Drones are the newest form of artificial intelligence (AI) to be employed by the insurance industry. This innovative use of technology can aid farmers, underwriters and adjusters in aerial crop survey analysis to assess risk on the front end as well as damage after a loss. Drone use is a more accurate, efficient and effective way to handle agricultural-based claims, and understand the risk parameters before a claim even happens.

Consider the following claims story:

After a farmer lost a significant amount of crop during a wet spring season, a claims adjuster walked the fields and estimated a 35% crop loss. The farmer was sure the loss was greater. He hired a drone company to assess his field, which revealed a 50% crop loss. This claim difference amounted to more than $100K.

Accuracy: A picture is worth a thousand words

Employing a drone can help underwriters more accurately capture and evaluate the extent of the farmer’s risk when writing their insurance policy. When assessing risk and establishing premium pricing, underwriters prefer to rely on drone footage of aerial site assessments to identify property characteristics, pinpoint farm borders, assess general land conditions and evaluate the value of certain crops.

In most cases, underwriters and adjusters can cover as much as three times as many acres via drone compared to a surveyor on the ground. After crops have been damaged, it can be more challenging and potentially less accurate to rely solely on photos taken from ground view compared to the visual accuracy and multi-angle perspective of aerial drone photos.

Efficiency: Time is money

Drones can shave significant time off the claims process and cut down on adjuster workload in cases where weather damage has affected multiple areas or regional farms. This allows loss amounts to be estimated more quickly and accurately. This only benefits farmers by expediting the recovery process.

Effectiveness: Farmer and Agribusiness use of drones

Due to their ease of use and low cost, drones are now being employed beyond insurance to optimize daily farm and agribusiness operations. For example, drones can effectively help monitor crop health, analyze soil and fields, track weather and calculate yield estimates. Experts expect drone use to transform farming into a high-tech, data-driven industry, resulting in an increase in yields which will more effectively meet the growing world-wide food demand.

We recommend utilizing a third party drone operator with proven agricultural experience. If and when farmers or agribusinesses choose to purchase a drone for use, it is critical to discuss the new operation with your broker to ensure coverage. This typically requires separate aviation insurance and a commercial pilot’s license to pilot the drone. A risk vs. reward analysis is critical to determining if outsourcing the drone service versus doing it yourself is best.

Contact your HUB Agribusiness expert to find out what you need to know about drone use and how it can help optimize your insurance premiums, improve outcomes in potential claims and even enhance your daily operations.