Erie Insurance is joining the drone bandwagon with news that it has obtained conditional Federal Aviation Administration approval to use the technology in its claims and underwriting processes.

Erie’s embrace of commercial drones for the course of business follow’s AIG’s discloser earlier this month that it won FAA approval to operate commercial drones for claims handling, risk assessment, risk management, loss control and surety performance. USAA will also start testing drones as a tool to speed review of insurance claims after natural disasters. State Farm announced a similar FAA O.K. in March.

Garry Sullivan, vice president of property and subrogation claims at Erie, described the insurer’s approach to commercial drone use as “high tech meets human touch.”

“Drones will help our claims adjusters get an early look at potential damage without putting themselves in harm’s way due to safe conditions, such as on a steep roof or at the site of a fire or natural disaster,” Sullivan said in prepared remarks.

He added that “the sooner we can get in and assess damage, the sooner we can settle claims and help make our customers whole again so they can move on with their lives.”

The FAA is developing proposed commercial drone rules, but the agency loosened some requirements in March for obtaining government permission to fly commercial drones. With that regulatory opening, more insurers will likely pursue FAA waivers to start using commercial drones.

Source: Erie Insurance