Greg Paton discuss how and why the insurance industry has adopted the use of drones for claims adjustment, the benefits to the industry and the customer and scenarios in which Zurich are deploying drones following a loss.
The use of drones in general is nothing new, the emergency and armed services have been using drones for decades, and the use of underwater drones or Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) have been pioneered for even longer than that.
So, you may ask, what is all the fuss about drones in the insurance industry? The benefit of utilising drone technology, especially coupled with high definition camera’s, enables insurers to look at risks when assessing exposure prior to inception, on ongoing risk engineering evaluations, and of course post loss incidents in the claims environment. The benefit also stretches to the assessment for wide area damage such as flooding, storms and civil disturbance.
” The importance of choosing a reputable partner is highly important to Zurich”
The use of drones has significant benefits for insurers in resource efficiency, which ultimately reduces costs to the industry and the customer. Instead of a costly site visit, involving multiple parties and the expenses associated with this, a post-loss drone survey can take high definition videos and pictures giving parties a vivid picture of the loss in question. These images and videos can be used by loss adjusters and claims professionals to evaluate coverage and make interim payments in a much quicker fashion. At Zurich, we have made substantial interim payments to customers within a few days of a loss based on the extent of damage seen on the drone survey and in accordance with our Claims commitment.
” Zurich have recently teamed up with a company specialising in drone flight, Iprosurv“
It is not only the original drone footage that is of assistance, given it provides a unique perspective on the extent of damage, it also allows for accurate measurements to be taken, and 3D modelling to be performed at the same time.
In addition where a building or site is inaccessible, due to there being a dangerous structure or contamination, then the deployment of a “disposable” lower cost drone can be agreed, in the event that there is a danger that the drone might be lost, or indeed contaminated beyond economic restoration.
Zurich have recently teamed up with a company specialising in drone flight, Iprosurv, and we have agreed stringent service level agreements, to ensure we can be on site and filming footage in the early stages of the incident, and the drones can help with cause and origin investigations. Since partnering with iprosurv 12 months ago, the Major Loss Team have utilised their services 11 times on claims with a combined estimate of £143.5 million. The nature of these losses range from shopping centres, schools through to social housing fires.
With the average cost of a drone survey in the order of GBP1,500.00 there are clear financial benefits, with the customer engagement opportunities, to showcase, an intangible bonus. The importance of choosing a reputable partner is highly important to Zurich. Whilst drones are fairly new to insurers, they are subject to high regulation within the UK and, part of a consequence of the Gatwick incident, will continue to have the spotlight when it comes to further regulation. Commercial drone operators must obtain a license in order to operate and profit from flying a drone. The risk of injury or damage to a third party or third party property must also be considered, highlighting the importance of choosing a professional outfit when undertaking these surveys.
As of November 2019, all drone operators must undertake a compulsory online test to show they have knowledge and practical understanding of the current regulations and are fit to operate drones in an external environment.
The full article and other news from the Zurich Claims Quarterly Journal 2019 can be found here https://insider.zurich.co.uk/claims/zurich-claims-quarterly-journal-winter-2019/