Drones Taking off in the Claims Process?

Drones Taking off in the Claims Process?

At a glance

  • 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

Posted in General Interest, Information, Iprosurv News

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To Drone or Not to Drone

Gregor Paton ACII
Major Regional Loss Property Claims Manager
(London Market)

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.

Jonathan Jones
Major Regional Loss Property Claims Manager
(London Market)

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/

Posted in General Interest, Information, Iprosurv News

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https://iprosurv.com/2020/01/28/drones-taking-off-in-the-claims-process/Drones Taking off in the Claims Process?

https://iprosurv.com/2019/12/20/to-drone-or-not-to-drone/To Drone or Not to Drone