The use of drones in commercial business is increasing
Whilst there are numerous risks and safety concerns associated with the use of drones, they do allow for a more efficient way for businesses to survey
We take a look at how drones could be used during a claims process, and the benefits they could bring to the insurance industry.
The use of drones in commercial businesses is increasing, as the number of commercial operators with a license to fly drones in the UK has risen from five in 2010 to over 4,500 in 2018.
Whilst there are numerous risks and safety concerns associated with the use of drones, not least the high profile case of drones grounding flights at Gatwick, in 2018 the speed, cost and sustainability of doing so can allow for a more efficient way for businesses to survey both vast areas and hard to reach places.
We take a look at how drones could be used during a claims process, and the benefits they could bring to the insurance industry.
Surveying a damaged area
A key use of drones is their ability to survey a large area in a short time. In cases of severe damage, for example a large scale fire at a warehouse or building, or damage from extreme weather events and natural disasters, drones are able to scan the area quickly in order to determine the damage caused. Recently, drones have been able to capture images of the damage caused by wildfires in California and across parts of Australia.
In addition, another common use of drones would be to inspect damaged roofs or tall buildings, areas which would be difficult, and costly, for individuals to reach. In doing this, images of damaged areas can be accessed quicker by an insurer, meaning progress of a claim can be much quicker.
While the ability to identify large-scale damage is one benefit of using drones, it is also in cases where damage is known to exist but in places humans can’t access easily, for example equipment breakdown such as boilers that drones also have benefits. With some equipment often being located in tight places, drones can be called upon to access and survey any potential damage that may occur, or may have occurred.
Helping with inspections
Similarly to surveying a damaged area, drones can also be used in the safety inspection of a number of ways. Inspecting roofs, buildings or large areas such as crops and hard to reach equipment are just a small number of ways that drones can provide benefits to insurers before any loss has occurred.
An advantage to being able to take so many high-quality pictures of an area at once for insurers is clear – not only will it reduce the time it takes for images to be taken, but it also presents significantly less risk than if an employed surveyor attempted to take them.
An added benefit of being able to take so many images of an area during inspection, is being able to revisit those pictures when a claim is made, especially in cases of suspected fraud. For example, being able to look back at a picture of a roof that has been claimed to have been damaged in strong winds, can help detect and deter fraudulent claims if there was already damage to a particular area.
As well as reducing cost and risk for an insurer, and in an age of speed and autonomy, being able to access images of damaged areas quickly through use of a drone can lead to claims being processed faster – leading to increased customer satisfaction.
The use of drones in insurance is increasing and there has been a shift in how companies are using technology to improve their processes. As mentioned in Insurance Journal, ‘the last two years suggests that drones and aerial-imagery will soon become commonplace after catastrophes, as well as in other areas for the insurance industry’.
Whilst the benefits of using drones in the insurance industry are clear to see, there are a number of issues that will need to be resolved before their use becomes mainstream. Regulations around their use, including how big they can be, the speed they can fly and the altitudes they can go, continue to be stumbling blocks, as well as the certification and training required to be able to use one proficiently. Cost is another issue, as high quality equipment is likely to cost siginificant money, and that is before the additional outlays on staff training, qualifications and transportation.
The benefits and risks of using drones for businesses are clear, and as mentioned previously there are a number of considerations business need to make in order for them to become commonplace.
Within the claims process, drones can provide insurers with a tool to settle claims quickly and to reduce risk for claims inspectors, meaning it is surely only a matter of time until their use becomes customary.
Article by: Paul Redington Regional Major Loss Manager at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd
Iprosurv has again established itself as one of the UK leading supplier of drone services, with the successful award of a place in the £8m contract in conjunction with YPO and the Home Office national framework agreement.
Iprosurv tendered for one part of a four-lot contract to deliver drone services through their nationwide platform of CAA approved drone operators and associated services to the public sector organisations, in particular the blue light organisations and the emergency services, the contract runs for 2 years until 2022 with a further option to extend for a further 2 years until 2024.
Iprosurv will be on the YPO government
framework agreement delivering a fully managed inspection service, along with
bespoke services including immediate response for blue light services wishing
to deploy drone technology where they have no or limited in house capability.
The award of the contract is testament to the continued success of Iprosurv and platform of dedicated professional pilots, in conjunction with flight safety and client service at its core.
Rebecca Jones CEO of Iprosurv commented, “We are extremely proud to have been awarded a national framework agreement with YPO, in conjunction with the Home Office, to provide associated services. Throughout 2019 we have supported over 50 organisations where they have no or limited in house capability. Increasingly we have seen deployment for major incidents on the rise through our existing partnerships in instances such as fire and floods and its not an uncommon for Iprosurv to assist the emergency services with vital aerial data insights whilst the pilot teams have been on site. Its evident drones are becoming a vital tool to collect fast and accurate data whilst improving public safety. To further support both the blue light and emergency services along with the wider public sector is a testament of our award-winning service and demonstrates our niche and bespoke solution of deployment capability is encouraging wider use of safe drone deployment”.
