Two of the largest insurers are processing millions of property claims following Hurricane Matthew more efficiently by using drones.
The hurricane, which rampaged through the Caribbean and several Southern Seaboard states, was responsible for an estimated 1,300 deaths and $6.91 billion in damage. Allstate and Travelers deployed several drones over parts of South Carolina and Georgia this past week to assess damage and to hopefully put insurance money into the pockets of stricken policyholders quicker.
“Our use of drones will help customers recover from losses more quickly because it expedites inspections, payments and repairs,” Travelers Senior Claims Vice President of Claim Patrick Gee said in a press release. “The drones also help protect our claim professionals by eliminating the need to climb ladders to inspect roofs and other elevated structures.”
Allstate’s quadcopters can capture 4K-resolution images and the company says this allows adjusters to zoom in for extreme detail on any individual shingle on a roof or a crack in a building.
“When I started back in 1999 with the National Catastrophe Team, I used a Polaroid camera to take pictures of the damage,” Allstate Catastrophe Adjuster Charlie Urban said in a press release. “Now, seeing us use drones is unbelievable. I’m really excited to see where the technology might go in the future.”
Travelers launched a UAV training program earlier this year and employs 60 FAA-certified adjusters to pilot drones. Allstate tested inspection drones following a hail storm in Texas this past August following the release of the FAA’s Part 107 revision for commercial drone use.
“We have been active in the drone space, testing and researching use cases for a while now,” Allstate Chief Claims Officer Glenn Shapiro said. “To be able to use drones with our customers who have actual storm damage is a big step forward.”
In April, the insurance giant joined the Property Drone Consortium, a collaboration of insurance carriers and construction industry leaders that pledges to “work together to promote the development of standards and specifications for the safe use of unmanned aircraft system technology in the insurance and construction industries.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, other organizations are using drones to inspect damage and identify trouble spots. Wireless provider Verizon launched several drone missions in heavily flooded regions in North and South Carolina to examine damaged or offline cell equipment nodes.