Coming soon to your neighborhood: Insurance drones
Expect that insurance drones will soon be deployed on some of your upcoming claims. See Greg Ryan's story in Boston Business Journal for an update: It's a bird, it's a plane, it's an ... insurance adjuster? Liberty Mutual to begin using drones.
Ryan reports that in June, the Federal Aviation Administration granted the Boston-based insurance company permission to use four types of drones of varying sizes. The drones are restricted to a height of 400 feet off the ground, a maximum weight of 55 pounds and a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour.
The drones will at least initially be used to inspect sites damaged in hurricanes and other large-scale natural disasters, to help adjusters assess a wide swath over damage in a relatively short amount of time.
The drones will keep Liberty Mutual claims adjusters and contractors safer, the insurer said, since they won’t have to take the risks of piloting a plane or falling off a ladder during a roof inspection.
In Insurance Journal, Rachel Adams-Heard reports that the FAA is approving 250 drone permits a month, despite the fact that there are final rules. She reports that in 2012, Congress ordered the FAA to set up a waiver program for safe drone use while permanent rules were being drafted.
"Most exemptions grant permission to capture aerial images, either by still or video camera or by using more advanced equipment such as infrared sensors and scanners. Photography and videography was listed on 50 percent of requests, followed by 27 percent for inspections and 24 percent for mapping and surveying. Most applicants listed multiple potential uses."
The article notes that several other insurance companies have been approved for drone use, including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Travelers Companies Inc. More are likely to follow soon since the FAA is "granting near-automatic approval when a request is for a use that was previously authorized."
Drones: The Insurance Industry’s Next Game-Changer? (PDF)
The Drones Are Coming: What Do They Mean for Insurance?