Property insurers are preparing to fly dozens of drones over homes and businesses to assess damage in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey, the first widespread use of unmanned aircraft to size up catastrophe claims. Insurers have been testing drones and using them on a small scale since getting Federal Aviation Administration approval in 2015 to use the technology for U.S. inspections. Drones provide aerial images that can help insurance adjusters inspect buildings faster and more safely, executives say, part of a larger industry effort to speed up time-consuming claims. The storm presents the first opportunity for some of these insurers to test their new fleets on a large scale. Harvey, which made landfall in Texas last week and moved to Louisiana on Wednesday, is estimated to have caused up to $20 billion in insurable damage.
I was told Fred was the man to talk to about inspecting buildings. But I don't know that he's ever used email," my reference said, advising that I call his phone. Surprisingly though, Fred has a website. The sole image on the site shows him standing on a roof in a ten-gallon hat staring jauntily down at the steep angle. When I called Fred to ask about his experiences inspecting buildings, three things became immediately apparent.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently created the Innovation and Technology Task Force to "explore the technological developments in the insurance sector." It cited the rise of artificial intelligence as one of the key issues that the task force would address, citing the technology's "potential to transform the insurance industry in a number of ways." The message is being received loud and clear: adapt or be left behind. The insurance industry has historically been a laggard compared to other industries when it comes adoption of new technologies. However, the industry should be credited for embracing recent advances in technology, most notably the use of computer vision (a form of AI) and drones, to automate or assist with what would have previously been arduous and/or dangerous tasks.
Over the past decade technology has become increasingly interwoven into our daily lives and work. Back in 2010, tablets, battery-powered cars, augmented reality, smartwatches, consumer drones and smart speakers were hard to imagine. To say technology has transformed throughout the decade is an understatement. The same could be said of how technology has impacted the insurance industry in the 2010s. It has has enhanced how damage is assessed and claims are adjusted.