That drone is from the insurance company

Instead of using a ladder to inspect parts of a home, insurance claims adjusters are instead turning to drones.

They’re easy to use and safer for insurance employees. And drone inspections take less time than a physical inspection, potentially shortening the entire claims process, according to consumer finance website NerdWallet.

However, drone inspections may not reveal subtle damage apparent from a physical inspection. Also, drones can’t fly near airports and military bases, they must stay within the operator’s sight, and permission must be obtained for any area they fly above.

Allstate, USAA, Farmers Insurance, and Travelers have used drones for inspections, and a number of other insurance companies are evaluating the use of drones or are planning to expand their use.


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7 Responses to That drone is from the insurance company

  1. synthetic1 says:

    Without droning on (lol), I think that it is a good idea for insurance adjusters to use drones for safety and to minimize damage caused by boots on the roof… but it could minimize the chances of catching damage. Always have your roofer walk the roof with a fine tooth comb to find all damage.

    The drone’s 2D video is no match for the quality of a 3D eyeball of the roof.

    Gotta fly.


  2. Marc Mulkey says:

    There are SO many false statements in this article. Where do I start.
    1. “Drones can’t fly near airports or military bases.” FALSE. There are guidelines that we have to follow and permissions in some instances that we have to get if we’re within 5 miles of an airport that has an Air Traffic Control tower on site. Otherwise we normally only have to call the airport and leave a message letting them know when and where we’re going to fly, at what max altitude and for how long.

    2. “They must stay within the operator’s sight”. Not totally false, but not well explained either. The FAA rules say that we are to keep the drone within our “visual line of sight” or VLOS. What they have interpreted that to mean is not that we have to watch it the entire time we’re flying…which partly has to do with us needing to look at our monitor to see where it is and to see what we’re looking at via the camera so we know what we’re taking photos or video of. Flying at a house doing roof inspections, it would always be within that VLOS.

    3. “Permission must be obtained for any area they fly above.” This is, at minimum, mostly false. In the state of Texas there are laws, dealing with “taking images” that state that as long as we are not “intentionally conducting surveillance” then we can fly over and take images all day long. As an example, if I’m flying around my house and out over a nearby lake, and I’m shooting video the entire time…I am not in violation of any Texas laws because I am not intentionally conducting surveillance. It is also important to note that there are no federal laws that address this situation either. Mostly because it is widely recognized throughout the country that there is no legal expectation of privacy outside one’s home. Your neighbor could be on his balcony taking photos of you and your kids swimming in the backyard pool, and there is nothing illegal about it. Creepy yes, illegal…no.

    Besides, if an insurance adjuster is on the property to document damage at the property owner’s request…they would already have permission to be on the property. Using a drone camera is no different than using a handheld camera to take photographs.

    Just for the record, I am an FAA licensed drone pilot/operator and I run my own drone business here in the state of Texas, so I am well aware of both federal and state laws that deal with the use of drones.


    • Michael Schrantz says:

      Thanks for the additional details, Mark. I hope when you take into account that the audience of this blog is Texas REALTORS® and not drone pilots, you’ll understand why we strive to avoid jargon and overcomplicated explanations. For example, this post is not intended to be a primer on drone law. It includes one sentence intended to quickly sum up some of the potential limitations of using drones to conduct insurance inspections.

      Michael Schrantz
      Social Media Editor
      Texas Association of REALTORS®


  3. Foy McMasters says:

    Bottom line- it makes it easier for the Insurance people to deny the claim. Pure & simple


  4. Mike McEwen says:

    I’m concerned about the inability of drones to do detailed a inspection. To me it is somewhat of a cop-out for the inspector to use a drone.


    • Marc Mulkey says:

      If someone is doing roof inspections using a drone, I would recommend that the drone operator have, at the very least, an infrared camera that can detect hot and cold areas of a roof, that would be signaling the escape of hot or cold air. As for a visual inspection, I could map the roofs, say in an apartment complex, or a single building and the inspector could zoom in on the combined photos enough to be able to spot just about anything.

      I agree that a hands on inspection is probably the best bet, but when you’re talking about roofs with a severe slope and/or a substantial height, it is safer to use a drone.


  5. Dan Foster says:

    Not surprised about them taking on drones into their workflow. We’re seeing a big spike in drones in the inspection industry as well. They’re good but often people question if the drone is a simple replacement for the effort it requires to get up on the roof. That said, they’re great in the winter when a roof generally goes uninspected, unless the inspector has a long scope. At the end of the day – they’re a huge plus on the safety side for our entire industry.

    Liked by 1 person

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