ERIE, Pa. (Oct. 1, 2015) — In what could be the first step toward changing how insurance claims are handled in the future, Erie Insurance has moved from testing to actually using a drone to assist with a property damage claim. ERIE was among the first insurance companies to seek and receive permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones commercially. It is not aware of any other insurance company that has used a drone in an actual claim.
The drone was used to inspect the roof of a customer's home after it had been repaired following ice dam damage last winter. ERIE then used the drone for a second, unrelated claim that involved a tree falling on a neighboring house. ERIE used the drone to capture detailed aerial images of the roof damage and compare it to the adjuster's original photos after the tree had been removed.
"We see drones as a happy marriage between technology and the human touch," said
, vice president of property and subrogation claims, Erie Insurance. "We can use drones to do what drones do best—getting clear and detailed images of property damage in difficult to access areas—and that, in turn, enables our claims people to do what they do best—taking great care of our customers with personal service, and helping them get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible."
Sullivan cites several ways in which drones will improve the claims process for both customers and claims adjusters. Drones can help adjusters get an early look at potential damage without putting themselves in harm's way due to unsafe conditions, such as on a steep roof or at the site of a fire. And, drones may be able to get images of widespread damage sooner than a person could due to limited access, such as after a tornado or other natural disaster.
Inspections were done pursuant to the exemption and in compliance with all conditions of the FAA exemptions.