How Drones Can Help Insurance Companies Research Claims, Assess Damages

With approval from the FAA, Allstate Insurance will use drones for assessments in areas hit by catastrophe with limited accessibility due to debris or local authorities.

by Corilyn Shropshire, Chicago Tribune / June 18, 2015

(TNS) — Allstate said Wednesday that it is one step closer to using drones to assess damages after catastrophes.

The insurer, based in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, said that a new ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration will allow the consortium it works with to research the benefits of flying drones to assess property claims.

The year-old Property Drone Consortium is led by EagleView Technology, whose services include aerial imagery and data analysis.

Allstate said that in a disaster, access to neighborhoods might be restricted by debris or local authorities and that drones could help claims professionals serve customers in spite of those restrictions.

The approval will allow for the use of drones to collect and process images by the insurer. The consortium said it also plans to continue researching safety, including collision avoidance, visual line of sight and automated flight planning with drones.

Clearing the FAA hurdle is a big step forward as the company continues its research on using drones for property claims, Shawn Broadfield, an Allstate claims vice president, said in a statement. “Having the ability to use drones in areas hit hard by catastrophe where accessibility is limited will help us better assist our customers when they need us most,” he said.

There are restrictions, however, on the consortium’s use of drones for research. They include keeping the drones 400 feet above ground and 5 nautical miles away from airports with a control tower. The drones must only be used on private property and the pilot must have a pilot’s license. Permission to do this research for drones will expire on May 31, 2017.

©2015 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.