Insurers increase their investments in drones and robots
Insurance companies are increasing their investments in robotic systems designed to help adjusters assess storm-damaged properties with greater safety and at a lower cost.
Travelers Cos., United Services Automobile Association and Farmers Insurance Group were among the leading property and casualty insurance companies to deploy aerial drones this summer to inspect property damage in the wake of Hurricane Ida.
And farmers said last month it would bring inspections back to ground level with plans to deploy a robotic dog to properties damaged by hurricanes, earthquakes and other catastrophic events.
International Data Corp. expects the insurance industry to spend around $ 602 million globally on robotic systems, including drones, in 2021, with spending reaching $ 1.7 billion in 2025.
“All of these technologies are aimed at increasing the capabilities of so-called knowledge workers,” said Patrick Van Brussel, research director at the technology research company.
Drones and robots make insurance more effective, efficient and secure, he said. Drones, for example, can quickly inspect a damaged roof and transmit images to a claims system without sending an adjuster to a building that could be compromised.
Insurers will continue to adopt drones, robots and other technologies as companies find new uses for them, Van Brussel said.
Travelers, which has a fleet of more than 700 drones, deployed some 200 drones last month to inspect guest properties in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana and then traveled north through United States. The company said it plans to increase the use of drones for claims inspection.
“The use of drones helps improve the safety of our field claims professionals and our field risk control professionals,” said Jim Wucherpfennig, vice president of property claims at Travelers. “Technology allows us to write damage estimates for our clients faster, pay them faster, so they can start repairs to their property and get back on their feet. “
Farmers said the drones also helped him assess damage to homes of customers affected by Hurricane Ida.
“We have learned over the 100 years that we have been in business that investing in technologies that help make the complaints handling process faster and more efficient leads to greater customer satisfaction,” said Samantha Santiago, Head of Claims Strategy and Automation at Farmers. .
The company’s latest investment is Spot, a 70-pound four-legged robot from Boston Dynamics Inc. that can be used to access unoccupied and structurally compromised homes and buildings to assess damage. Farmers will be the first insurer to deploy the mobile robot.
“Spot gives us the opportunity on the ground to see what awaits us. Things that can be difficult for an adjuster to see, ”said Santiago.
The Farmers robot is equipped with a pan-tilt-zoom camera that will allow 360-degree image capture and a thermal camera that will detect hot spots. The images captured by the robot will be transmitted to farmers’ complaints systems, where human experts and image analysis systems will help determine the extent of property damage.
Spot is expected to be rolled out later this year.
A Farmers Adjuster will be deployed with Spot and direct the robot’s movement.
While robots take on more of the tasks traditionally performed by people, neither technology analysts nor insurance experts see robots replacing experts anytime soon.
The future of work involves people and robots working side by side, often creating a division of labor that allows robots to do things repetitive, dangerous, or requiring analysis and humans using human judgment, creativity and skills. said JP Gownder, vice president and senior analyst at consulting firm Forrester Research Inc.
He also noted that today’s insurance robots and drones are almost entirely operated by humans.
“Robots are imperfect, they require a lot of monitoring, and they cannot provide humanistic customer service,” Gownder said.
Write to John McCormick at [email protected]
Copyright © 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8