We will send the drone right over to take a look.


That’s right, this week State Farm was the first to get approval to use drones to inspect property damage.

NBC News reported:

The Bloomington-based company is the first insurer in the U.S. to receive FAA permission to test unmanned aircraft systems for commercial use. State Farm said it plans to use the aircraft to “assess potential roof damage during the claims and respond to natural disasters.

I can see many interesting issues with having a drone evaluate a property. From a catastrophe standpoint, when a declaration of emergency does not allow vehicles into an area, State Farm’s drones may assess the extent dmage to the community. This could aid the company in ensuring it deploys enough properly licensed adjusters to this distressed area for future help to the policyholders. But drones really can’t replace a licensed adjuster scoping a loss, right? How will the drone data be evaluated by State Farm? Drones can easily scale a high pitch roof or fly all around multistory building, but what the drone sees must still be analyzed and verified for accuracy. A lot of roofs look the same from above.

The drones will also require pilots and are only going to be tested by State Farm for now, but if you are a blog reader in the Illinois area. Keep your eye out.

A spokeswoman for State Farm said the time frame is “fluid” but the company plans to begin testing after they pick which systems they will test and find pilots to man the devices.

Will this advancement be the end of the in person meetings on property damage claims? I sure hope not.

  • This is going to be very interesting, especially when there is not a complete roof blow-off. How will they accurately address roof shingles, tiles, etc. that have been “uplifted” and set back down. So many other issues to address but there may be some positives in this too by way of setting reserves, advance payments, etc, etc.

    I know this will be a great class at next years Windstorm Conference!

  • Steven Thomas

    I agree Rick, the initial view will be very helpful! Who interprets what they see is the critical element! If it’s the regular folks who’ve never seen a roof they didnt like, then the results won’t be any different than years past. I use drones already, however feeling and touching is still required on ALL roof evaluations. I think it’s a useful tool, however it should never be the sole basis for denying or paying a claim, unless of course if the roof is no longer there!

  • Roger Poe

    One really cool thing about maturing “drone” technology is that when they are equipped with an Infrared camera, (that is properly utilized), they will naturally discover water trapped under various roofing systems, and exterior wall cladding, that the human eye does not detect..

    ..And all that that means, as water and oxygen molecules, (and UV’s), do by their very nature what they are designed to do..which is to break down and recycle stuff.

    Two thumbs up to State Farm for taking the lead in accounting for all actual visible and invisible event damage! Hopefully, other insurers will follow their lead.

  • Brian Haden

    Personally, I am looking forward to the first fight about what is considered hail damage to a roof, which was inspected by a drone.

  • Dennis McLamb

    Can not fly a drone inside! Besides, when their onsite inspectors can not or will not look for all damages through out, there will always be a need for our industry. Lots of questions here. lol