The company has been trialling drone use to survey insured buildings here, including Eden Park, (see video below) due to the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand guidelines for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) allowing them the opportunity sooner than the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the US.
With FAA approval being granted on Friday last week, AIG is the second insurer in the US to receive permission to test drones for commercial use after State Farm said it got permission last month.
However, AIG will be able to conduct inspections for risk assessment, risk management, loss control and surety performance for its US customers sooner thanks to the testing already carried out in New Zealand.
As well as loss control engineering, UAVs have the potential to accelerate, augment and assist in catastrophes and many claims scenarios, AIG NZ CEO Mike Raines told Insurance Business.
“We see applications for inspections/engineering, claims handling, and underwriting for a wide range of situations, for example wind farms, condemned buildings, catastrophe sites, even hail damage on roofs.
“It can augment our knowledge of properties and what we are insuring as we can get access to places that our examiners may not be able to.”
He added: “Following catastrophes, the ability to use UAVs may mean we do not have to wait until we have safe access for our claims examiners, or until a helicopter can survey property.
“Accelerating the speed and accuracy of the information we capture will lead to faster claims handling, risks assessment, and ultimately the payment of claims.”
Raines said while the cost of the equipment had been very high, the price of the technology was starting to drop significantly year on year which made it a more viable option to use.
Meanwhile they provided substantial safety advantages.
“Previously we either wouldn’t have had access to the information that UAVs can provide, or we would have had to wait, or in some cases collect it with hands-on methods, including ladders, safety lines and cherry pickers,” Raines said.
“UAVs can capture imagery quickly, safely and from multiple angles. They can be used to inspect areas that are inaccessible or dangerous for people.”
AIG could not say exactly when drones would be used for actual claims assessing in New Zealand, and while the company does boast a dedicated aviation underwriter in New Zealand now, underwriting of UAVs would have to be done in Australia.
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