An Independent’s View on Aerial Photography
One adjuster shares his thoughts and strategies on using aerial photography in the field.
By Eric Gilkey
Aerial photography, not to be confused with satellite imaging, usually refers to images taken from fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, balloons, blimps, and rockets, to name but a few.
“I use this process all the time, and I even have an account directly with Pictometry, the site that measuring companies like EagleView and Aerialogics use,” says Kevin Hromas, CEO of US Insurance Information. He also has worked as an independent and staff adjuster for 14 years and has a background in construction.
“You cannot use aerial images for a damage determination because the pixilation is not clear enough—the government restricts the DPI for images for security reasons. When I need a measurement of a complex roof, I typically use a third-party measuring company,” he says.
“Pictometry has a process where I can use their measuring tools if I want, but my feeling is that it is better to get it from an outside source in order to prevent potential disputes,” continues Hromas. “These reports are great on very complex roofs or roofs that are difficult to climb on because of their steepness or height or because they are covered with materials like tile and slate that can easily be damaged by foot traffic.
“One thing that I have talked about with smaller carriers is using multiple reports, such as HailTrax in combination with an EagleView measurement,” he says. “If you knew there was a certain kind of damage in an area—like hail—then you could potentially desk-settle a claim. However, that could be dangerous because of the potential to miss other damage around the property, not to mention that the type of roofing material would need to be verified. I think the best process is to use a combination of a site inspection for verification of covered damages and then an outside services for measuring.”
“I also use Pictometry as a source for before-and-after photos of a property,” says Hromas. “Because it allows the retrieval of historical photos, I can check for pre-existing hazards or damage. Blue tarps show up very well in these photos, and pulling one out that shows a tarped roof before a policy initiation date goes a long way in negotiations. I have even shown that a building wasn’t even there at the time of a reported loss.”