Insurance Companies Using Drones To Inspect Homes

During the Great Depression of 1931, American historian and writer James Turslow Adams popularized the idea of The American Dream. Adams described this dream as “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. […] It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” Originally, this dream emphasized the ideals of liberty and democracy, echoing the statements found in the Declaration of Independence. Over the decades, The American Dream has grown to symbolize the accumulation of wealth and property along with social and professional upward movement.

Today, as has been since the end of the Great Depression, owning a home has become one of the tenets of The American Dream. Though the housing market is constantly changing, there are several factors necessary for all homeowners to meet. Before purchasing a home, buyers need to meet a certain credit score, have a steady income along with appropriate savings, a modest debt-to-income ratio, documentation of all the before mentioned, and preapproval for a mortgage. Once all of this is in place and a buyer has purchased a home, there is one last thing that most will take into consideration.

Though not a legal requirement, many mortgage companies will require homeowner’s insurance before proceeding with a sale. Even if your home is paid off, it is important to have homeowner’s insurance to cover you in the event of unforeseen issues occurring on the property. However, insurance companies don’t just hand out policies, it’s all about calculating risks. Recently, insurance companies have begun using drone technology to help them calculate these risks.

Insuretech companies, companies that specialize in utilizing technology to streamline insurance practices, have found that drones can provide them with the necessary data to determine a property’s risk factor. In the past, an insurance inspector would have to come out to a home to manually assess risks. Technically, a homeowner doesn’t need to let them in, but then they risk being denied coverage. When these inspectors come in, they thoroughly check the property for anything that would deem the property uninsurable or in need of higher premiums.

Things like swimming pools, unkempt fences, trampolines, stairwells without finished railings, exposed wires, or even certain dog breeds can cause an insurance company to drop your policy or increase your rates. So it’s understandable why many avoid welcoming inspectors into their homes. With drones operated via an insuretech company, inspectors can get pertinent information without stepping onto a property.

These drones can be used to inspect roofs, septic fields, overgrown vegetation, and outdoor amenities. The drones save inspectors time, money, and the possibility of aggravating homeowners. Mark Friedlander, Director of Corporate Communications for the Insurance Information Institute, explains that using drones has greatly advanced how inspections are done. “It is a much more precise, accurate way to assess the condition of homes,” Friedlander said. “Insurers have a right to inspect your home and we feel it’s much less intrusive [to use] a drone to take aerial imagery versus sending somebody out.”

In most locations, an insuretech drone operator has to notify a homeowner within 48 hours of the inspection. The homeowner does not need to be home, and the inspector does not need to enter the property. Though it is not required for the insurance company to provide the homeowner with the data collected by the drone, many will upon request. The data is then analyzed with software to create a risk assessment for underwriters. Oftentimes, the images collected can be shared with homeowners if there is a need for corrections such as the removal of trees, the extension of fencing, roof repairs, or septic issues.

When Adams first spoke of The American Dream, chances are it didn’t involve drone technology. But for today’s ever progressing American Dream, it only makes sense that drone technology becomes a part of that equation. Friedlander went on to say that the point of using drones for inspections “is to assess risk and make sure that the home meets the underwriting guidelines of your insurance company. They want to write the best risk.”

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