Re-Insurance

Maiden-backed drone firm upgrades services

  • Bird’s eye view: a photograph of a roof in San Francisco that was taken by a camera-equipped drone using Betterview’s technology to assist with insurance inspections and claims. The start-up company is now three years old and has received funding from a number of investors, including Maiden Re

An insurtech start-up that has attracted investment from island reinsurer Maiden Re has released a commercial drone package for property insurance inspections and claims.

It is the latest advancement for Betterview, a US company set up three years ago.

The start-up uses software and services, including drones, to capture and analyse data for buildings and properties, which can be used by the property insurance industry. It has a network for more than 4,500 drone operators in the US who inspect thousands of buildings for insurance, real estate and construction industry customers.

The company uses computer software, including artificial intelligence, to process detailed imagery of properties that can be used to identify problems, assess damage and settle claims.

Now, in response to requests from clients asking if they could have the software and the hardware — such as their own drones — Betterview has released a commercial drone package for property insurance inspections and claims.

The pre-assembled package includes a choice of drones, tablet and drone service kits, certification training and software programs.

Dave Tobias, chief operations officer and co-founder of Betterview, said: “The launch of Betterview’s drone inspection package for insurance was driven by market demand.

“Over the last year as the use of our software expanded within insurance, our clients started asking us more and more about providing a hardware and software solution.

“With our new insurance inspection kit, we’ll be with you every step of the way, whether you need help onboarding staff, assistance with drone hardware or have questions about report output.”

Drones and “a highly precise computer vision system” are particularly useful for identifying problems with roofs, such as damage caused by hail or winds, loose wires, debris and waterponding. The associated software programs use historical weather information, detailed measurements, assessors’ data and other sources to detect and analyse property issues and potential issues.

Betterview’s software, including artificial intelligence, processes detailed imagery of properties that can be used to identify problems, assess damage and settle claims.

With its new drone package, which includes drones made by DJI, the company said it will quickly ship replacement parts when needed, and upgrade to the latest hardware when “a new, better drone hits the market”.

David Lyman, CEO and co-founder of Betterview, said the company’s insurance inspection kit would “eliminate the need to deal with multiple vendors, and more importantly, make it easier to implement drone technology”.

He also said that as part of the package, Betterview would take care of getting Federal Aviation clearance or obtaining waivers for insurance inspectors to fly drones in controlled airspace after a catastrophe, such as happened in Texas and Florida this year in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Betterview completed a $2.06 million fundraising round in September, which attracted support from Maiden Re, part of Maiden Holdings Ltd, along with Compound Venture Capital and other investors. In total, Betterview has attracted $3.65 million in funding.

In September, Colin Fitt, senior vice-president, corporate development at Maiden Re, said: “Maiden Re is very pleased to have participated in Betterview’s latest fundraising round.

“Our ongoing strategic objective is to support emerging technology which provides operational, analytical, and competitive advantages to our clients.”

Elsewhere, the use of drones for commercial inspections is also gathering pace.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is developing acceptance criteria to allow drones to be used for inspections of Singapore-registered ships. The criteria is expected to be ready by early in the new year.

The website Safety4Sea reported the news, and wrote: “Methods of remote inspection, using drones armed with cameras and ship-inspecting robots, are safer and can save time and cost for shipowners, as they eliminate the need for traditional method of survey, such as erecting staging in the cargo tanks.

“Marine surveyors also do not have to risk their lives by having to climb high places or be exposed to adverse conditions to check for defects”.