Insurance Company Takes To The Sky After Hurricane Michael

Oct 17, 2018

The drone used by State Farm to assess damage caused by Hurricane Michael.
Credit Shawn Mulcahy / WFSU

Insurance companies say they’re being flooded with claims after Hurricane Michael hit Florida’s panhandle. A new technology is taking off to survey the damage.

In the outskirts of Tallahassee at Okeeheepkee Prairie Park, State Farm claims adjusters launch a computer-operated drone. Equipped with sensors and a high-resolution camera, the craft inspects claims filed with the insurance company from about four hundred feet in the air.

“We basically got a command center that has a laptop that controls the drone," explains pilot Garth Weaver. "We’re going to launch the drone, it’s going to go up, do it’s normal flight plan, take the photos that we need to complete the loss assessment, then it’s going to come down and land. Then we can upload the data for our customers.”

This allows insurance companies to survey much larger areas. And it gives them access to areas that can’t be reached by car.

"A lot of times there are areas that are cut off by trees that they can’t access," says Weaver. "But maybe with the drone technology we can find a place to land and take off from. So we can access and get photos for them so they know what’s going on in the house before they even get in the area.”

The technology was first tested in South Carolina after Hurricane Florence, but Weaver hopes to take it nationwide to assess damage from events like tornadoes and wildfires.