Insurance Companies are Secretly Flying Drones and Taking Photos of Your Home

Insurance Companies are Secretly Flying Drones and Taking Photos of Your Home

Home insurance companies are secretly taking photos of private residences with drones, surveillance balloons, and even manned planes to find reasons to drop you as a customer.

According to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, major insurance companies across the U.S. are now flying drones to take images of customers’ homes and cancel their policies.

Mega-insurers are reportedly dropping all but the safest properties in an effort to recover from big underwriting losses — and aerial photography is a cheap and easy way to justify it.

Every Home in the U.S. is Being Photographed

The report claims that nearly every building in the U.S. is being photographed, often without the owner’s knowledge and no property is safe from surveillance.

These companies are even deploying manned airplanes and high-altitude balloons to scope out customers’ houses — with the industry-funded Geospatial Insurance Consortium airplane imagery program covering 99% coverage of the entire U.S. population.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase across the country in reports from consumers who’ve been dropped by their insurers on the basis of an aerial image,” Amy Bach, executive director of consumer group United Policyholders, tells The Wall Street Journal.

Insurance companies are using aerial camera devices to identify “underwriting no-nos” such as damaged roof shingles, yard debris, overhanging tree branches, and undeclared swimming pools or trampolines in customers’ properties.

These aerial photographs then allow insurers to cancel customers’ home policies nationwide.

Imperfect Photos of Perfectly Fine Homes

Insurers claim that customers agree to home inspections when they purchase a policy and that photographing properties from the sky is less intrusive than the home visits used in the past.

However, the report claims that its use of this aerial camera technology is flawed. U.S. insurance companies have dropped customers over images that are outdated or misrepresented. In one example given by the publication, a drone photo that initially appeared to show fallen tree limbs was actually just shadows.

Cindy Picos, who lives in Auburn, California, tells The Wall Street Journal that her home insurance CSAA Insurance used a drone to take aerial photos of her home and then dropped her as a customer.

“I thought they had the wrong house. Our roof is in fine shape,” Picos says.

To prove that her roof was in fine condition, Picos hired an independent inspection company to survey her Californian home The company told her that her roof had another 10 years of life at least.

However, CSAA Insurance still refused to reconsider its decision and Picos was never even allowed to view the insurer’s aerial images.

A spokesman for CSAA Insurance tells The Washington Street Journal that it has since changed its policy to allow customers to see images on request. The spokesperson claims that plane and satellite images are reviewed by employees and enable accurate and efficient inspections.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.