Insurance companies now hovering over homes with drones

Insurance claims are now being processed at a much faster pace. However, it’s not due to more employees, but new, automated technologies that are replacing jobs: drones, photo-taking apps and artificial-intelligence claims bots. (See video at bottom)

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that around 40 percent of auto insurers no longer use physical employees to inspect and appraise damages. The claims adjusters have been replaced with photo up-loading apps, and drones are often sent to snap photos of property damage.

What used to take 10 to 15 days, in the processing of a claim, is now handled within two or three days. In the past, when a customer needed to call in to report a loss, the processing potentially took days or weeks for a claims inspector to be sent and a check to be processed.

A recent LexisNexis Risk Solutions survey revealed that approximately four out of ten car insurance companies are using the automated technologies instead of paying a live person to do the job.

The new process has increased customer satisfaction, which, in turn, has increased the likelihood that customers will continue to renew their policies with the same company.

Automation is also saving the insurance company money; around 11 cents of every premium dollar on personal home and auto policies is paid out just for investigating and settling claims, the WSJ report states.

However, automation isn’t the overall answer, according to some auto repair shops who are finding that the photos often miss documenting the full extent of the damage, which actually slows down the claims process in the long run.

Bill Brower, vice president of claims at RELX Group’s LexisNexis Risk Solutions, maintained that the entire claims process could soon be done with absolutely no human input, all the way from reporting the damage to estimating repair costs and processing payments.

An Allstate Insurance Company official said its customers are being directed to send photos of car damage through their app instead of using drive-in inspection centers, which has reduced the time in which a customer receives an estimate from several days to about 13 hours.

Liberty Mutual reported its adjusters are using drones daily to obtain pictures of home damages, reducing the photography process from hours down to minutes.

Drones come in a wide variety of sizes, with the large drone mostly used for military purposes such as the Predator drone, other smaller drones which can be launched by hand, to other unmanned aircraft which require short runways. An unmanned aerial vehicle system has two parts, the drone itself and the control system.

Over the past year, people have registered over 670,000 drones with the federal government, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The number reflects the rapid adoption of drones by hobbyists and a parallel effort by regulators to get them to register those aircraft. The goal is to use the registry as a way to pinpoint bad actors who fly drones in restricted areas like airports and over sports events.

Drones were used to document the extensive damage from a tornado that hit New Orleans in February:

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