Drone use has left the launch pad and is increasing rapidly. Insurers are showing a big interest in drones for anti-fraud operations, underwriting and claims handling.
The feds and states are working to impose order on the evolving dronescape. Recreational users soon will have to register their machines. The Department of Transportation is creating task force with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a registration system.
Using these little eyes in the skies for anti-fraud operations and other functions is drawing considerable attention in statehouses as well. Privacy is the main issue driving drone debates, says the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Some 45 states considered more than 100 drone bills and inked 20 laws this year alone.
Several bills also required law enforcement to obtain search warrants for drone use. Others were skyway-safety measures limiting where drones can be used (e.g., away from commercial airports).
These bills harken back a decade or more when states began imposing stricter control of video surveillance.
A New York bill, for instance, tried to make it a crime for insurers to shoot surveillance video unless they had permission of the persons being filmed. Critics said the language was so broad it would’ve criminalized tourists filming the sights and sounds of Times Square.
Most state legislation during this time recognized a legitimate insurer purpose in using surveillance video. Society struck a rational balance between allowing crime-fighting while protecting people’s privacy.
New York is back again with another potentially over-reaching surveillance bill. Unless it’s carefully worded, it could put the kibosh on legitimate insurer drone use for anti-fraud operations.
The national debates over proper drone use are gaining steam. Protecting privacy rights will be a major aspect of the debates once again. Rules and limits will be imposed. Upcoming laws, regulations and court decisions also must allow legitimate insurer use of drone surveillance to protect society from insurance schemes.
It’s time to fly high with a national dialogue on insurer drone use. And fraud fighters should be front and center.
About the author: Howard Goldblatt is director of government affairs for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.