The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) could significantly expedite the processing of insurance claims by removing the need for assessors to access and inspect physical sites in person.

Insurance Australia Group opted to use drone technology to inspect the damage caused by a spate of bush fires that took place along the Great Ocean Road area in Victoria during the summer as part of the assessment of claims for CGU Insurance, Coles Insurance and WFI.

The use of drone technology has the potential to significantly reduce the time and cost of the claims process by removing the need for assessors to obtain legal permission to access physical sites in person. In IAG’s case, it enabled them to commence the inspection of properties and the processing of claims immediately, prior to the authorities granting them direct access to the physical sites.

The technology will also make the inspection process far safer by enabling assessors to view sites from a remote location. This eliminates the need for them to brave on-site hazards such as land slips and damaged power lines.

“The impact caused by the Victorian bush fires was incredibly stressful for the homeowners affected and using drone technology as part of our assessment process allowed us to make the experience safer, simpler and faster for our customers,” said Andy Cornish, chief operating officer for IAG.

“We are proud to be the first insurer in Australia to use drones to assess damage following a major bushfire and have received extremely positive feedback from our customers who benefited from this technology.

“We are already working with our property repair partner to develop how we can use this technology to help more customers in future.”

The use of drones by IAG for assessment purposes follows the increasingly widespread adoption of UAV technology by the real estate and building industries for a variety of purposes, including the surveillance of construction sites and the marketing and sale of finished developments.