Rebecca Jones is the CEO and Co-founder of Iprosurv: When we started Iprosurv, we knew we didn’t just have to build a business. In many ways we, along with all the other commercial drone providers, had to build a whole new sector from scratch and that is no easy task.
And when you are targeting the insurance sector, not necessarily known for its ability to embrace change, that task becomes much harder. But in the last seven or so years, we have made good progress in insurance and our pilots are regularly instructed on a range of insurance projects from building inspections to flood damage assessment and everything in between.
If I’m honest though, the progress has been slower than we imagined. We have spent an inordinate amount of time with individual businesses across the insurance spectrum, showing them what drones can do and how they can make a range of insurance processes much more efficient, safe and cost effective.
That hands-on approach works but it takes time, time that I’m not sure the insurance industry has if it is to digitise its processes in the way it says it wants to. But according to some recent research conducted by Research in Insurance in conjunction with Iprosurv, we could be about to reach a tipping point in the adoption of drones in insurance.
When asked if they would use drones if they reduced the claims life cycle (which we have proven they do), not one insurer said that they wouldn’t use them with only 6% of brokers ruling the idea out. That sounds like an open door for Iprosurv but if this is the case, why isn’t every insurer and broker using them?
When asked why they hadn’t yet adopted drones, 54% of respondents said it was because they didn’t have the influence to introduce them to the business and around a third said there was a lack of appetite higher up in the organisation.
This research shows that appetite for using drones was highest among employees at support levels which suggests that we have some work to do to convince the decision makers (who aren’t necessarily at the front line) of the benefits of drones. Their people appear to want to use them so why aren’t management responding?
Education and understanding is key
It seems clear that this challenge is on us, the drone providers. Nearly a third of insurers (32%) and 28% of brokers admitted that they just don’t understand the tech with 11% of insurers and 30% of brokers saying they don’t see a need.
It’s clear there is an education job here for all commercial drone providers. While those on the front line may see the potential benefit, they are not the ones whose necks are on the line when it comes to making the decision to use them.
So it’s on us as providers to ensure that the decision makers ‘get it’ and can see for themselves that drones offer a completely new way of managing not just claims but also conducting surveys for risk management.
We need to show them not just the tech, but the practical cost benefits that they can bring to almost any organisation. And we need to show them that drones are set to play a key role in the industry-wide drive towards digitisation.
When asked what kind of technology they would like to see used more in the industry, drones proved to be the fifth most popular behind automated claims processing, claims portals, greater us of videos and cameras and the introduction of claims apps, out of a total of 20 choices.
Everything appears to be in place. Frontline employees get it. Organisations see drones playing a key role in digitisation. And not one insurer said that they wouldn’t use drones if they reduced the claims life cycle.
Keeping the faith
These are really solid foundations to build upon and if we can educate and convince decision makers that drones are safe, the data they produce is handled compliantly and that they can streamline processes that have remained largely unchanged for decades, we may finally get to that tipping point.
Everything everyone in the commercial drone sector has done to date is having an impact. The research shows that. Now we just need to keep the faith.
The appetite is there but it is being dampened by lingering suspicions about drone technology. That is the bit we need to crack, I think. That is the bit that is preventing us from reaching tipping point. And it is that bit that we all now need to focus on.
From this point on, it has to be all about education, education, education. Once we deliver that, there’s no telling how integral drones may become in insurance.
Established in 2014, Iprosurv is a pioneer in the provision of drone technology in the insurance industry and beyond. Its current network of pilots, covering the entirety of the UK, use a proprietary system to record, store and deliver drone data to clients in a fast and secure manner. From building surveys to flood response to assisting emergency services, Iprosurv continues to push the boundaries of how drones can be used in business.
Such is the flexibility of commercial drones, they are being adopted in more sectors and in more ways than ever before. So much so that it can be hard to keep track of all the applications, so we asked our friends at Coptrz, experts in commercial drone technology, to give us their view on the most important and exciting applications of drone today.
