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Our series on drones, known formally as “unmanned aircraft systems” or “UAS,” addresses the growing use of drones in numerous industries across the United States. Many sectors in the United States have embraced drones due to their ability to significantly reduce costs, execute a variety of tasks traditionally performed by human labor, access places that humans and larger aircraft are incapable of reaching and provide enhanced reliability and accuracy of data.

Furthermore, commercial drone use in the U.S. is expected to become more prevalent as federal government decision-makers and industry stakeholders work together to encourage drone use in commercial operations and to foster the integration of drones into the nation’s airspace.

Here’s the fifth installment of our series, which focuses on the rapidly increasing integration of drones into the insurance and real estate industries.


The insurance industry increasingly is relying on drones to identify and assess risks, as evidenced by the fact that insurance companies employ 17% of all commercial drones.

  • Drones allow insurers to more thoroughly and cost effectively inspect a property prior to issuing a new policy, as well as to inspect the property for maintenance purposes once a policy has been issued.
  • Drones are more quickly and easily able to access insured properties immediately following a natural disaster, thus providing a significantly safer alternative to deploying an adjuster to inspect damaged property. In fact, according to one study, drone utilization by claims adjusters is anticipated to result in up to 50% increased workflow efficiency.
  • Drones are able to capture high resolution images of insured properties at safe distances, which can then be used to create catastrophe model components and inputs for analysis.

All of these benefits can facilitate shorter claim processing time and more precise risk management. Finally, the industry sector is also profiting from a new line of business, the insuring of drones and drone-based operations.

Real Estate

End users in the real estate industry use drones in various ways that increase efficiency and safety and reduce costs and risks. Through the use of LiDAR, a surveying method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to illuminate a target and measure the reflected light with a sensor, drones are able to capture 3D images of high-quality data for large land parcels, thus assisting developers with:

  • Asset identification and inventory
  • Transportation planning
  • Traffic monitoring and assessments
  • Utility mapping

This type of imaging can also assist potential purchasers with evaluating matters concerning the structure of the land, such as the likelihood of flooding and other issues. Moreover, the advanced photography and videography drones are capable of performing provide potential buyers with the ability to partake in a remote walk-through of the property and even monitor the progress of a building’s construction. Finally, drones are able to provide property owners with analytics regarding the condition of a property before an issue, such as a roof leak, arises.

While commercial drone operation in the United States continues to advance, obstacles remain that prohibit the commercial drone industry from reaching its full potential.

For example, public perception of drones, especially in areas of the country where commercial drone use has not gained sufficient exposure, needs to be modified so that the public will understand the numerous benefits drones can provide to various industries rather than viewing drones as voyeuristic devices that promote trespassing and invasions of privacy.

In addition, state and local government decision-makers across the country will need to work with federal government leaders and industry stakeholders to facilitate commercial drone operations and remove barriers that threaten to curtail the progression of the industry.

We will continue to share the latest developments and provide insights as we proceed to monitor the growing commercial drone industry.

Stay tuned for the final installment of our Taking Off series, which will feature an outlook for 2020 for the ever-expanding commercial drone industry.