BetterView, an insurance technology startup that captures and analyzes data from drones, announced early this month that it has performed more than 6,000 roof top inspections for insurers since its inception two years ago.
San Francisco, California based BetterView has software that streamlines the inspection process using a network of more than 4,000 drone operators.
David Tobias, co-founder and chief operating officer, says his own experience in the inspection industry convinced him there was a need for a better way of obtaining quality roof date.
“I remember going to job sites and seeing inspectors tying cameras to painters’ poles in order to document the condition of roofs. As digital technologies have transformed underwriting and claims operations over the last few years, insurers were still relegated to getting property and roof data through archaic inspection processes that involved drive-by inspections, climbing ladders and manually inspecting roofs, or renting expensive machinery like cherry pickers to assess churches and multi-level structures,” said Tobias.
Tobias says his network’s drone inspections capture an average of 350 roof and property images in approximately 20 minutes or less, as well as provide additional insights through advanced visualizations like 3D models and digital elevation maps. They can spot moisture trapped in roofs using thermal imagery, determine flood risk from property elevation, measure wildfire defensible space on 3D models, and derive building and property measurements from orthomosaic maps—all captured using a small lightweight drone.
BetterView offers reports for roof inspections, claims estimates, wildfire reports and site inspections to uncover hidden exposures related to parking lots, missing railings, fire pits, sidewalks, trampolines, and more.
According to David Lyman, co-founder and chief executive officer, while the insurance industry took a wait-and-see approach on drone technology at first, that changed in August, 2016 when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued new regulations (Rule 107) and drone manufacturers upgraded their hardware.
“While 2016 was a big year for testing drones, we have seen insurers allocate budget dollars in 2017 to move from concept to real production use, and in 2018 we expect to see a significant ramp up in the use of drones by insurers and reinsurers,” said Lyman.
BetterView was founded in 2014. In 2016, it raised $1.55 million in a funding round led by Arena Ventures, Metamorphic Ventures, and other angel investors. Additional investors include 500 Startups, Haystack, MetaProp NYC, and Router Ventures.
A number of insurers including Erie, AIG and USAA have been using drones for inspections and claims.
Other startups are also working to streamline inspections and claims using Uber-like digital platforms and contractor networks.
Los Angeles-based DropIn Inc. offers an on-demand streaming video service that allows adjusters to direct a contracted smartphone user to the exact area they’d like to cover – while the adjusters remaining in their office. It has plans to also offer drone service.
In January, global claims management firm Crawford & Co. completed the acquisition of a majority interest in WeGoLook, an online and mobile inspection firm that calls itself the “Uber of inspections.” Crawford paid $36.125 million for an 85 percent stake in WeGoLook, which is based in Oklahoma. WeGoLook provides on-demand field inspection and verification services using 30,000 mobile workers known as “lookers” to collect and verify information using their smartphone cameras.
Liberty Mutual and USAA are among the backers behind Snapsheet, a startup that is developing virtual auto claims technology and services that last fall closed on $20 million in new financing. The mobile technology allows insureds to send a photo of their car damage to Snapsheet’s appraisers, who work with insurers and body shops to settle claims.