Claims Adjusters & Drones – What are the issues?

Claims adjusters and drones - what are the issues?

As a claims adjuster, are you thinking of using drones?

Drones have been a significant topic of discussion in the insurance industry for the past year or so. Many insurance companies have already filed their drone usage applications. At first glance, drones appear to be valuable assets for claims adjusters, however there are some issues to tackle first. What type of barriers could affect this tool’s usefulness for the insurance industry?

Who’s flying the drone?
With drones being so new, technology and the law haven’t quite caught up. According to King Schools, (experts in aviation training) ‘to legally fly a drone for commercial purposes, the operator must have approval per Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.’ Additionally: ‘the person who will operate the drone is required to have at a minimum either a private pilot or sport pilot certificate.’

So, while claims adjusters possess licensing to adjust claims, they are not qualified to fly drones. A private pilot or sport pilot certificate would be an additional expense to your team of adjusters or company.

Are drones as good as hiring a claims adjuster?
While drones can provide accurate data and images of an insured’s property, would that be enough to do part of a claims adjuster’s job? When there’s damage to a roof and it is evaluated in person, the adjuster is able to identify and view damage that may not be visible from a photo. A drone only inspection would likely not be thorough enough. This is especially important when there is a question about damage and/or a coverage issue.

FAA Regulations
Prior to your drone taking flight, you must file a flight plan with the FAA. While this may be considered a straight forward process, it’s nonetheless still a step that must be completed before a drone may enter the airspace. In addition, you’ll have to obtain permission to fly in a residential area.

[Related: Claims Adjuster, Do You Need a Designated Home State or Resident License?]

Privacy Issues
After filing your flight plan with the FAA to examine the damaged property, it’s worth noting that your drone will be privy to neighboring house details – both external and internal. Issues regarding privacy could therefore be problematic for insurance companies and claims adjusters.

Sign up to receive TheBestIRS Insurance Job AlertsAre drones cost-effective for a claims adjuster?
Depending on the type of drone you and your company would purchase, price range varies drastically. Drones range from a few hundred dollars to $300,000. Flight time varies too. The Matrice 100 costs $3,299, has approximately 40 minutes of flight time, and can fly 3.1 miles. The AEE F100 is priced at $58,000 and has a flight time of 70 minutes (stand alone with no accessories added). If the operator adds a range extender, the the drone can reach up to 13.7 miles.

While drones have their issues, they could still be valuable assets to the insurance industry, especially in the event of a disaster.
After a catastrophe occurs, the impacted area could be large and may span over different types of terrain. Drones have the potential to speed up damage evaluation. Together with the Carrier’s PIF count (Policies In Force) and catastrophe modeling, the drone could be extremely helpful in determining the client’s potential claim count. It would also help ascertain the resources needed to handle claims and how many claims adjusters should be deployed.

Are you or your company considering a drone?

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