Drones and the insurance market

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The insurance market is an area whose main characteristics must be stability, reliability and predictability. That is why it is not easy to separate wheat from tares, that is, to decide what of the many new technological options can be involved – and what is worth involving – in supporting the activity. Drone technology can still prove this. With regard to the globally operating insurance company Crawford, the news is that the company is making very significant savings thanks to drone surveys.

Drone insurance damage assessment

The company initially included drones in the damage assessment in the event of flood damage and major property damage due to the favorable ability that these devices provide essentially fast and safe access in hard-to-reach areas. Then they thought one thing and looked further away: drones were also used in the adjudication of agricultural claims. They started the experiment with an average case: a rapeseed plant was hit by hail before harvest, causing significant crop losses for the farmer in the area. According to the traditional approach, experts then pull rubber boots, measure and traverse the affected area in a W-shape to assess the extent of the damage, comparing the result with the combine data if possible. However, a few years ago, the insurer began examining the possibility of making this process more precise by supporting the damage assessment with drone control.

The experiment began in the UK when multispectral cameras capable of detecting the different light color spectra reflected by chlorophyll in vegetation vegetation became more widely available. Because healthy plants emit a different frequency of light than injured or unhealthy individuals, the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) index makes it easy to analyze the health status of a plantation. Drone flight was expected to provide more accurate and faster data from the damaged crop than estimated human calculations, but the technique showed not only this, but also the general health of the plantation and the expected yield. By comparing the expected and the achieved return, the value of the real loss was actually available on a data basis.

The detailed agricultural data obtained in this way represent a huge step forward in the damage assessment, as Crawford estimates that in return for some £ 2,000, the insurer was able to save £ 200,000 (equivalent to more than £ 80 million); this reduced the amount of damages claimed at the beginning of the proceedings. Of course, all of this is not easy to understand with policyholders, yet the experience is that data from drone surveys is hard to argue with, and in fact no one is wrong, as the lost crop is reimbursed by the insurer fairly and quickly under the existing contract. The procedure has thus proved successful, as a result of which the company is trying to explore other uses for drone.

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