Following a spate of insurtech failures, Rebecca Jones, CEO and co-founder of drone technology provider Iprosurv, argues that newcomers need to get real and stop promising the world.
Either by design or by accident, the insurtech community has been positioned as either the disruptors of, or in more recent years, the saviours of the insurance industry.
Which is handy because throughout 2020 it has become clear that however proud we are of our industry, there are huge issues that must be addressed, and quickly. So far, the industry has shown that it cannot find its own way out of the current situation – it needs the energy, the willingness to change and the know-how to make it happen that often only an outsider can bring.
But if the stars are aligned for incumbents and insurtechs to create a new future for the industry, why have we seen so many incomers stumble and fail in the last 12 to 18 months?
In a series of interviews with the founders of failed insurtechs, conducted by Oxbow Partners, every single one said the industry simply wasn’t ready for the change they were bringing and that their big idea hadn’t met current market needs.
Now that may be a catch-all to hide various other failures, but it is very revealing and starts to get to the root of why so many insurtechs fail. It’s fine to have a great idea and vision for the future of insurance but if it isn’t practical, isn’t actionable and doesn’t actually help those in today’s industry do things in a better way, then there is literally no point to it.
Whatever insurtechs aim to do, it has to be grounded in reality to have any chance of being adopted, never mind changing the industry. It seems that too many have been too keen to take on all the problems facing insurance in one go, racing to be the one that delivers the game changer.
But that is like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the game changer exists only in the minds of the deluded. Any new entrant into the market, whether they identify as an insurtech or not, will only make inroads if they are 100% focused on fixing the problems, or enhancing the opportunities, of today.
If they continue to focus on a too-distant future, they will continue to fail. And that doesn’t just damage their business – it damages anyone who seeks to apply new technology to traditional processes.
Because every time distrustful incumbents see another insurtech fail, it reassures them that they were right all along, that they should keep doing things the way they always have. And if that trend continues, we will all have failed.
It’s time for those of us who promise a better future for insurance to get real about those promises. We might see the potential that technology brings. We might get frustrated at those who don’t get it. And we might even think it’s all going to be a waste of time.
But those frustrations are our failures, not the industry’s. They can be addressed by being realistic about the application of the technology we have and rather than taking a technology-first approach, we have to look at what isn’t working or where opportunities aren’t being exploited and only then seek out the technology or approach that can address it.
If insurtechs continue to promise the world and deliver only failure, a real opportunity to change insurance for the better will be lost, perhaps forever. Far better to rein in those ambitions and frustrations and get real about what insurance really needs.
We must first focus on today and only when we’ve cracked that, can we move on to tackling tomorrow.
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
As 2020 begins, thoughts inevitably
drift towards what the year ahead holds. For many of us that means well-meaning
new year’s resolutions, but technology experts are once again seeking to
pinpoint emerging trends and over the next 12 months, we could see the most
transformative technology taking shape in the skies above us.
There are huge potential benefits to
be had from emerging drone technology and if we get it right, we could soon
have drones delivering medical supplies to people in our most congested cities
and harder to reach communities. Drones can also monitor and respond to traffic
accidents, track animals, monitor crops, watch for poachers and provide aid
when natural disasters strike. The potential benefits are huge.
All of this explains why the global
civil aerial drone market is expected to almost triple over the coming decade,
to £11.4bn in 2028. But to make the most of the new technology in the UK, we
first need to deal with questions and concerns about irresponsible and illegal
Most drones are currently controlled
via hand-held radio transmitter with flights restricted to the radius of radio
signal reception, meaning that they have to fly within visual line of sight of
the pilot. But as Vodafone argues in our new report to be published next week,
there are huge gains to be had from drones that are able to fly safely ‘beyond
visual line of sight’; something that is possible via the safer and more secure
alternative of cellular-connected drones with an inbuilt SIM card connecting
them to a mobile network.
Only with a cellular connected drone
is it possible to track and control the device so that it can be flown safely
and securely from some distance away. Cellular connection can provide further
benefits as a complementary system for verifying location and the ability to
have dynamic no-fly zones which can provide significant security benefits.
Understandably, it is this type of
drone use that the public wants to see more of. While rogue operators have
previously attracted negative headlines from incidents such as at Gatwick
Airport in 2018, polling shows that the vast majority of the public would
support the more widespread adoption of drones if there was a mechanism to
provide increased safety, security and monitoring. For example, 92% of people
support drone use for tacking fires and natural disaster relief.
To ensure the UK moves in the right
direction on drones, the Government should recognise and analyse the
substantial benefits that can come from cellular-connected drone use. It is
only by pushing forward with the development of these drones that the UK can
fully benefit from the use of the new technology, whilst ensuring they are
flown safely and securely.
Across the world, organisations are
waking up to the benefits of responsible drone usage. Here in the UK, the
London Fire Brigade has been trialling the use of drones to improve safety for
their firefighters and to allow more accurate responses to incidents.
Firefighters also used drones to tackle the giant blazes during Paris’s recent
Notre Dame cathedral fire. By doing so, they were able to make tactical choices
to stop the fire at the time when it was potentially occupying the two belfries
of the cathedral.
Further afield, drones fitted with
high definition thermal cameras are increasingly used to track, inspect and
monitor livestock remotely. The government of Assam in India partnered with
Tata Consulting Services to use drones to conduct surveillance, identify
unauthorized settlements and deter poachers in Kaziranga National Park. With
drones spread over 480 square kilometres, they can now identify poachers from
their heat signatures even if they are hiding in thick foliage. Already, this
effort has proved beneficial for the vulnerable one-horned rhino.
