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Paul Zimmerman

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Insurance Adjusters Seek Approval for Use of Drones

With such a long line of people metaphorically standing outside the doors of the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), you would think it was opening night at Los Angeles’ newest nightclub. Instead, it is representatives from different industries trying to get the FAA’s approval for the use of drones in their respective fields. One of the most recent activists seeking authorization of drone use is the insurance company, United Services Automobile Association (“USAA”).

Insurance companies have several incentives for wanting to use drones in assessing claims.  After a natural disaster, accessing neighborhoods to evaluate the level of damage can be difficult, often impossible. More importantly, however, it can be extremely dangerous for workers doing the assessments. Using drones would enable insurance companies to enter these disaster sites quickly, speeding up claim response time—the result could save time, money and even lives.

So why is the FAA drawing out the process in deciding whether insurance companies can use drones? The FAA is not set to make a decision on the 60+ petitions it has received for commercial drone use for another month or so, but they must find ways to address the safety and privacy concerns regarding widespread use of drones. On September 25, 2014, the FAA granted six aerial video and photo production companies the right to use drones on certain film and television sets, a huge milestone in broadening the commercial use of drones.

If insurance companies want their industry to be one of the next areas approved for drone use, they should continue to petition the FAA. Developing safety manuals and standard operating procedures with other interested parties can help facilitate approval of the petition(s). 

This article is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.