High-tech drones could be used to evaluate insurance claims

High-tech drone aircraft could be used to evaluate insurance claims in the near future, according to US insurer USAA.

The ability of these unmanned devices to provide aerial footage is offering potential advantages to various sectors. Drones were used by aid workers offering relief to people in mountainous regions of Nepal following the recent catastrophic earthquake.

While flying drones for commercial use is currently illegal in the United States, USAA has been granted an exemption to test and develop drones for the insurance market.

“We’re looking to utilise that imagery and data in our claims process after disasters; not only to be safer, so there aren’t so many feet on the ground after a disaster; but also more efficient for our membership,” said Kathleen Swain, USAA’s innovation advisor.

In an interview with VentureBeat, Lisa Ellman, co-chair of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Practice Group, and a former senior counsel in the US Justice Department, claimed the potential was there but privacy issues still needed to be addressed.

“What happens if I’m an insurance company, or any company, operating a drone and I pick up images with my camera, what are we doing with those images? How long do we hold onto it? What if we see something?”

She added: “As the technology improves, I think we will see the policymaking evolve in a way that is very exciting for the industry, including the insurance industry.”