Using Drones for Claims Investigations

 

The insurance claims industry has been publishing articles claiming to increase the use of drones for investigating property claims. Travelers Insurance Company was recently highlighted in an article in Insurance Journal magazine titled “Travelers’ Drone Program is Changing the Way its Claims Reps Do Business”, dated May 11, 2017.  In the article, Travelers is teaching claims adjusters to use drones to inspect property instead of physically going to the property and doing the inspection.  Where roofs are concerned, there is an obvious safety benefit.  However, the move is to eliminate sending an adjuster altogether thereby eliminating the expense of travel and on-site adjusting time not to mention is reduction in claim handling time.  What about auto claims and water damage claims and fire claims?  If a drone can be used to assess the damage without sending an adjuster to the scene, then the cost savings to the carrier will be very beneficial.  However, whatever cannot be seen by an adjuster now will not be seen by a drone either.  Hidden damage in roofs, vehicles or structures will present the same problem that it does today.  That is, what is not viewable and is not accounted for will have to examined and dealt with when the damage is discovered.  This further implies that roofers will be submitting estimates for additional work.  Similarly, auto mechanics and body shops will be submitting estimates for additional work when hidden damage is brought to light in their respective jobs.  Building contractors will be doing the same thing when they discover problems in structures that will have to be addressed before the building is ready to be reoccupied.  As tempting as drone technology is to insurance carriers; there are restrictions regarding flight over certain areas.  The FAA prohibits flight over certain populated areas and as a matter of safety, they are restricted within a certain distance from airports.  There are also concerns of privacy and whether or not a carrier might be spying on a customer.  Furthermore, can the photographic data be used to intentionally deny coverage to a customer as well as support a claim? Reports of carriers intentionally denying or shorting customers on their settlements is not unheard of and will continue.  Drone technology will facilitate this process.  After all is said and done, drone technology still has a ways to go before it is fully accepted as a common way of doing business.

2017 Scholarship Award Winners

We are proud to announce that Yancey Stewart and Jaquelin Villafuerte have each been chosen to receive the R.J. Hill Consulting scholarship awards for 2017.  Yancey is a senior at Central Magnet school in Murfreesboro Tennessee and is the son of Bill and Andrea Stewart.  Yancey plans to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville beginning in the Fall of 2017.  While at the UT, Yancey plans to major in mechanical engineering and use his education to aid in the fight against cancer.

Jaquelin Villafuerte is a senior at Smyrna High School in Smyrna Tennessee.  Jaquelin is also the daughter of Alain and Maria Villafuerte.  Jaquelin plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University and major in mechatronics engineering.  Jaquelin plans to use her education in various applications such as computers, communications, and systems.

Scott Hill, BSME, MSME, EIT

On behalf of my wife and myself, we are proud to announce that our son, Scott Hill, has received the Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University. While at Tennessee Tech, Scott was active in the Maker space where he supervised the use of machine shop equipment and assisted undergraduate students with the construction of their class assigned projects. Scott was also instrumental in procuring and teaching students how to use 3D printing machines. Moreover, Scott has been involved in the development of drone technology by promoting drone design and entering drone flying competitions. Scott also earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Tech in 2015; graduated Magna Cum Laude and In Curso Honorum.  During his undergraduate years, Scott was active in various student engineering organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Autonomous Robotics Club. Earlier this year, Scott took and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination administered by the State of Tennessee, the first step toward professional licensure. Now, legally recognized by the state of Tennessee as an engineer-in-training, Scott will be going to work for SCI Incorporated as a Mechanical Design Engineer in Huntsville Alabama.

Recalls for Fire and Electrical Defects

The following information describes products that have been recalled for serious defects that can result in fire or electrical shock. All of the information reported here has been reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 

Goodman Air Handlers

 

Goodman Manufacturing has recalled approximately 210,000 air handlers because the units have been found to remain powered when the electrical disconnect handles were removed. The disconnect is a device that is supposed to deenergize the unit when the handle is removed, breaking the electrical circuit that supplies current to the air handler.  The air handlers involved in this recall are models that begin with the letters AWUF and ACNF.  The serial numbers associated with these models begin with 1511, 1512, and 1601 through 1610.  The units were sold by Goodman dealers between November 2015 and October 2016 for use in apartment complexes, townhouses and condominiums.  Mechanical contractors would then install the air handlers along with their condensing units as a package.  Owners should contact Goodman for a free inspection and free repair.  Goodman can be contacted by calling 1-888-386-2075 or visiting Goodman on line at www.goodmanmfg.com and clicking on “Air Handler Product Recall”.  Lastly, the recall number for this recall is 17-103.

