Friday, July 24, 2015

Liberty Mutual approved to use drones to assess property damage

The Boston Business Journal reports here

My first thought was that the use of drones would allow insurers to make faster initial assessments of property damage after large- or largish-scale disasters.  Although insurers have in place the ability to mobilize adjusters from all over the country to descend on a region that has been hit by a hurricane, severe winter storm, or other event, it can still take weeks to get an adjuster to a particular property to assess damages. Sometimes after one look the adjusters realize they are from the wrong department and they need someone who can approve higher reserves to come out.

Unfortunately, though, the reality appears to be that, if anything, the use of drones will slow down initial assessments because they will require two people per drone -- an observer of the drone and a licensed pilot.  It's not clear whether the drone observer will also be an adjuster who can assess damages, including internal damage to a building; nor does the article say what type of specific training will be required for the drone-observer. 

Unless insurers team up to use a single drone team after a disaster, use of drones is unlikely to add much to efficiency, since in any neighborhood many homeowner's or general liability insurers provide coverage for the various properties located there. 

As the Boston Business Journal points out, however, use of drones will improve safety for adjusters and also allow photographs to be taken of otherwise inaccessible areas such as roofs shortly after the loss. 

As with any technological change, we'll see how it plays out in practice. 

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