Drones Are More Helpful than Ever in Hurricane-Ravaged Texas and Florida

Thom Patterson | CNN | September 25, 2017

The view from the ground after a devastating hurricane is heartbreaking. The view from the sky is more revealing.

Unmanned aircraft — small and large — swooped in during the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey to get a glimpse of the devastation. That's why insurance companies have been using drone technology more than ever before to quickly -- and safely -- assess damage from the storm. It's only been fairly recently that commercial drone technology has advanced enough to take on this task on a large economic scale. And the insurance industry is just beginning to fully embrace it.

"I think we can say there's an unprecedented number of insurance companies using an unprecedented number of drones to service more and more policyholders," said Tom Karol, general counsel for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
It's difficult to know exactly how many are hovering over storm torn areas because no agency tracks drone flights.

Most of the drones in the sky are light-weight, quad-copter drones outfitted with cameras that can send images back to insurance professionals -- some in real time. For major U.S. insurers, the technology is a game-changer. Allstate said it launched permanent drone damage inspection programs last spring in four states: Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado...