A Drone Pilot’s Perspective on Insurance Claims

The following content was first created for Claims Journal. See here for the original post.

Drones are proving to be an affordable, scalable solution for conducting aerial inspections. For large businesses looking to conduct adjustments more efficiently, drones are the optimal way to conserve time and money.

In 2016, the FAA’s updated regulations granted insurers approval to use drones for aerial inspections — and so began a slow but steady transformation within the insurance industry that has led to time and cost efficiencies for inspections. Now, rather than sending adjusters up to dangerous heights on potentially-unstable foundation, drone pilots are assigned to survey damage and deliver high-quality imagery to help with claims handling, risk assessment and payment.

Aerial inspections are not just easier. They’re safer, too. Sending a drone out to inspect a claim is far less risky than having an adjuster take photos of property damage, as scaling unsafe heights and puts the adjuster’s personal safety at risk.

Take Denver-based drone pilot Vic Moss, for example. As an architectural photographer since 1988, drones were just a natural extension of Moss’ own business. When drones first hit the mainstream market, he began capturing aerial imagery for a few of his clients, and they were impressed with the sweeping aerial views he was able to capture. As Vic put it, “How can you resist the ability to have the tallest, most versatile tripod in the world?”.

From Moss’ perspective, the industry hasn’t stopped expanding since he first became interested in drones: “It’s been nothing but growth”, he commented. There’s research to support his observation, too — Goldman Sachs forecasted a $100 billion market opportunity for drones, listing insurance claims as the third most potentially-dominant market.

Today, Moss has conducted hundreds of aerial inspections for DroneBase, an aerial imagery provider with a network of thousands of drone pilots across the United States. DroneBase conducts on-demand inspections in regions that suffer from seasonal claims like hail storms, and dispatches pilots to inspection locations after the storms have settled.

Moss is one of DroneBase’s top pilots: “I decided to get more serious about insurance missions because Denver is one of the most hail-prone areas in the nation. Based on past history, I knew there would be hailstorms this summer…so I started doing the large volume insurance missions just after the storm came through”.

The process is usually straightforward, said Moss.

“All missions follow the same basic shot list, and are shot in the same basic order. So once you have the system down, you get faster, and the missions get easier,” he said.

How much easier? Most missions take less than an hour to complete.

“Depending on the size of homes, and the number of outbuildings and complexity of the roofline, I’m finding they take 30–45 minutes per mission,” said Moss. “About half of the is on the ground, and the other half in the air.”

A faster process means drone pilots are able to complete far more inspections than an adjuster would in any given day.

Aerial inspections are a mutually beneficial opportunity for both companies and drone pilots. Drone pilots are able to easily find work, while companies save time and money without sacrificing inspection quality.

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