The Upside of Drones and Insurance
Privacy concerns. Safety issues. Security breaches. Oh my! It’s easy to see how unmanned aircraft (also known as “drones”) can easily become an insurance nightmare in the near future.
In the flurry of sensational journalism, though, we overlook the fact that drones could actually do the insurance industry a lot of good! Some insurers are even exploring the possibilities of using unmanned aerial photography to streamline the adjustment process.
Look out, Amazon!
At the heart of drone-mania is the idea of sending small, versatile machines in places where humans not only CAN’T go, but SHOULDN’T be going. Despite the growing pains of learning how to write policies for unmanned aircraft (sound familiar?), the drone opens the doors for keeping people out of harm’s way and reducing common insurance risks that make for high premiums and costly claims.
Indulge me for a few minutes while we take a speculative look into the future of insurance where drones have become a way of life.
Falling off a ladder? Sliding off of a roof? Dangling from the gutter? All things of the past! Imagine drones that can cut tree limbs for you while you’re a safe distance away. Imagine drones that wash out your gutters so you don’t have to risk ladder safety or contending with power lines. Hey, even imagine using a camera-mounted drone to survey roof damage without actually having to be on the roof yourself! Both your insurance company and your wife will be thankful.
Many homeowner premium spikes occur because of potentially dangerous situations in which homeowners and/or others can find themselves. Mitigating these risks with drones might very well be possible in the near future. Just don’t hold your breath for a lawn-mowing drone. You’re probably better off doing that yourself.
The workplace can be dangerous, mostly because of the dangerous situations in which employees find themselves, hence the need for regulations, inspections, and OSHA compliance. But what if you could use unmanned drones to perform these dangerous tasks instead? How much safer could the workplace be?
The Pennsylvania energy industry has already found applications for these little guys. When dealing with oil and natural gas pipeline inspections, it requires actual people traveling over dangerous terrain for days to find problems in the system. This, of course, exposes people to gas leaks, toxic fumes, potential physical injuries and even explosions.
Not only could drones do all the dangerous work, but they can also do it in a fraction of the time. Less potential for injury. Less liability. Less insurance risk.
Aerial photographers have already been singing the praises of commercial drones and finding all sorts of creative uses for them, but researchers and weather bureaus are already sending them into places where no human should ever go.
Humans can only withstand so much heat until our bodies start to react. Drones, however, are built to withstand insanely high temperatures, broadcasting a goldmine of data while humans stay far away, and that’s exactly what they’re doing in the field of volcano research.
Storm chasing may also benefit from drone usage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has developed a drone called “The Coyote” that is capable of flying into the eye of a hurricane and sending back reports that could not only more accurately predict the projected path and intensity of a storm, but save lives as well.
Drones are already making strides in risk mitigation. Could drones deliver lower insurance premiums in the process, or will other risks negate any potential savings? So far, it’s hard to tell, but it’s a question in which insurers and customers alike are very well invested. In the near future, we’ll have more data…
…and it will likely be delivered electronically via drones.
First Baldwin Insurance