Liberty Mutual Insurance will join other major insurance agencies in the use of drones to help photograph businesses and houses damaged by natural disasters or fires. The drones will be used instead of manned planes or adjusters for some claims, illustrating how the industry is maturing and maybe even replacing human jobs in some cases.
Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration granted the insurance giant the rights to use four drones of differing sizes. The relatively small drones weigh no more than 55 pounds and cannot fly over 400 feet off the ground or travel more than 100 miles per hour, per FAA restrictions.
Spokesman Glenn Greenberg says Liberty Mutual will implement use of the drones later this year but on a limited basis. To help adjusters assess a large site of damage in a short amount of time, the drones will initially be inspecting sites damaged by large-scale natural disasters.
As there are many risks involved with inspecting damage sites such as piloting a plane or falling off of ladders, claims adjustors will be spared potential risk with the use of the drones. Greenberg states, “It’s very easy for us to get excited by a technology that helps our claims professionals more safely help our customers after a loss.” The drones will also provide higher quality photography for the insurers.
Liberty Mutual insurance is joining other companies such as AIG and State Farm who have also received FAA approval for drone use.
The FAA requires drones to be operated by a licensed pilot with a visual observer who visually monitors the flight. Liberty Mutual requested for permission to use drones without these positions, but the FAA denied the request. The insurance company will need both a pilot and a visual observer if they wish to use drones.
Liberty Mutual hasn’t released any information on how much it’s spending on drones, how many drones they will purchase, or from what companies they will buy the drones but China’s DJI could well be in the lead, marking a major corporate win for the company on American soil.