Insurers in the US have started the deployment of fleets of drones to help assess the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. ABC News, a US press outlet, has profiled several companies deploying such technologies. According to ABC, insurers trialled out the usage of drones after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, but since then many companies have increased the number of drones in their fleet, and certified drivers. Eased Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules have also allowed more drones to take flight.
Travelers Insurance is one of the companies that has taken advantage of these new technologies, and according to ABC, currently has 65 certified drone pilots in the Houston area. One such recently trained pilot, claims specialist Laura Shell, told ABC: “It's going to allow me to get a look into areas that aren't easily accessible and onto roofs and do it quickly.”
Since the hurricane, the FAA has allowed 43 operators, including news outlets, to operate drones to assist in assessing the damage. Another insurer that has mobilised its drone fleet is Allstate, although it has bolstered its efforts with extra drones from a third-party operator. Company spokesperson Justin Herndon told ABC that it is also using fixed-wing aircraft, equipped with artificial intelligence technology, in order to assess damage done to property. He added: “This is the widest-scale use of drones that we've ever been a part of to date.”
Insurers hope that the use of this technology will speed up the claims process, meaning that those in need of a pay-out will receive it sooner.