Do Insurance Regulations Preclude Carriers from Using Drones in Claims?

There are no specific insurance regulations that outright preclude the use of drones for claims. Naturally, compliance with FAA rules is the primary requirement. In todays blog we'll talk about the advancements and hindrances of these mighty devices.

By Carla Rodriguez | Jun. 27, 2024 | 5 min. read


Seems the best way to approach technological advancements in a historically ‘traditional’ industry is through the frontline employees. That means you! Let’s explore how drones are reshaping the landscape of insurance claims.

Insurance adjusters, SIU teams, Claims Outsourcing, and Third Party Administrators benefit greatly from advancements in data collection.


How Are Drones Effective For Collecting Different Types of Data?

Drones can inspect damaged properties and disaster zones faster and safer than you or I ever could. This is like comparing months to days when recording the time it takes to inspect natural disaster areas; Let’s think of Hurricane Harvey – this is a perfect example of how insurance companies can avoid potentially dangerous situations for their employees such as inspecting storm-damaged roofs and major floods.

Taking it one step further, if we combine drone technology with AI we have a super data analyzing machine that can identify patterns, take measurements, predict potential risks, and make the lives of adjusters that much easier.

Flying robots aren’t going to take anyone’s jobs away but they will change them. For example, instead of driving to the site of a claim, you grab your drone, or computer and tell it where to go. If you’re lucky you don’t even have to leave the office. Of course, once the data comes back you need to piece it together, analyze it, and apply it to the claims process. If you’re willing to adjust to change and brush up on your tech skills – your job will always be secure.

Let’s get into your real questions.

Do Insurance Regulations Preclude Carriers from Using Drones in Claims?

The integration of drones in insurance claims is a game-changer. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the use of drones (or Unmanned Aerial Systems, UAS). Insurance carriers must adhere to FAA regulations, which include:

Part 107 Rules: These cover the commercial use of drones, requiring operators to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.
Waivers and Authorizations: For operations outside standard regulations (e.g., flying over people, at night), carriers must seek specific waivers.

The FAA states that unmanned aircraft systems weighing less than 55 pounds must follow a series of rules.


“Just as there are rules of the road when driving a car, there are rules of the sky when operating a drone.” – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)


Line of Sight: Drones must be operated within the visual line of sight of the remote pilot.
Daylight Operations: Drones can only be flown during daylight hours or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
Altitude: Drones cannot be flown higher than 400 feet above ground level unless within a 400-foot radius of a structure.
Speed: The maximum allowable speed is 100 mph (87 knots).
Airspace Authorization: Operations in certain controlled airspace (e.g., near airports) require authorization from the FAA.


What are the Consumer Privacy Limitations?

Alright, let’s discuss the limitations of using drones over people. There are different sets of guidelines depending on the type of drone you are using.

Category 1: Lightweight and Safe

For Category 1 operations, we’re dealing with the smallest and lightest drones. They weigh 0.55 pounds or less, including everything onboard. They are designed without any exposed rotating parts that could cause lacerations.

These drones are safe to fly over people, but there’s a caveat: they can only fly over open-air assemblies if Remote ID compliant. So, if you’re thinking of hovering over a crowd at a concert, that’s a no-go unless you’ve got your tech in order.

What is remote ID?

Remote ID is the ability of a drone in flight to provide identification and location information that can be received by other parties through a broadcast signal. Read more here.

Category 2 and 3:

When we move into Category 2 and 3, it includes drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds but don’t have an airworthiness certificate. Here, the rules get a bit stricter.

Category 2: These drones can’t maintain sustained flight over open-air assemblies without Remote ID compliance. So, while they’re allowed over people, you need to make sure they’re not hanging around too long over any gatherings.

Category 3: This category introduces even more restrictions. No sustained flight over open-air assemblies at all. Additionally, you can only fly these drones over people if the operation is within a closed or restricted-access site, where everyone is aware that drones may be flying overhead.

Alternatively, the drone should not fly over any person unless they’re participating in the operation or are protected under a covered structure or inside a stationary vehicle.

Category 4:

Category 4 drones are the major players, equipped with an airworthiness certificate. They can operate over people as long as they adhere to the operating limitations. And yes, no sustained flight over open-air assemblies without Remote ID compliance.

How Can Drones Be Used to Assist with Workers’ Compensation Claims?

Drones offer a revolutionary way to handle workers’ compensation claims, enhancing efficiency and accuracy in several ways:

  • Accident Scenes: Drones can quickly and safely document accident scenes in high-risk environments, such as construction sites or industrial plants. High-resolution aerial imagery captures precise details that might be missed during ground-level inspections.
  • Progress Monitoring: For cases involving long-term recovery, drones can monitor the progress of site safety improvements, ensuring compliance with safety regulations and preventing future incidents.

There are oftentimes accidents on construction sites with poor scaffolding or dangerous working conditions where a drone can prove to be useful by inspecting the area before or even after a workers’ compensation claim has been filed.

The aerial footage and data collected by drones would serve as valuable evidence in legal proceedings, such as the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the O’Donnell family. It would provide clear, objective documentation of the site conditions and the circumstances leading up to the accident, aiding in determining liability and potentially influencing the outcome of the case.

The following article highlights a situation where a drone could’ve helped prevent a tragedy but also aid with the aftermath of the accident.

Ask us all of your claims-related questions either on our LinkedIn or during one of our webinars!