The Federal Aviation Administration has approved USAA’s request to test drones, also called Small Unmanned Air Vehicles, to speed the review of insurance claims following natural disasters. USAA is among the first insurers to be granted FAA approval for such testing.

“Our members have grown accustomed to seeing us pave the way for innovative solutions that streamline the claims process,” said Alan Krapf, president, USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group. 

[For more about how insurers soon will be using drones, click here]

USAA filed for an exemption under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 in October 2014 to test small drones. USAA now can fly drones, made by U.S.-based PrecisionHawk, during day-light hours and within line-of-sight of a trained pilot and air crew. Previously, test flights could only take place at FAA-approved sites. No aircraft will exceed an altitude of 400 feet, and all flights will continue to be reported to the FAA prior to takeoff.

USAA will work with PrecisionHawk to research and develop best practices, safety, and privacy protocols and procedures as the insurer develops plans for operational use. USAA also filed for an additional FAA exemption to enhance USAA’s ability to use drones in catastrophes. That exemption petition is pending approval, and a decision is expected soon.

“We’re proud to be among the first insurers approved to test this technology,” Krapf said. “It’s our responsibility to explore every option to improve our members’ experience.”   

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