Earlier this month USAA petitioned the FAA for permission to begin testing the use of UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles- aka- drone aircraft) in processing insurance claims. They are hoping that this technology will speed up the claims process, especially in the case of a natural disaster when access to effected areas can be limited and/or dangerous. The FAA has to respond within 120 days, so we can expect a decision sometime in January 2015. If approved, the company will conduct testing on the USAA campus and privately owned, unpopulated land in San Antonio. In recent weeks State Farm Insurance has also said they are considering the use of drones for claims handling. Obviously the idea of using drones in claims handling is taking off! Get it? Taking off? Drones? Heh, heh, heeeh.
Saving time and making the claims process more efficient not only increases customer satisfaction- it could ultimately save insurers money. In addition, the use of drones could eliminate much of the inherent risk associated with scoping a loss, namely- climbing roofs.
While the use of this technology is exciting and the applications are myriad, it is not intended to be a replacement for real-live adjusters. More likely, drones will become another item in the adjuster “tool-belt”, which will save time, increase efficiency, decrease risk and boost productivity.
The FAA has been rather strict about the use of drones for commercial applications and until recently only a handful of companies operating in the Arctic have been given permission by the FAA for using drones for business purposes. Last month they granted six movie/television production companies permission to use drones for filming. With continued pressure on the FAA coming from numerous industries and congress to develop guidelines for business use, we will surely see a rise in drone utilization across the commercial sector.