Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, said it will help research and develop uses for unmanned aerial vehicles to review damages after disasters.
Allstate joined a group that seeks to gain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones to collect images after catastrophes, the Northbrook, Illinois-based insurer said today in statement. Drones could more quickly inspect areas that are inaccessible by ground, speeding payments to customers, Allstate said.
“We still have a lot of work to do before introducing drones,” Shawn Broadfield, Allstate’s claims vice president, said in the statement. “The potential for their use could change the industry in a big way.”
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and United Services Automobile Association, the provider of coverage to military families, have filed to be exempt from FAA rules that restrict the use of drones for commercial purposes. The agency has granted fewer than 10 special exemption permits, none of which has gone to insurers.
Allstate said it joined the Property Drone Consortium. The group is led by EagleView Technologies Inc., a provider of aerial-imagery products.
The FAA granted six movie and television companies waivers in September to use drones for filming. Earlier approvals for commercial flights were for Alaskan oil operations. Dozens of companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s BNSF railroad have sought permission to use drones.
A proposed FAA rule allowing commercial flights by drones weighing less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) is scheduled to be announced by the end of the year.
–With assistance from Alan Levin in Washington.