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State Farm First U.S. Insurer to Get FAA Drone Exemption

BY Alan Perlman
22 April 2015

Source: Chicago Inno
By: Jim Dalike

State Farm announced Tuesday that it is the first insurer in the United States to receive FAA approval to test drones. The company said it plans to use the Unmanned Aircraft Systems to assess damage during the claims process after a natural disaster.

insurance company uav faa drone exemption

Bloomington, IL-based State Farm plans to conduct test flights at private sites in Bloomington, and then begin testing in real-world scenarios, the company said.

“The potential use of UAS provides us one more innovative tool to help State Farm customers recover from the unexpected as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Wensley Herbert, Operations Vice President of Claims, said in a statement. “We will continue to provide the same personal, good neighbor service State Farm is recognized for, with assistance from these high-tech devices.”

State Farm first asked for FAA approval back in October to begin testing drones to assess areas hit by a catastrophe. Flying drones commercially is illegal in the United States, but companies can file for an exemption from the FAA. The FAA has, however, revealed plans to legalize commercial drones under proposed regulations, but it’s expected to take at least two years before regulations are finalized.

Fellow Illinois-based company ComED also recently received FAA approval to fly drones, and will use the unmanned aircraft systems to inspect power lines and assess damage after a storm. Clayco, a Chicago-based real estate design-build construction contractor, and Woolpert, an engineering design firm with an office in Oakbrook Terrace, also both received the exemption.

Motorola Solutions, based in Shaumburg, also made drone-related headlines this week as it investedin CyPhy Works, a Massachusetts-based drone maker that has created technology to keep the devices in the air longer before needing to charge.

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