Posted November 18, 2021
A Bird's Eye View: Drones Bring a New Perspective to the Insurance Industry

ICC’s Senior Loss Control Representative, Glen Norton, has been a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certified Remote Pilot since 2016. This certificate requires an understanding of the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying UAVs (Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles) or drones.

Drones are tools that can provide improved data collection during the inspection process, including surveying the roof, site, location, and adjoining buildings and structures. The use of drones is gaining momentum as a risk management tool in the insurance industry. They are lightweight and relatively easy to fly.

Glen uses a DJ Phantom model, which connects to his iPhone and provides live streaming video from the HD video camera. The model can handle flight times of up to twenty-five minutes and comes with a rechargeable battery.

According to Deloitte Consulting LLP, a company that provides a variety of benchmarking, consulting, and analytical services to the insurance industry, drones offer additional benefits to insurance companies: “Aerial site assessments can identify property features that allow the owner to either seek a reduced risk profile or take appropriate actions to lower overall risk and justify premium discounts.”

Currently, the use of drones is restricted to low-level airspace (typically 400 feet above ground level). The FAA also requires that the drone operator and a visual observer be close enough to maintain a constant line of sight with the drone. This may limit where and when the Loss Control Team can utilize drones in the field. Urban areas and severe weather conditions provide additional challenges for drone usage.

While we acknowledge there are limitations to the use of drones, we have seen an advantage in using this technology during the inspection process and believe the claims process, particularly in fire losses, may benefit as well.

The use of drones can aid in data collection and potentially reduce the time it takes to prepare repair estimates.

The Loss Control Department plans to add two additional drones to its fleet in the year ahead and extend training opportunities to ICC’s Claims Department.

If there are additional questions, please contact your agent. The Find an Agent search on our website will help you find an ICC agent in your area.