IAG mobilised drones to inspect properties devastated by Christmas Day fires in Victoria’s Great Ocean Road area before physical access was granted by authorities.
In a first for the insurer, aerial imagery shot by drones allowed assessors and customers to review damage to hundreds of homes in Wye River and Separation Creek from a safe location. This enabled the insurer to start processing customer claims immediately.
Using drones removed the risks associated with physical sites such as contact with dangerous asbestos material, fallen power lines and land slips, the insurer said.
IAG used two drones during the exercise: The DJI Inspire 1 Pro with ZENMUSE X5 and X5R and 4K camera with twin remote control was operated by one drone operator and one camera operator, with two live relay monitors. The DJI Phantom 3 Professional was used as a back-up support model.
Claims for CGU Insurance, WFI and Coles Insurance were assessed using the drones and coordinated through IAG’s property repair partner.
IAG also worked with the Country Fire Authority to ensure the use of drones would not impact firefighting efforts.
"Safety has been paramount throughout the inspection process," an IAG spokesperson said. "Live relay monitors were used to communicate visuals back to two different viewing screens, allowing our experienced operators to keep a close eye over activity at all times."
The IAG spokesperson said the company worked with its partner to ensure it only captured images of its customers' properties, to meet privacy guidelines and alleviate concerns about the use of drones.
"Customers were offered the opportunity to have their property assessed via drone technology and gave full consent to assess this way. We value the privacy of all customer information, and have a strict group policy in place to ensure personal information collected is kept safe and secure," the spokesperson said.
IAG’s COO, Andy Cornish said in a statement that the insurer had received positive feedback from customers who benefitted from the technology.
“We are already working with our property repair partner to develop how we can use this technology to help more customers in the future,” he said.
The Great Ocean Road was reopened last week after authorities confirmed the bushfire no longer posed a threat to communities.
IAG added that drone technology also has potential in other areas of the business, which handle claims resulting from other natural perils such as storms and floods.
The spokesperson said that internationally, there have been a small but growing number of insurers using drones and numbers were expected to continue to rise both in Australia and overseas as more insurers see the benefit this technology offers customers.
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