Drones for insurance? It’s not so far-fetched. Consider that these small, lightweight devices can be outfitted with cameras, GPS units and specialized equipment to enable insurers to better manage claims and risk.

Here are some potential use cases:

  • Improved risk assessment. Drones offer a cost-effective way to assess risks—particularly for large sites and multi-story buildings—to facilitate more accurate pricing, rating and loss control.
  • Claims adjustment after catastrophes or natural disasters. Rather than sending a team of adjusters into potentially dangerous territory, insurers could deploy drones to survey post-disaster damage—for faster claims adjustment and resolution, better customer service and more accurate estimation of losses.
  • Claims adjustment for large or complex sites. Again, it can be more efficient and effective for drones, rather than people, to survey large or complex facilities. In principle, drones can also get closer to relevant features to obtain photos, without having to touch (and potentially damage) the site. Further, GPS tracking ensures that the photos have exact coordinates for where they were taken.
  • Knowledge transfer and just-in-time training. My colleague Darcy Dague has written previously about how tablets can facilitate knowledge transfer between junior and senior adjusters, and enable feedback between adjusters and supervisors. Drones could have similar benefits. For instance, a junior adjuster could control a drone on site, with a senior adjuster at the home office providing real-time guidance on areas of interest, such as potential sources of hidden damage. Photographs and video footage, plus GPS data, could also enable more personalized training and feedback between an adjuster and supervisor.

To be clear, drones offer a safer and faster way to obtain information about potential risks or sites, and do not replace the expertise offered by a claims adjuster. In a time when claims leaders are being asked to do more with less, drones could enable them to retool workflows to get the most out of their most valuable resource: people.

That said, what must insurers consider before incorporating drones into their day-to-day operations? I’ll discuss that next week; stay tuned.

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