Tuesday, September 5, 2017

After Harvey, insurance drones take to Texas skies: Companies are using the drones on a much larger scale to spare human adjusters from unsafe conditions

Laura Shell, center, a Travelers catastrophe claims specialist from Lexington, Va., trains to become a certified drone operator at the insurance company’s Windsor, Connecticut, training center. 



WINDSOR, Conn. — Insurance adjusters are bringing more drones with them than ever before as they head to Texas to assess the damage from Harvey.

Companies are using the drones on a much larger scale to record images, save time and spare human adjusters from venturing into potentially unsafe areas. Insurers have increased their fleets since the Federal Aviation Administration eased some restrictions a year ago, and tried them out in areas of the southeastern U.S. hit by Hurricane Matthew last October.

Travelers Insurance, based in Hartford, had 65 certified drone pilots as of Friday among the 600 employees deployed to the Houston area. Claims specialist Laura Shell, who will be in Texas this week, spent last week at the company’s training center in Windsor, Conn., learning how to pilot drones.

“This is great,” said Shell, 55, of Lexington, Va., whose job typically involves climbing a lot of ladders. “It’s going to allow me to get a look into areas that aren’t easily accessible and onto roofs and do it quickly.”

The drones will dramatically cut the time it takes to assess damage, according to Jim Wucherpfennig, vice president of claims for Travelers. The company has trained 300 employees as certified drone operators and expects to have about 600 by early 2018, he said.

Instead of making two or three trips to a house, often with an outside contractor trained in setting up scaffolds and ladders, the adjusters will now be able to do detailed exterior inspections in one trip. The drone’s camera is linked to an application on the employee’s phone, allowing them to take measurements and shoot high-definition photos and videos, often while the customer looks on.

The drones do have limitations. They cannot fly in heavy wind or rain, and they cannot go inside homes to inspect damage.

That’s one reason State Farm has decided, for now, not to use its drone fleet in Houston, spokesman Chris Pilcic said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.union-bulletin.com

No comments: