The first drone in WGA’s fleet has been named the WGA1
Boston-based William Gallagher Associates (“WGA”) has announced that it is the first insurance broker in the country to launch a drone to assist in collecting data and assessing damage. Known as “WGA1,” WGA’s drone will be tasked with assisting the brokerage company in performing risk assessment, risk management evaluations, claims and loss prevention services for the company’s clients.
“We are just starting to see what this new technology can do for the insurance industry,” commented Philip J. Edmundson, CEO and Chairman of WGA. “The images captured by the WGA drone will only further enhance our advisory services to clients in the areas of claims and loss control.”
Moreover, the company believes it will be a safe, efficient and cost–effective way to gather valuable data of rooftops and other areas that are difficult to view and asses for claims and loss control inspections. WGA’s Staff Engineer and Loss Control Specialist, Chuck Rogers, will be in charge of operating the WGA1 drone. Mr. Rogers, who joined WGA in 2000, is a veteran of the Massachusetts insurance industry with over 30 years experience in engineering, construction and loss control.
WGA was founded in Boston in 1983 and has grown to become one of the leading independent brokerage firms in the country, with offices in Boston, MA; New York, NY; Hartford, CT; Princeton, NJ Columbia, MD; and Atlanta, GA.
Commercial drone use requires Federal Aviation Authority waiver
Before other insurance agencies or insurance carriers consider organizing their own drone air force, they may want to check with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The commercial use of drones presently requires FAA approval or an FAA waiver
Drones are somewhat ubiquitous because, as opposed to commercial use, the personal use of drones for hobby or recreational purposes does not require any FAA approval. But as to the commercial uses, the FAA’s website “Frequently Asked Questions” page makes it clear in its answer to the question:
I want to fly a UAS [Drone] for business purposes…do I need approval from the FAA?
The FAA’s answer is:
Yes. There are presently three methods of gaining FAA approval for flying civil (non-governmental) drones:
- Special Airworthiness Certificates – Experimental Category (SAC-EC) for civil aircraft to perform research and development, crew training, and market surveys. For-hire operations are prohibited….
- Obtain a UAS type and airworthiness certificate …
- Petition for Exemption with a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for civil aircraft to perform commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments. …
The only practical option of these three, if commercial use of a drone is intended, is to obtain a Certificate of Waiver. The FAA currently authorizes drones for commercial use on a case-by-case basis.
As of February 6, 2015, the FAA has granted approximately 26 waivers for the commercial use of drones. As of the same date, it had approximately 350 requests for waiver pending.