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Insurers Utilize Fleets of Drones to Speed Harvey Disaster Recovery

| September 1, 2017


Following the devastating power of Harvey, a new fleet is busy at work — fleets of drones ready to assess billions of dollars of damages for the insurance industry. 

The goal is to accelerate payouts for policyholders.

“Harvey is an opportunity to see whose drones are capable and whose are merely toys,” said George Mathew, chairman and chief executive of Kespry, a drone company based in Menlo Park, California. “Harvey is a seminal moment for the industry.”

Harvey marks the second major hurricane since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) loosened restrictions on drones last June, allowing greater use for filming, inspecting facilities and other commercial activities.

Thousands of people have since obtained FAA certificates with more than 770,000 drones have been registered with the FAA to fly in U.S. airspace.

Allstate Corp., the second-largest property insurer in Texas behind State Farm, expects its drone fleet to make at least thousands of flights a week in the damaged areas once its claims processing becomes fully operational, company spokesman Justin Herndon said.

Commercial drone launches have been delayed, however, because the FAA has restricted the airspace in and around Houston for rescue aircraft.

Once the airspace is cleared, the sky is expected to buzz with activity and potential danger as commercial users and hobbyists converge.

Farmers Insurance, the third largest property insurer in Texas and part of Zurich Insurance Group AG, plans to use Kespry drones to assess damage in a joint effort with on-the-ground claims adjusters. Kespry drones fit in a suitcase-size carrying case packed in the trunk of a claims adjuster’s car.

Once on site, claims adjusters unpack the fully assembled drones and launch them from their iPads. Each drone has to remain in the line of sight of a claims adjuster while abiding FAA rules.

About five minutes later, the data collected by the drone is scanned and ready to be processed by the insurance company. Kespry is equipping nearly 10 insurance companies with drones in the areas ravaged by Harvey to help gather information to process claims.

Farmers Insurance said a drone could help a claims adjuster process three houses in an hour. Without a drone, only about three houses could be processed in a day.


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Category: General Update, News

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