If we get it right, then it is not
just our emergency services and endangered species that will benefit. The
economic prize for the UK could also be enormous. By 2030, it is estimated that
there will be 76,000 drones in the skies above the UK and 628,000 jobs in the
UK drones economy. Drones are also expected to contribute to considerable GDP
uplifts in many industries, including £8.6bn in construction and manufacturing,
£7.7bn in wholesale, retail trade and food services and £11.4bn in the public
All the signs are that, in the next
few years, responsible use of drones is set to bring huge gains for the economy
and society. The UK is ready to reap the benefits of cellular-connected drones
technology and if we do then 2020 could be the year that drone technology truly
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.
The insurance industry is continuing to embrace
drone technology, but commercial drone operators such as Iprosurv still have so
much more to offer our clients and continue to assist and educate our clients
on the benefits of drones, including
better safety, efficiency, faster turnaround time, and reduced costs. Goldman
Sachs estimates the global drone industry to reach $100 billion by 2020. Given
that insurers today are struggling with an increasing amount of damage from
natural disasters and fraud, plenty of insurance companies are aspiring to be
data-driven organizations. PwC reported that drone technology could help the
insurance industry save as much as 6.8 billion USD annually.
Insurance companies are already turning to commercial drone companies. Drones can play a part in all the stages of the insurance lifecycle, especially claims management and fraud prevention. Drone powered solutions also help with real-time insights, risk monitoring, and assessment, as well as improving customer experience during claims and surge events.
Drones can be used to gather data before a risk is insured, to help in preventative maintenance, and to assess damage after an event. They also allow insurers to engage a generalist, rather than a specialist, to perform field assessments and obtain high-quality visuals. The insurer can achieve significant cost savings through improved efficiency, generating the ROI for investing in drones. Insurers are increasingly using drones for property assessments. Used in the Risk environment drones can help policy holder and insurer formulate a maintenance program over the term of the policy or prior to insurance inception.
Accelerate Claim Management
Insurance companies can assess damage quicker and
more efficiently with drone operations by eliminating the need for multiple
site visits. For example, a drone can help a claims adjuster process three
houses in an hour, whereas without one, an adjuster could process only about
three houses in a day (Farmers Insurance). Drones can increase inspection
efficiency by up to 85%.
Data Touch Points
When a claim
occurs, it can involve multiple stakeholders, Loss Adjusters, Insurers,
Forensics, Structural Engineers, Emergency Services, Local Authorities each one
requiring instant visual data to make key decisions in the progression of the
claim or incident, large amounts of data can be obtained by the use of drone
technology, but the use cases don’t stop there, through the use of advanced
analytics and software’s stakeholders can receive the data in multiple use
formats from basic photogrammetry, 3D modelling, BIMM models. Each stakeholder
may use the same data set in a different way dependent on the information they
Drones can particularly play a significant role
while settling agricultural insurances, as they assess the actual yield and
cultivable land. A drone can gather data on 500 to 1,000 acres in less than a
day, thereby reducing the time it takes to settle claims- from days to hours.
Using drones, Drones have been able to survey three times as many acres as an
adjuster on foot and efficiently account for all of a customer’s crop damage.
Improving Customer Experience During Catastrophes
Inclement weather and challenging to reach
locations, make it cumbersome for insurers to reach, which eventually results
in delay and failure to resolve a large number of claims in a given time. Storms
and floods make up large percentage of insured losses. As seen in the aftermath
of Hurricane Irma, 300 high-rise buildings were inspected by GFA Generali
insurance using drones. The process took just ten days, whereas a ground crew
of the same size would have taken several months.
When appraising property claims, claim adjusters
typically encounter hazardous situations. Drone-mapping is a safer inspection
method. Companies like Iprosurv are making drone roof inspection more efficient
and safer by reducing their exposure to accidents and hazardous conditions. With
the implementation of Iprosurvs Major Loss package insurers, loss adjusters,
forensics, structural engineers and local authorities to name but a few can
have access to vital data to asses interim payments and scope of works all this
can be done without attending the initial site visit when the structure is deemed
unsafe to enter or the site is under a strict health and safety cordon due to
the possibility of collapse or injury to personel.
Bespoke Online Portal.
of the art software and technology we are able to deliver large amounts of data
in user friendly interfaces. With the addition of Iprosurv bespoke portal we
are able to deliver large amounts of data in a safe compliant environment with
multiple stakeholders. The system is setup to be an end to end system for our
clients with multiple touchpoints built in.
If you would like to know more about Iprosurv
please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by visiting our website at www.iprosurv.com.
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.
NATS has today launched its new free online drone training course, aimed at new drone owners and hobbyists.
Steve Graham, head of business engagement at NATS, said: “We hope new and existing drone users will find our new online hobbyist course useful as a fun-to-use tool with a serious message. NATS strongly supports fair and equal access for all types of aircraft, manned and unmanned, in integrated airspace – and it is important that all users of airspace do so safely, responsibly, and with due regard for the needs of others.”
Adding: “By designing an animated video with clear and accessible voice over narration and multiple-choice quiz questions, our aim is to provide accurate and practical information as a reference guide that will be helpful for all drone operators, especially new drone owners and hobbyists.”
https://iprosurv.com/2020/01/28/drones-taking-off-in-the-claims-process/Drones Taking off in the Claims Process?
https://iprosurv.com/2020/01/22/2020-could-be-the-year-that-drones-take-off/2020 could be the year that drones take off
https://iprosurv.com/2019/12/20/to-drone-or-not-to-drone/To Drone or Not to Drone
https://iprosurv.com/2019/12/09/insurance-companies-continue-to-embrace-drone-technology-but-we-have-so-much-more-to-offer/Insurance Companies Continue to Embrace Drone Technology…But we have so much more to offer!