 

Carrier Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners

 

The Carrier Corporation is recalling approximately 94,000 packaged terminal air conditioners (PTAC) and packaged terminal heat pumps (PTHP) for problems with the power cords. The units were sold under the Bryant, Carrier, and Fast brand names.  The power cords of these units can overheat and pose a fire hazard to consumers.  It should be noted that approximately 185,000 units were previously recalled in November of 2007 and another 285,000 units recalled in December of 2015.  This recall also includes those units that received a replacement power in the 2007 recall.  The recalled units have capacities of 7000, 9000, 12,000 and 15,000 BTU/Hr and connect to 208/230 volt power.  The recall covers the following units: Carrier models 52CE, 52CQ, 52PE, 52PQ, 52PC, 52ME and 52MQ; Bryant models 840, 841, and 842; and Fast models 840, 841, and 842.  Consumers should discontinue use of these machines and contact Carrier to receive a free replacement cord.  Carrier can contacted by calling 1-800-761-8492 or visiting www.carrier.com and clicking on “Important Product Safety Recall”.  The recall number for this recall is 17-094.

 

Philips Lighting Metal Halide Lamps

 

Philips Lighting is recalling 256,000 metal halide lamps. The company has recognized that the lamps can shatter and cause hot glass debris to fall and pose fire and laceration hazards.  The recall applies to Philips Energy Advantage Ceramic Metal Halide Lamps, model CDM330.  The lamps were manufactured between May 2011 and March 2014.  Both clear and coated versions of the lamp are included in this recall.  The recall applies to lamps with the following date codes:

1E, 1F, 1G, 1H, 1J, 1K, 1L, 1M, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 2J, 2K, 2L, 2M, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 3E, 3F, 3G, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3L, 3M, 4A, 4B, and 4C. The date code can be found on the base of the lamp or the glass bulb.  Consumers should stop using the bulbs and contact Philips for a free replacement.  Philips can be contacted by calling 1-866-253-5503 or visiting www.philips.com and clicking on “For Professionals” and then “Recalls”.  The recall number for this recall is 17-100.

Gas Station Hose Swivel Connectors Recalled

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has announced the recall, by OPW, of 824,000 of its fuel hose swivel connectors. The connectors can separate from the hose or nozzle of the fuel pump resulting in fuel spillage and possible fire and explosion hazards.  The connectors are used on fuel hoses at gas stations that sell gasolines and diesel fuels.  The connectors that are recalled are listed below as follows:

 

Model                                                Manufacturing Date    

241TPS-0241C (3/4 inch)             01/01/2013 through 03/12/2017

241TPS-0241 (3/4 inch)                01/2013 through 03/2017

36S (3/4 inch)                                01/01/2013 through 03/12/2017

241-1000 (1 inch)                          01/2013 through 03/2017

241-1000C (1 inch)                       01/01/2013 through 03/12/2017

36S (1 inch)                                   01/2013 through 03/2017

 

For additional information, owners or consumers can contact OPW by calling toll free 1-866-562-5931 or visiting www.opwglobal.com.  Owners and consumers can also visit the Consumer Product safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov/recalls/2017/OPW-Recalls-Gas-Station-Hose-Swivel-Connector (on 4th page of list).  The recall number is 17-116.

 

 

GM Appeal Over Ignition Switch Cases – DENIED

The Associated Press is reporting this morning that the appeal filed by General Motors has been denied by the Supreme Court. General Motors was seeking to halt several lawsuits filed in response to the faulty ignition switch cases that were installed in certain vehicles .  The Supreme Court effectively said that the company could not hide between its 2009 bankruptcy by leaving in place a lower court ruling that said that the company was still liable.  The liability means that GM could be exposed to billions in additional claims.   A federal appeals court ruled in 2016 that the company was liable because it knew of the faulty switches for several years before filing bankruptcy and did not disclose the information to the bankruptcy court.  To date, GM has paid more than $875 million to settle death and injury claims.  This amount includes $600 million paid from a victim’s fund as well as $275 million to settle claims from 1385 separate cases.  General Motors has also paid $300 million to settle shareholder lawsuits.

Hyundai Kia Recalls

ABC news has announced that Hyundai and Kia have recently recalled over 1 million vehicles for faulty engines. The recall applies to 2011-2014 Kia Optima, 2011-2013 Kia Sportage, 2012-2014 Kia Sorento.  The vehicles are equipped with 2 liter or 2.4 liter engines which were manufactured by Hyundai’s engine plant in Alabama.  The problem with the engines is that internal parts were not cleaned properly and debris from manufacturing could restrict or block oil flow.  As a result, bearings can fail and cause the engine to stall.  Possible indications of an impending engine failure include engine warning lights and a knocking sound that increases in frequency with engine speed.  Owners should take their vehicles to their Hyundai/Kia dealers to have them checked.  The dealers will replace the block if necessary at no cost to the owner.  The recall is scheduled to begin on May 19, 2017.  It should be noted that this recall is the second recall issued in the past two years for the same engine problem.  In 2015, Hyundai recalled 470,000 2011-2012 Sonata sedans with the same engines.  For additional information, owners can contact Hyundai/Kia by calling 1-800-333-4542 or visiting www.kia.com.

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