Tech and Innovation: How Drones Can Improve the Insurance Claims Process in Disaster Recovery


Drones were originally developed by the military to safely conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions without risk to human life. Since then, the use of drones has evolved greatly, expanding into many personal and commercial applications.

For businesses, drones offer a way to capture images and footage like never before. But before a business can deploy a drone, it must acquire special certificates and authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the authority over all U.S. airspace and regulator over the domestic use of drones.

From aerial views of sporting matches to the filming of movies, drones are increasing in popularity in the commercial sector. However, the entertainment industry is not alone in wanting to explore the benefits of drone technology. Seeing the potential to improve how services are delivered, the insurance industry wants to be next.

How Would the Insurance Industry Use Drones?

The insurance industry wants to use drones to revolutionize how clients are serviced during and after natural disasters.

After a natural disaster (i.e. a tornado, hurricane, flood, earthquake, etc.), property adjusters typically arrive on-scene to survey and assess the damage caused to commercial and residential property. But in the aftermath and chaos of the disaster, it is often difficult for an adjuster to assess a claim, especially if the event has caused damage to transportation ways and critical access points.

But what if access to traditional transportation routes was no longer an issue? Imagine how this could change the landscape of property insurance and the claims/recovery process.

With the use of drones, an adjuster could gain a detailed look at a disaster zone from the convenience and safety of an off-site location. Without the time and resources needed to travel, navigate broken transportation ways and assess large areas, adjusters could utilize drones to expedite the assessment and claims process.

For example, picture a hurricane that passed through a coastal town--homes and businesses are destroyed, streets are flooded, and the entire area is left without power or running water. Once the storm clears, adjusters could deploy drones to start the claims process immediately, helping them accomplish what matters most--getting relief to victims.

Steps Needed to Make Drones A Reality For Insurance

The insurance industry needs widespread authorization from the FAA to continue exploring drone opportunities; this process, however, is easier said than done. The FAA is very strict (with good reason) about commercial drone use and whom it grants authorization to.

Beyond the FAA and airspace regulations, the insurance industry would also have to address privacy issues before drone initiatives could be put into place. Privacy issues have always been at the forefront of discussion when it comes to drones. There are legitimate concerns regarding the inadvertent violation of bystanders' privacy.

Another obstacle to address is the potential for property damage or harm to civilians should a drone crash. Although this is less likely to happen, it is a risk that should be considered prior to insurers activation of drone programs.

Looking to the Future

While the conversation currently focuses on the application to disaster recovery, the possibilities are endless. Imagine how much more efficient and accurate the insurance process would become if drones were used in home or commercial building and property inspections, as well as the underwriting process.

Even on a smaller scale, adjusters could control drones remotely to immediately inspect the scene of an accident and extent of damage to your vehicle, or gather details of a personal injury from an emergency respondent at the scene. With the ability to quickly and easily execute the claims process, insurance providers could drastically cut down on time and resources needed to help policyholders recover from a loss.

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