Ecclesiastical Insurance is trialling drone technology as a way to enhance its risk management service for commercial customers.
The company is hoping drones can provide aerial imagery of otherwise inaccessible parts of buildings, and give it a fresh risk insight and accurate data to support building valuations undertaken by its surveyors.
Ecclesiastical has used drones at three sites so far with a fourth site scheduled for next year.
So far, the technology has revealed damaged and loose high level slates, tiles and stonework and missing pointing.
One of the test sites, a school in the south of England, received a shock when the drone revealed a number of footballs, rugby balls and tennis balls sitting on the roof of its new sports hall blocking the gutters.
Commenting on the trials, Mark Matthews, risk management director at Ecclesiastical said: “Heritage structures present unique access and maintenance challenges. The use of drone technology gives us access to high quality imagery and very accurate data, which would be near impossible to obtain via traditional surveying methods.
He added: “We can then apply our own knowledge and expertise to the results to assess the risks and provide specialist advice on how to manage these.”
The data gathered from the drones will also enable Ecclesiastical to calculate reinstatement or restoration values with more certainty reducing the risk of under-insurance for its customers.
As well as benefiting its own business, Ecclesiastical has shared the drone imagery with the trial sites.
For St Hilda’s church in Halifax, the images have been used as part of an application to source funding for a maintenance grant.
Another of the trials took place at Worcester Cathedral and has led the team at the cathedral to plan for the needed worth and save on costly scaffolding.
Mark concluded: “From the trials we’ve been running it’s clear that drone technology will complement the expertise of our risk management team and strengthen the service we provide to our customers. We are excited to see what else this technology can bring to our offering.”