The drone market is set to grow steadily in the consumer, commercial and public safety sectors over the next few years. In many business practices, drones can substitute traditional methods of operation. For example, the inspection industry is benefiting greatly from the use of drone technology.
Thanks to their ever-improving accuracy, greater efficiency, cost savings and enhanced safety features, drones are changing the way that companies around the world perform inspections. In fact, the drone inspection market continues to grow as technology enables more and more applications.
George Burne, Business Development Manager for the Inspection Industry at Coptrz, commented: “The UK inspection industry, like all industries is a constantly evolving market which has welcomed the use of new technology such as UAVs with open arms. What is great about the use of drone technology is it allows business owners to deliver high quality data while near eliminating risk to any of their crew members. Be this internal or external, choosing to put a robot at height or into a confined space is always the best decision.”
George Burne Business Development Manager Coptrz
Inspections, Surveying, Health and Safety, Reducing Risk
Drones are transforming industrial inspections in critical infrastructure. Using drones for inspection allows for efficient inspections at speed where you can acquire high-quality data from dangerous environments. The benefits to organisations of using drones for inspection included reduced risk to workers, cost savings and reduced downtime. Utilising a drone to undertake a visual inspection uses the drone’s camera quite simply to act as the inspector’s eyes.
Along with the inspection industry, the surveying sector has seen a vast improvement on the accuracy of data collected when using drones. The drone survey market continues to grow as technology enables applications such as 3D modelling, site progress and site inspections. The use of drones can significantly reduce the costs of both equipment and labour in medium to large surveys. In most cases, a single drone survey will only require one qualified pilot. Time on site for data capture can be increased up to 80%. The data captured can be used for multiple applications.
Drones can provide the same data output as traditional surveys, but in a fraction of the time. A job that would once take multiple days can now be done in a matter of hours, without compromising on data output. After a quick data process before leaving the site, a surveyor can perform the necessary processing with the knowledge that no data has been missed.
Drones are also revolutionising the police and public safety sectors. Unmanned aircrafts have become a force multiplier for law enforcement teams, providing unprecedented views of a scene or incident – helping to fight crime, plan an effective response and keep officers safe. Police are deploying drones and sophisticated payloads, including zoom and thermal cameras, for a range of thermal missions such as search and rescue, crowd control, evidence-gathering and accident reconstruction.
The use of drones in the agriculture industry is steadily growing along with other industries. Drones are being used in agriculture as part of an effective approach to sustainable agricultural management that allows farmers to help streamline their operations, using data analytics to gain effective insights into their crops. UAVs are particularly useful for the careful monitoring of large areas of farmland, considering factors such as slope and elevation. The technology has also proven useful in gaining an extensive overview of plan emergence and population, as more accurate data can help with replanting decisions, as well as thinning and pruning activity.
Jamie Cording, UAV Strategist at Coptrz commented: “Agriculture is arguably the most exciting area of the UK drone industry right now. With the release of the DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral not so long ago, we felt real strides being taken in terms of research, data and analysis in the field. There’s no stopping where this sector of the industry can go when we look at other parts of the world. The UK agriculture sector is still very young compared to other areas that are using drones, but there is so much that a drone can be used for within this market that makes it so fruitful. There is huge opportunity to revolutionise processes using drones in agriculture.”
Jamie Cording UAV Strategist coptrz
The drone industry is still in the infancy stage in terms of mass adoption and usage, but drones have already broken through rigid traditional barriers in industries which otherwise seemed impenetrable by similar technological innovations. The likes of Royal Mail are piloting the delivery of packages and letters using drones – the possibility for what the technology can do is endless.
It is said that the construction sector will be the largest commercial buyer of UAVs. Although drones are being actively used in the architecture and construction industry today, business application of drone technology in construction is increasing. The cameras and sensors that can be attached to drones mean that they can make a digital model of real objects from multiple angles that allow a computer to create an accurate 3D model. This building information modelling helps prevent construction mistakes and distribute resources effectively. Flying drones above construction sites can allow for high-definition surveys before projects start, tracking of progress and better management of processes.