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Drones and their role in claims

At a glance

  • Alex Jones, Head of Media & Public Relations, Zurich UK, discusses drones and the part they are already playing in the claims process
  • Using drones may seem either a little futuristic, something for hobbyists, or an extreme way to get a selfie, but the fact is that they have already become a part of how we deal with claims
  • We have used drones across the world to ‘see’ damaged properties before anyone can set foot in dangerous locations where there may be claims

Alex Jones, Head of Media & Public Relations, Zurich UK, discusses drones and the part they are already playing in the claims process.

Using drones may seem either a little futuristic, something for hobbyists, or an extreme way to get a selfie, but the fact is that they have already become a part of how we deal with claims – particular larger more wide-reaching ones. They also pose a question around the risks they present themselves – and how insurance policies can adapt, or new ones be created, to take them into account.

We have used drones across the world to ‘see’ damaged properties before anyone can set foot in dangerous locations where there may be claims – and this helps us inform customers about potential damage, and process their claims more quickly.

Drones used in this way are essentially an extension of other types of visual assessments we’re already able to do. For example, we regularly use a wealth of information about sites where there may be claims to do remote assessments long before we ever visit a customer’s factory or home – and one way of doing this even before the drones have been sent in, is to look at imagery from satellites and aircraft.

In 2016 we used this approach to assess property in the path of huge wildfires in Alberta, Canada, which burned through the town of McMurray. We were able to review customers’ claims in Fort McMurray just two days after fires forced the town’s evacuation, and long before anyone could enter the site. It was possible to link the pictures of the damage and cross reference this with our risk modelling and underwriting information. We also looked at the status of evacuations, and how quickly the fires were spreading by monitoring social media.

As I write this sat outside near our global head office in Zurich, a drone is buzzing overhead – probably taking pictures of the lake in the evening sunshine. Their easy availability though does also pose a question for insurers about mitigating any risks they may present. And again, in Canada we have extended property and liability insurance for Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV) under 25 kilograms.”

Although aimed at commercial customers who may use drones to complement their main operations, insurers are looking at the evolution of drone usage across all its forms – including for leisure like the one over my head.

Companies should be aware of what new technologies they may be using, so they are able to understand how and why they might be exposed to new risks.

For more information please speak with your local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

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