Loss adjusters out: Drones in – Part 2
The use of drones prompts its own regulatory and legal challenges plus a myriad of complex liability and coverage issues related to insuring their use.
All kinds of new and serious problems arise over such things as airspace procedures, types of accidents and inadvertent eavesdropping or spying.
Brokers will have to enquire about data collection, storage and usage policies as well as a drone’s particular purpose and other physical specifications as it is information that must be presented to an underwriter.
So while this creates more work for brokers it also opens up a whole field of new insurance products to cater to it. How this develops is intrinsic to the speed of acceptance of UAS being used more commonly.
In a new Lloyds report Autonomous Vehicles, Handing over Control: Opportunities and Risk for Insurance published this week, the authors stress the important role of the insurance industry in guiding the successful development of UAS.
“In helping to enable the early stages of commercial operation of UAS, it is important that insurers are only insuring responsible operators,” the report says.
“By requiring proof from the insured of a safety and privacy conscious mind-set, insurers can help protect against cases of misuse, which at the formative stage of the market could set back UAS acceptance considerably.
“In a field which could be very dangerous without adequate risk management, the expertise of insurers could be important.”
Simon Baumfield, a photographer who uses multi-rotor drones for his company Sky-Hook.tv, believes drones will become irreplaceable for crime scenes and fires where the use of a helicopter would damage the scene with the wash from the blades.
While anyone can use a drone internally Baumfield supports moves by the Civil Aviation Authority in New Zealand to develop a regulation response for air space like they already have in Australia.
There operators are required to have a UAV controller’s certification and an operator’s certificate to fly, general aviation knowledge in line with a private pilot’s licence and specific UA skills.
While Baumfield can create 3D images using GPS using google maps to an accuracy of half a metre longitude and latitude he says he would still need a loss adjuster or police officer to advise what imagery was required and how it would be considered in relation to an insurance claim or crime scene.
FMG commercial manager Alan Giles said drones were great for protecting workers having to assess dangerous situations but stressed that the human factor was still essential.
He said in his comments to the LinkedIn poll: “As a company that works with and in the rural sector as well as commercially the majority of our assessing is completed in-house. We find this is received extremely well by our customers and is the main reason we only outsource a small proportion of claims assessment to the market. It is this personal contact, the human factor that is greatly received by people and is a dynamic that cannot be created by a machine.
“I can see the relevance of a drone for H&S reasons and this type of mechanised use can be utilised in conjunction with a real person without removing the human element while ensuring full and proper health & safety of some of our key people in the field.
“I cannot see real people being fully replaced by a drone in the insurance industry mainly for the fact that at claims time our clients want to deal with a flesh and blood person and not a machine.
“People deal with people in a manner that provides empathy, understanding and caring. These are values that should not be overlooked and will hold a business in good standing for many years with their clients.”
So while it appears that the human factor is not lost but merely required to adapt, it looks like UAS are here to stay.
Experts predict total spending for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) worldwide will reach US$89.1 billion over the next 10 years including strong military and commercial demand.