Blog: Drones prove their worth in Desmond floods

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In the wake of Storm Desmond, loss adjusters have been using drones to provide an aerial view of the flood-stricken areas. They've started only recently experimenting with the technology and, initially, there was a school of thought that it's a ‘nice to have' but not an essential tool in insurance claims management. Just how wrong can you be?

The drone footage that was taken across the North West gave a panoramic and highly detailed perspective of the flooded streets in Carlisle, in some cases long before anyone managed to gain access. We could identify the worst affected areas in advance of visits and reports by our adjusters, and even pick out individual properties, as customers were actually reporting their claims. Useful stuff, particularly when planning logistics and considering initial reserves.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of drone technology is on major losses. For example, inaccessible or unsafe areas of a fire-damaged building can be inspected, and the footage can be shared with the client, as well as surveyors and other building specialists, over the internet. Available on demand, 360-degree views of damaged properties have the potential to deliver substantial savings on professional time and travel costs, as well as providing a ‘live' file report on the claim, which would take hours to put into a document.

Beyond the client's claims team, underwriters are increasingly demanding immediate damage situation assessments, as they determine potential exposures - something which, again, drone technology is ideally placed to deliver.

There has been some controversy surrounding the use of drones for parcel deliveries and other activities, and that concept could lead to a completely different insurance debate. However, just as the use of tablet computers has provided an inspired and highly effective way of reporting on claims in the field, professionally piloted drones can definitely introduce measurable improvements in the claims management process - certainly on widespread events and major losses.

In an industry where the common mantra is for quicker, more cost-efficient, more informed and an altogether better experience for the customer, drone technology ticks all the boxes.

By Neil Gibson, loss adjusting services director at Cunningham Lindsey

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