State Farm Insurance, one of my favorite insurance companies (they defended me from a baseless auto lawsuit when I was 19, and were my first clients in my first law firm job), recently submitted not one, but two Section 333 petitions to fly UAS in the United States. The national insurance carrier proposes to use Aerialtronics Altura Zenith ATX8 and the Altavian Nova F6500, both using Airware’s flight control systems.
We noticed when State Farm filed its first Section 333 petition, requesting permission to test flight UAS on its own private property for experimental use, on the heels of insurer USAA doing the same. But we were surprised when State Farm filed their second Section 333 petition, seeking to enlarge their experimental use of UAS (they call it R&D) when they encounter real natural disasters:
“State Farm also seeks an exemption to permit the operation of its UAS to conduct R&D in “real world” situations during and immediately following an actual catastrophe such as hurricane, tornado, windstorm, flood, wild-fire, mudslide or similar event. State Farm’s UAS operations in this scenario would be activated in coordination with the FAA and the official in charge of on scene emergency response activities. As explained further below, such testing will occur under conditions that limit the likelihood of operations over members of the general public and ensure full coordination with any manned aircraft operations. State Farm’s use of UAS during and after actual catastrophes will educate the company on how the potential of UAS can be unlocked to assess the extent and severity of damage to insured property and enable State
Farm to continue to provide remarkable customer service to its policyholders.”
Our Drone/UAS Practice Group has been approached recently by insurers and independent claim adjusting entities wanting to know their chances of a successful 333 petition. Our basic response has been that on an individual claims basis this was not at all likely, but perhaps the FAA might allow it in the event of a natural disaster. It seems State Farm has taken the lead. Let’s hope other insurers and insurance collectives are willing to take the same chance. Its an obvious good use for UAS.
If you would like to talk with Antonelli Law’s Drone/UAS Practice Group about a Section 333 petition for your company, call firm Principal Jeffrey Antonelli at 312-201-8310, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form below:
State Farm’s first Section 333 petition: State_Farm_Mutual_Automobile_Insurance_Company_-_Exemption_Rulemaking
State Farm’s second Section 333 petition: