REUTERS, STEVE MARCUS
There’s no question that drones will change the way people live and businesses work. These light flying devices have already been trialled for delivering vehicle parts to service centres and online shopping items to customers.

“Drones are shaping the way business is done across a variety of sectors,” says Vera Nagtegaal, the executive head of online comparison website Hippo.co.za. “The insurance industry is no exception, with some insurance companies having already started to use drones to assess damages and claims.”

Nagtegaal says insurers have been experimenting with drones for about five years.

Old Mutual iWYZE passed the operational audit and demonstration flights required by the South African Civil Aviation Authority and is in the process of obtaining its remotely piloted aircraft licence. Once complete, the drones will be used in the assessment of car accidents.

“Drones are also extremely helpful for property insurance assessments in hard-to-reach places like roofs, as well as large structures like warehouses, office buildings or commercial boilers, which can be several storeys high,” says Nagtegaal. “They can also assist with inspections of damage in the wake of disasters like earthquakes or flooding.”

She says that, previously, these types of inspections or assessments required scaffolding to be built, risky constructions to be scaled, or larger aircraft to be chartered.

Drones are cheaper to use, they can travel faster, and they are able to access unsafe areas, unlike insurance assessors, who, for instance, are unable to visit hazardous sites after a disaster has occurred.

“Drones cut costs and time spent on inspections, allowing insurers to utilise resources more effectively.

“This ultimately has a benefit to the consumer, with their claims being processed more efficiently,” says Nagtegaal.

Insurance fraud can also be limited if drones are employed effectively. Insurers will be able to capture aerial images of properties when policies are taken out, and these can be compared to drone camera images after any damage has occurred.

“The introduction of drones will serve to reduce false claims and expedite claims processes, which will contribute to the long-term efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the industry,” says Nagtegaal. 

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