The Insurance Apprentice Network explores how the ever-growing drone industry will cross over into the world of insurance
In an industry full of analytics -- and a naturally risk-averse nature -- it is no wonder the insurance profession is so often on the back foot when it comes to technology or keeping up with current trends. A common thread is that a lack of knowledge surrounding evolutionary tech creates a real scepticism about its potential -- we can overestimate the dangers and underestimate the transformational benefits.
While many organisations are working to create their own innovation factories, hubs and teams across the globe, there is still a long way to go on the journey towards a tech-filled utopia.
So, when someone talks about drones, what comes to mind? Maybe a Christmas present that was flown twice and crashed into a tree? Or something hovering over your head at a firework display or festival? Perhaps you think more of the near misses with planes and bad press coverage surrounding military use. While drones are flying high, we are still seemingly lacking in confidence about this amazing piece of technology.
Professional drone expert and pilot, Jason Smith, from Cinecloud, tells us: "Whether you are flying for fun in your local park or for a commercial (paid) job, you should be abiding to the Drone Code set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which governs UK airspace.
"When using drones in the UK you are entering some of the busiest airspace in the world, hence so many reports on the news of near misses. To become a commercial drone pilot, you must get what is known as a Permission for Commercial Operations from the CAA. To obtain this you must first sit a ground-school theory test, write an operations manual detailing all your operating procedures, which is typically in the 15,000-word range, and complete a practical flight examination. After this, providing you have the correct insurance, you can start earning money from flying your drone.
"When looking for a drone operator to conduct work for you, checking that they hold a valid permission and up-to-date insurance should be the first things on your list; you can then be safe in the knowledge that the operator of the drone will be a professional who knows how to conduct a drone operation safely."
While drones are an exciting and growing part of our future, what can this mean in practise for the insurance profession? We are seeing an increasing amount of work around automating processes and jobs through other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) and drones are quickly becoming a part of this 'future-proofing'.
"Using Drone Safe Register in Insurance is like choosing a Chartered Loss Adjuster -- clients know they will get a pilot who is professional, with all the necessary permissions and insurance"
While other industries like agriculture and farming are using for these small flying devices to feed crops, our industry is capitalising on their application in areas such as surveying work.
Imagine the following -- rather than sending risk engineers, loss assessors and surveyors into dangerous, time-consuming or inconvenient environments, insurers can send out a small flying piece of technology that not only use its features to assess damage, distances and temperatures, but will also take full and comprehensive pictures of all locations to then feed back into a detailed risk report. All of this, and in a fraction of the time and cost it currently takes to send in human capital to perform the same tasks.
Jon Mainwaring, from Qlaims an industry distruptor, says: "Modern buildings have been designed so that [they are] easy to access, however on older buildings the only solution to inspect any part of the building is either a camera on a pole (usually limited in height) or scaffolding, which is costly in both time and resources. Drones now offer a cost-effective and safer solution.
A drone is quick to organise and, once onsite, can be deployed within minutes. We took a call recently on a Thursday at 4pm, put the job up on DroneSafeRegister, and at 10am the next morning there was a qualified drone operator onsite ready to conduct a survey."
Commenting on this, Mark Boyt, founder of Drone Safe Register recently seen on the BBC's Dragon's Den, explains:
"Using the Drone Safe Register in insurance is like choosing a Chartered loss adjuster -- clients know that they will get a pilot who is professional, with all the necessary permissions and insurance. It is crucial with new technology to have the support foundations in place to allow for best practice."
Drones are not only more efficient in delivery, they also work out to be a much more sustainable approach compared with how we are currently operating. In today's climate, where everything from our carbon footprint to educating the next generation is under scrutiny, each action we take to future-proof industries needs to reflect a wider responsibility to society. The use of drones does this in a few key ways:
- It allows for a platform of professional application when teaching students about technology and opens doors to new job roles in the future working markets
- It reduces our carbon footprint in multiple ways, from reduction in manufacturing requirements for current materials in use such as scaffolding, through to reduced time onsite and need to travel
- It saves time, which equals money, and money saved can then be invested into wider sustainability.
What is next then for this sector? Here are our three key takeaways on why drones are opening more doors and are an essential next step:
In July 2018 the UK drone rules changed to make it against the law to fly above 400ft (120m) and made it illegal to fly a drone within 1km of an airport
Technology may close doors to traditional labour market roles, but it also opens many doors to new opportunities and reforms the way we will work in the future world, as well as the here and now. Drones are going to support education of risk, as well as creating opportunities for new job roles in the sector.
We have seen the heightened demand for new tech-related products like cyber and commercial drone use will expand into a large market for consumption. As this piece of technology grows, so will the demand for cover.
In addition, having the new products in the drones themselves opens a range of opportunities to enhance the insurance products we can and will be able to offer our clients, which will lead to better risk analysis, understanding and therefore loss prevention.
From improved safety to being more cost-effective, drones and commercial pilots will continue to prove the 'why' of insurance to the market, by enhancing reliability and creating a trust surrounding the benefits of the industries products.Whether it be in light of a natural disaster, dangerous surroundings or just for timely efforts, the use of drones will revolutionise the way we operate and deliver to our customers and will positively impact our companies' and the industry's bottom line.
Samantha Eustace is chair of Asset -- The Insurance Apprentice Network and Jason Smith is director of Cinecloud