Longer, more intense, and more frequent CAT seasons have been a feature of North American weather patterns in the recent past and are likely to continue in future. For many insurers, the use of drones has become a valuable addition to their inspection and assessment processes.

Here’s a quick overview of why drone inspections make sense after CAT events:

Improved Safety
Drones can be deployed to assess damaged properties in hazardous or hard-to-reach areas without putting field personnel at risk. This significantly enhances safety during post-storm inspections.

Drones can cover large areas quickly, allowing for a more efficient assessment of the extent of damage. This speed is crucial for timely claims processing, especially after a major storm event. Fixed-wing drones can scan hundreds of acres a day with extremely high resolution cameras and provide vital triage data that allows for rapid decision-making in the critical hours following a major weather event.

High-Quality Imagery
Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras provide detailed imagery and videos of damaged properties. This aids in accurate damage assessment and documentation.

Access to Inaccessible Areas
Drones can access rooftops, upper floors, rural area and other areas that may be difficult to reach manually. This comprehensive view helps in identifying damages quickly.

Cost Savings
While there are initial setup costs incurred in setting up an in-house drone department, drones can reduce expenses in the long run by reducing the need for on-site personnel, equipment, and travel expenses.

Of course, most solutions also have drawbacks and challenges. Here are a few that apply if an insurer wants to set up an in-house drone team:

Regulatory Compliance
Operating drones for commercial purposes is subject to strict regulations in Canada. Compliance with Transport Canada’s rules and obtaining necessary certification are essential but can be time-consuming.

Equipment and Training Costs
Initial investments in drones, cameras, software, and training personnel can be significant. Maintenance and repair costs should also be considered.

Data Management
Handling large volumes of imagery and data collected by drones requires efficient data management systems and personnel with the necessary expertise.

Privacy Concerns
Drone use may raise privacy concerns among property owners. Ensuring compliance with privacy laws and obtaining consent for inspections is essential.

Operational Costs
Regular maintenance, software updates, and insurance for drones should be budgeted for ongoing operations.

Opportunity Costs
Sending out adjusters for building inspections after a CAT may not be the best use of their time during peak demand. A drone operator will normally generate enough inspection data per day to fully occupy several desk adjusters.

Return on Investment (ROI)
Evaluating the potential ROI through increased inspection efficiency, reduced field personnel deployment, and quicker claims processing can be tricky when dealing with uncertain weather-related events.

Overall, integrating drones into an inhouse CAT damage inspection processes can enhance safety, efficiency, and accuracy. However, it’s important to consider the regulatory landscape, equipment and operational costs, and data management when implementing this technology.

This raises the obvious question: Is it better to use an external done service vendor compared to having an in-house drone team? Let’s go over the operational, financial, and legal aspects of an external solution.

Operational Benefits
Expertise and Experience
External drone service providers specialize in aerial inspections and have experienced pilots and technicians who are well-versed in conducting effective assessments. They bring a high level of expertise to the table.

Rapid Deployment
External vendors can often deploy drones quickly after a storm event, minimizing delays in property assessments. This agility is crucial for timely claims processing.

Service providers have the capacity to scale their operations according to your needs, whether it’s handling multiple simultaneous inspections or covering large geographic areas.

Current Technology
Drone service providers typically have access to the latest drone models, cameras, and data analysis software, ensuring that you benefit from cutting-edge technology. Modern drone sensors provide richly-detailed photos with three to four times the resolution of satellite imagery. These outputs can be coupled with software programs that offer accurate measurements, 3D modelling, orthomosaics, and thermal data. As with all leading technology, improved outputs and expanded use cases are happening continuously.

Financial Benefits
Cost Savings
While there are fees associated with hiring external vendors, they can lead to cost savings compared to establishing and maintaining an in-house drone team. You avoid initial capital expenses, ongoing operational costs, and the need for full-time personnel. You also get to use your trained, experienced adjusters for what they do best: establishing coverage, taking care of customers, and managing costs.

Predictable Costs
External providers usually offer pricing structures that provide predictability, making it easier to budget for drone services. In many cases, the direct fee cost of a drone service provider will be lower than your fully loaded cost of deploying an adjuster.

No Equipment Ownership
You don’t have to invest in purchasing and maintaining drones, which can be a significant upfront cost and involve ongoing expenses.

Legal Benefits
Regulatory Compliance
Reputable drone service providers are well-versed in the regulatory requirements and certification needed for commercial drone operations. They ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, reducing legal risks.

Insurance Coverage
External providers carry liability insurance, which can provide an additional layer of protection in case of accidents or damage during drone operations.

Privacy and Consent
Experienced providers are skilled in obtaining property owner consent for inspections, handling privacy concerns, and ensuring compliance with privacy laws, reducing legal liabilities related to privacy issues.

Contractual Agreements
You can establish clear contractual agreements with service providers that outline responsibilities and liabilities, reducing potential legal disputes.

In summary, using an external drone service vendor offers operational agility, access to expertise and advanced technology, and potential cost savings. It also minimizes legal risks by ensuring compliance with regulations and privacy laws.

Now in their 6th year, DSC Inc have the experience, geographical reach, and service standards that will significantly expand your CAT capabilities. Call us and find out how we can make your CAT response soar.