Explaining the reasons behind the drone
framework, a YPO spokesman said: “We were approached by the Home Office to
discuss a gap in public procurement. Explaining the
reasons behind the drone framework, a YPO spokesman said: “We were approached
by the Home Office to discuss a gap in public procurement.
“Naturally we are very excited to be working with the Home
Office and on a framework that incorporates drone technology, but we are also
really pleased to be working closely with the police and fire and rescue
They concluded: “After much discussion and healthy deliberation,
a lot structure was agreed, believed to be fit for purpose for all
public-sector organisations, not just police and fire.
“The group involved in creating the framework has a wide
knowledge base. This, coupled with different personal requirements, is what
will make the framework a benefit to emergency services and the wider public
This follows a recent further award and a place of two lots out
of a three part lot of a £1.1m framework agreement – drone services, data
modelling to local authorities and housing associations.
For most people, their home is their biggest
asset, but let’s say you are business owner – would it be fair to
say that the business is your biggest asset. When we say asset we mean of
course it’s people, it’s buildings, it’s machinery and it’s stock. Progressive
use of drone technology means it is now much easier to ensure all aspects of risk
to any asset of any business are improved. To put it more simply drones can
protect people and businesses.
We look at an example below where drone imagery played part of a larger customer proposition providing greater insights for the broker, customer and insurer tailoring a policy around the customers requirements and assisting with an inherent building defect which, once identified and rectified led to an improved underwriting risk.
Aston Lark Case Study: Risk Management – Aerial Drone Survey
A book printing client in Suffolk has grown dramatically over the past 150 years, having grown from a single building to an array of buildings covering a 600,000 sq ft area. The buildings have been constructed without access to roof spaces and therefore inspecting the condition of their roofs and guttering was extremely difficult and dangerous.
Aston Lark carried out an aerial survey using the latest drone technology. We were able to offer our Client a close-range inspection of their roof and other areas of their buildings not easily visible or accessible from the ground.
Watch the video to see how we work closely with our clients to manage risk.
Following the aerial survey, we provided the client with high-definition quality footage and stills which are presented in a 3D interactive tool. This enables the Client to view the entirety of their building and zoom in on areas of concern to within a foot. This ultimately enabled our Client to identify areas of concern and take remedial action before it caused further problems and cost.
To find out more about Aston Lark’s Risk Management offering and how it can benefit you, click here.
Iprosurv are the UK’s leading drone pilot supply chain facilitating deployment to insurers and related sectors.
Find out more how Iprosurv can assist your business with ongoing property management, risk consulting or claims adjusting. www.iprosurv.com
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
” 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
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
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.
As the weather starts to turn and the rain starts to pour
older properties and historic buildings certainly start to bear the brunt of
the bad weather, pre-existing conditions can become a little more serious as
the weather takes its toll.
Historically these types of structures pose several access
issues and whilst traditional methods have been timely and expensive whilst
considering the business interruption of the business in question and potentially
It’s no wonder many businesses are turning to new ways of
managing their property portfolio and opting to deploy drone technology as they
offer a faster and more efficient way of inspecting inaccessible structures.
With data collection on site within a matter of hours and costs savings of up
to 55% vs traditional methods the ROI is quite compelling.
Iprosurv have been assisting many of our clients with
property risk management, enabling annual maintenance of historic, old and high
net worth clients to be completed with lessened challenges, reduced costs
whilst assisting with targeted scheduled maintenance. By deploying drone
technology with advanced software solutions, we deliver digital inspections models
of the asset, with our bespoke 3D interactive estate managers can integrate and
investigate the structure and assess the state of repair of their asset.
If your looking to reduce annual property maintenance spend
or wish to explore our digital inspection services please get in touch with
On Monday of this week Iprosurv held its first pilot event and it was a pleasure to meet so many of our experienced professional pilots, it never fails to astound me at the level of knowledge and skill that we have in the Iprosurv platform.
So a great big thank you to all our pilots for their support at the event, Iprosurv would not be at the level we are in the market without all of you.
I would also like to thank all of our guest speakers, the feedback we have had from the pilot platform has been amazing and all of you helped the day be a success so my heart felt thanks go out to: Graham Brown (ARPAS); Andrew Robinson (Coptrz; Prof Vares (Sheffield University); Dr Opdam (Clogworks); James Pick (Coptrz).
During the day we discussed the Drone market moving forward, legislation, emerging markets and area of focus, surveying methods and finishing with the Iprosurv 2020 vision, the direction we want to take the company and the new markets we will be entering in 2020.
it was great to see so many of our pilots taking the opportunity to network with other pilots and take the opportunity to grow their own business.
In closing thank you to everyone that attended and supported Iprosurv, and making the day a great success, thank you to you all.