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Insurers Using Drones to Assess Damage


The Yomiuri Shimbun

The nonlife insurance industry in Japan is increasingly using small unmanned drones to assess damage suffered in disasters in an effort to enable speedier postdisaster payouts.

Major nonlife insurance company Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc. conducted drone assessments after heavy rain hit the northern part of Kyushu in July and handed out insurance payouts of about ¥100 million in total. The insurance company’s loss adjusters completed the assessments in just two days after arriving there, when it has often taken them about two weeks for previous disasters, according to the company.

Sompo Japan Nipponkoa is the first major Japanese nonlife insurance company to have made payouts for natural disasters based on drone assessments. Similar efforts under way in the industry are expected to help rebuild disaster-hit areas as quickly as possible.

Appraisals of damage caused by disasters, including earthquakes and heavy rains, on properties such as houses are typically carried out by loss adjusters of nonlife insurance companies who visit disaster-hit areas.

But the challenge for the industry was to address the delay in payouts compared to cases including small-scale fires and traffic accidents because adjusters were unable to visit disaster sites due to concerns over secondary disasters or trouble in conducting assessments, even if they visited sites.

The revised Civil Aeronautics Law, which came into force in 2015, prohibits drones from flying over densely populated districts.

However, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa received a permit from the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in June 2016 to fly drones over densely populated districts across the country during disasters and the like, enabling the insurance company to start operating a five-person drone unit in April this year.

After the heavy rain in northern Kyushu on July 5, the company flew three camera-equipped drones on July 12 and 13 in the heavily damaged city of Asakura in Fukuoka Prefecture and conducted an assessment from the sky of about 1,800 hectares in no-entry zones, according to the company.

Based on the video images, loss adjusters ascertained damage for … (read more)

via The Japan News

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