Emerging Inspection Technology – Smartphones and Drones

Emerging Inspection Technology - Smartphones and Drones

With the aid of today’s improving insurance inspection technology, the way insurance field inspections are being conducted is making life better for both insurance clients and carriers alike. Where once viewed as bothersome and consuming of both excess time and resources, new methods for the accomplishment of property field inspections have allowed them to become quicker, more affordable, and more comprehensive due to advancing inspection technology. Much of this improved inspection technology can be attributed to the advent of smartphones and things that can be done with this small, hand-held device. We’ll explore those things here.

The Advantages of Smartphones on Inspections

Smartphones enable users to perform a variety of important operations right from their phones that, just a short time ago, could only be done on a personal computer. These all-in-one hand-held devices allow property inspectors to become completely mobile, adding both speed and ease to their field inspections. With so many phone apps for property inspections now available, your inspectors are able to go through all the needed inspection processes while still in the field, up to and including even submitting their reports to you as the underwriter.

A well-crafted property insurance inspection app for smartphones is one of the most productive items of inspection technology your inspectors can have in their toolbox. A good app will guide them through a step-by-step process for collecting data, including photos and videos, allowing them to gather measurements and produce written descriptions of their findings. All of this collected data can then be submitted in the form of a complete report right from the field. This is a huge improvement over the old paper and pencil data collection method, only to have to spend further time translating this information into their computer back at the office. Even without the added app, smartphones make home insurance inspections faster, easier, and more affordable than ever before.

Client and Carrier Satisfaction Are Both Increased

With inspectors having the capability of collecting both data and visual information and then electronically submitting reports on the spot, insurance company underwriters are able to receive information much more quickly than in the past. This saves time, effort, and resources, providing a higher level of satisfaction to carriers and clients. Having a well-defined process to follow and available right in the palm of the inspector’s hand is a huge advancement in inspection technology.

With streaming video, you as an underwriter can even “ride-along” on an inspection tour to get first-hand knowledge of a property without having to physically go there. In addition, a smartphone paired up with a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), or drone, can give you a perspective on a property not available any other way.

Highest Quality Photos and Videos

While the photos and videos delivered by today’s smartphones are of much better quality than those of just a few years ago, many inspectors and agents involved with real estate sales have still favored the use of high-quality conventional cameras for ultimate clarity and detail.

Another new inspection technology that’s been a game-changer is the introduction of professional-grade camera lenses that can be easily clipped right on to smartphones. Some of these lenses are made for use with specific smartphones and several are made by well-known camera companies. The quality of the videos and photos taken during a property inspection is only limited by the quality of the equipment being used. With all the options available for attachable lenses for smartphones, inspectors needn’t compromise the picture quality or detail.

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

UAVs, commonly known as drones, have come into their own as favored items of inspection technology in the past few years. One reason for this newfound popularity is the fact that these devices have become much more affordable to purchase and to operate. Previous FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations required two people for commercial UAV operation – one pilot and one spotter. This requirement for two people made drone use too expensive for many companies to conduct.

Newly enacted FAA regulations now allow for commercial-use drones such as those utilized for property insurance inspections to be operated by a single person, making the operations both easier and more affordable. This has allowed for drone use when coupled with a quality smartphone/camera for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Roof inspections – these can be conducted without the need to actually climb out onto the roof. This makes roof inspections easier and safer. There’s no need to go out onto a surface that may be steep or slippery.
  • Exterior property inspection – when this is required but the back yard is inaccessible because it’s fenced with a locked gate, a drone can be used to view important backyard features such as swimming pools, treehouses, and trampolines. These are important risk factors to note and this can be accomplished without the need to have someone at home to unlock the gate.
  • Exteriors of high-rise buildings – these can be extremely difficult and dangerous to do without the use of a drone. Certain areas may even be inaccessible any other way.
  • Property inspection with a large amount of property – this used to mean physically walking the entire area, boots on the ground. This takes unnecessary time and energy. With a drone, your inspector can get a bird’s-eye view of the area, including surrounding areas that could possibly pose additional risk factors that should be considered in a risk analysis.


True Benefits of Going Mobile

Property inspectors out in the field are an important part of your insurance business process. They’re the ones who have face-to-face interaction with your clients. Their effectiveness and efficiency have an impact on how your policyholders view your company and the level of service they provide will help with customer satisfaction and retention. Having a property inspection team that embraces innovations emerging in the area of inspection technology such as going mobile helps the underwriting process go quicker and more smoothly, both of which help your company and your clients.

Smartphones are, perhaps, the number one contributor to an ever-improving property inspection process. Being able to produce inspection reports on the spot eliminates the need to handle data twice as it’s been in the past, saving both time and money.

Insurance Risk Services (IRS) remains on the cutting edge of property inspection technology and has been lending its services to insurance company underwriters for more than four decades. We take pride in knowing that our efforts to test and implement emerging technologies help us provide the most complete and accurate underwriting reports in the industry. Contact Insurance Risk Services today at (800) 644-5112 to learn how we can also aid you in making more accurate and profitable underwriting decisions.