Reinsurance broker Willis Re offers drone rental service

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Willis Re, the reinsurance broking arm of Willis Towers Watson, said on Monday it is launching a drone rental service with specialist firm Measure, as insurers increasingly use the unmanned aircraft to assess catastrophe losses.

Drones can easily identify properties and infrastructure that have been flooded or are in the path of rising water, Willis Re and Measure said in a statement.

British insurer Aviva used drones for the first time to assess flood damage during recent storms in Scotland and the north of England.

“There is a huge opportunity for the use of drones to improve public safety and enhance damage estimates, and incorporating drone usage into the insurance process is the next big step,” Alice Underwood, executive vice president and director of analytics at Willis Re North America, said in the statement.

Measure will arrange regulatory approvals, provide the drones and operators and produce images and data, a Willis Re spokeswoman said. The service is available imnmediately, she said.

“Through the partnership, clients can obtain preferred pricing and world class drone service to provide them with the actionable imagery and data they desire for their business,” the spokeswoman added.

Drones were also used to assess damage following explosions last year in the Chinese port of Tianjin, which caused more than $3 billion in insured losses, according to some estimates. (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Jan Harvey)