After the FAA approved drones for commercial use in 2016, insurance companies like Farmers, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, and more have started using/testing drones to speed up inspection times and reduce the risk of sending an employee into a potentially dangerous situation. If your community ever has a claim, there is a good chance your insurance company will inspect the damage using a drone.
Let’s start by going over the pros and cons of drones so you’ll know what questions to ask if your agent sends one out for any reason:
- Pros – Inspections are quicker which means repairs can happen sooner, and it is safer for the insurance company employees. The drones may also allow inspectors to find problems that wouldn’t have been visible if not for the aerial views.
- Cons – Subtle damage is difficult to detect and drones are prohibited near airports and military bases. So depending on where your community is located, drones may not even be an option.
Next, it’s important that your board knows the community’s rights when drones are involved. Often there are privacy concerns when it comes to drones, especially when they are used in residential areas.
If your association insurance company is inspecting the use of drones, keep these things in mind:
- By law the insurer must get the customer’s permission to fly drones on their property.
- No matter what is being inspected, make sure your board notifies homeowners – even if you’re just having the clubhouse inspected. Residential areas are generally high density and even the thought of a drone buzzing around someone’s home or yard can be upsetting if people don’t understand what is going on.
- If your board isn’t convinced the drone can/or did capture the true extent of damage, your board can still request a traditional inspection.
- Ask homeowners to notify the HOA if they have a personal insurance claim that will involve a drone inspection. This way if you get complaints you can reassure other homeowners that the drone was being used for insurance inspection only!
With improving technology and approved commercial use, drones are here to stay and your HOA can expect to use them or see them used in the community at some point. Take time to talk with homeowners, set expectations about how and when they can be used, and work with your insurance carrier to make sure drones are used in a positive and beneficial manner.