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5 Ways Drones Are Changing Insurance

According to a recent survey of U.S. consumers, more than 32% of all respondents—and 50% of those aged 18–25—said they prefer to work directly with insurance carriers. We are also experiencing rapid changes in the amount of data that insurers are gathering and analyzing: The number of internet-connected devices and sensors is projected to reach 50 billion by 2020, providing real-time information that insurers can use for better pricing/underwriting. Meanwhile, drones are expected to have a $6.8 billion impact on the insurance industry.

See also: Drones Reducing Accidents on Job  

As a drone enthusiast myself, I’ve been lucky to use my drone to capture aerial imagery—footage I was unable to take a few short years ago. This is but one of the copious amounts of types of data unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can obtain to support the insurance industry. Accordingly, I curated a list of the top five ways drones are affecting the insurance industry.

1. Drones already play an important part in the insurance claims process

Customer experience is paramount, and the ability to shorten the claims timeframe is crucial. Today, one claims adjuster on-site and equipped with a drone can set up an automated flight plan around multiple insured locations; evaluate the properties using sensors; and capture images. According to Cognizant, drone usage is predicted to make claims adjusters’ workflow 40% to 50% more efficient. Drones can improve the speed with which customers receive settlements and give claims managers  a better sense of where and how many staff should be deployed. There is also less risk for claims adjusters, who no longer need to climb ladders or go on roofs to assess damage.

2. More precise risk management and tailored pricing

Drones can be used to collect information about a property before a policy is issued, by capturing data on property features that make it less vulnerable, such as storm shutters. The data can facilitate personalized premiums. After all, insurance is all about measuring risk and accurately pricing it.

3. Better data, better catastrophe models

Aerial imagery taken by drones enhances data for catastrophe model components and provides inputs for analysis. As discussed in this blog post, for catastrophe model developers and users there is mutually beneficial interplay between model development, engineering analysis and exposure and claims data quality. Improving the feedback loop between underwriters, claims adjusters and model validation can substantially increase a cat model’s performance in quantifying risk.

4. Lower losses from fraud

According to the Insurance Information Institute, fraud accounts for about 10% of property and casualty insurance losses and loss adjustment expenses, which translates to about $32 billion each year. In addition, 57% of insurers predict an increase in this type of fraud by policyholders. How can drones help? After an extreme event, it is common for insurance companies to receive numerous claims for damages that existed before the event occurred. By using UAVs prior to an extreme event to capture images of insured properties, companies can protect themselves from such fraudulent claims.

5. Drones and artificial intelligence come together

Artificial intelligence (AI) integrated with drones will allow for more independent functionality. IBM’s AI system, Watson, is able to automatically process aerial imagery, assess hail damage and calculate damage extent. Drones integrated with AI will provide an end-to-end solution that will allow for an expedited claims process, reduction in costs and increase in customer satisfaction.

See also: What Is the Future for Drones?  

An extreme event can devastate a region and affect thousands of lives. For the insurers and people affected, timing is everything. Organizations need to dedicate resources immediately, effectively and efficiently to help get communities and businesses back on their feet.

In this era of rapid technological advancement, drones are one of the many new tools with which life, business and the global economy are being transformed.