Crawford® Canada’s Drone Proves Effective
Editor’s note: The following is a condensed version of a publication released by Crawford & Company® (Canada) Inc. in September 2015. Take a few minutes and read Drone Technology in Insurance in its entirety. It may be downloaded from Crawford Canada’s website at http://ca.crawfordandcompany.com/media-center/publications.aspx.
Mention drones and people often conjure up space-age images of sophisticated machines used for military, law enforcement or search-and-rescue missions. But insurance?
The idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the property & casualty insurance industry is quickly becoming a reality. Several insurance companies have either applied for commercial drone licenses related to claims handling or introduced coverage solutions for drone operators.
Thousands of drones are currently operating in Canada in varied uses, such as producing films, helping search-and-rescue crews and inspecting mines, pipelines and crops. Drone operators who use UAVs heavier than 25 kilograms must get a Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC) through Transport Canada. In 2014, Transport Canada issued 1,672 of these certificates to commercial drone operators or recreational pilots.
Crawford® (Canada) recently purchased a drone and is mapping out its use in the claims handling cycle. However, an incident arose on Sept. 14, 2015, that proved the effectiveness of the use of drones in surveying damages at a loss site.
Pat Van Bakel, president and CEO of Crawford Canada, used the Crawco drone to survey damage at a fire-loss site in Waterloo, ON. The drone captured significant footage of a Dollarama that was engulfed by flames. Such information gained by the drone is vital in surveying and assessing the extent of damage at loss sites that are either unsafe or difficult to reach.
Potential usage of drones in the insurance industry is vast. “It could be on a large commercial loss such as a warehouse or industrial site, where access may be delayed due to safety concerns or clean up,” Van Bakel said. “A drone could give almost instant information on the extent of damages.”
Crawford’s activities align with the actions of some insurers, who have applied for commercial licenses to operate UAVs for claim-handling purposes. In the United States, State Farm, AIG and USAA have recently received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test drones in areas such as assessing roof damage and responding to natural disasters.
“Some insurers are now offering drone insurance coverage, so it is only a matter of time until claims relating to use of drones start coming in,” says Greg Thierman, branch manager of Crawford (Canada’s) Kelowna, B.C., office.
Thierman notes several potential aspects of investigating UAV losses relevant to adjusters and risk managers—a drone crashes and causes property damage, a drone distracts a driver and causes an accident, an allegation of breach of privacy and lawsuit against a drone operator or owner.
“With the advances in technology and the costs of the equipment coming down, (drones) will become more and more prevalent,” Thierman says. “So too will the possible claim scenarios.”