Insurance Company Flew a Drone to Take Photos of Man’s House and Canceled His Policy

A customer claims that he was dropped by his longtime home insurance company — based on photos taken by a “drone” over his property.

According to a report by ABC7 News Bay Area on Wednesday, CJ Sveen was shocked when he received the termination notice from his homeowners insurance on his property in Oakley, East Bay.

ABC7 News Bay Area reports that wildfire season is underway at this time of year in the San Francisco Bay Area and homeowner insurance is increasingly scarce. Some companies are refusing to write new policies, while others are dropping loyal customers.

According to Sveen, he was told by his longtime home insurance carrier California State Automobile Association (CSAA) Insurance Group that it was letting him go after photos taken over his property showed hazards in his yard.

“Apparently they had some pictures, and they noticed clutter,” Sveen tells ABC7 News Bay Area

The notice said that CSAA found “debris, hazardous conditions, tires or a dilapidated car” in his yard. Sveen’s house is reportedly not in a fire zone and he had never filed a single claim in 15 years.

Sveen was confused as to how the CSAA would have taken photos of these items. The homeowner tells ABC7 News Bay Area that he had seen drones fly over his property before but he had never taken much notice of the devices.

Sveen decided to call the CSAA and find out for himself. Although the company would not show him the pictures, Sveen claims that CSAA told him that it had sent a drone over his property.

“And they said, ‘Oh, we sent over a drone.’ And like, they have a drone that they sent over my property. Just flew into my yard. So, [I was very] very shocked, yeah,” Sveen says.

‘Now, They Send a Drone’

Sveen felt his privacy had been intruded on by the supposed drone. Furthermore, he says the CSAA would not let him see the drone photos nor give him a chance to clear his yard so he could reinstate his policy.

“I guess the old-school way would be to knock on your door. I guess they don’t do that anymore, they send a drone,” Sveen says.

Later, according to ABC7 News Bay Area, the CSAA backtracked and told Sveen that it did not use a drone: “The company does not perform surveillance on insured properties using drones.”

In a letter, the CSAA said it may review “proprietary aerial imagery” to assess risk. The company tells ABC7 News Bay Area that the images may have been captured by “fixed-wing airplane or satellite” instead.

But the CSAA would reportedly still not show those images to the news outlet or Sveen.

ABC7 News Bay Area reports that insurance companies are increasingly using tools like aerial photography to assess the risk on a house. The CSAA told the news outlet that online services like Google Earth can give customers an insight into how companies assess the risk of insuring a home.