Digital Revolution in Roof Inspection

Saksham Bhutani

Saksham Bhutani , Marketing Head at Indshine

January 06, 2020

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Although there are several causes of roof damage, we will examine the most common one - the “wind and storm” issue. The National Hurricane Center estimates Irma caused $50 billion in damages, making it the fifth costliest hurricane ever to hit the United States. Florida contributes 55% of that, and Texas and Louisiana add 13% and 9% respectively.

In U.S., a new roof costs around $30,000 on an average but could cost up to a whopping $100,000 if the home has large/complicated roof shapes. Thereby, escalating roof replacement options expenses massively.

On average, close to seven hurricanes every four years (~1.75 per year) strike the United States, while about three major hurricanes cross the U.S. coast every five years (0.60 per year). This is a cause of major destruction, with around close to $50 billion every year in expenses.

Here's a case story around damage inspection analysis of roofs post -Hurricane Dorian which had hit the east coast of Florida on 3rd September 2019. Household owners have been approaching their roofing vendors and insurance companies and this is how drones came to their rescue.

Concept

Rooftop insurance terms

To safeguard their roofs, from any natural disaster, each house owner owns a home insurance policy with insurance companies offering various policies with different premium options.

But, post calamity, Insurance companies start cutting corners and tightening their ‘purse strings’ because of the high dollar amount paid out on roof claims. According to the FOX4 intelligence report, only 57 percent of the nearly 1 million insurance claims that were opened post-Hurricane Irma, September 2017 has been closed in the United States.

Hence, in addition to choosing the right insurance policy, homeowners also choose the right roofer. The roofer is essential to ensure that they have an insurance specialist staff to do the heavy negotiations. Now, insurance specialists typically need data for negotiation, wherein they engage engineering consultants and prefer that the drones bring out the true pictures for them to claim the true cost of damages.

Project Details

Coming back to the case story, Century Roofing Specialists is one of premium commercial and industrial roofing companies based out of Florida. Century Roofing Specialists had an assignment where they were required to operate and maintain more than 38 house roofs in 34.76 acres of land in Terracina, Lake Forest, Florida. They have been also helping their customers to navigate their insurance claims so as to make sure that their insurance company fulfills their pre-storm condition obligation.

For this, they were required to inspect those houses which got affected due to the Hurricane Dorian last year. They had to inspect and prepare reports for those houses as according to the insurance policy clauses, only houses with a damage claim of more than 25% are liable to get claims.

Challenges

The major challenge here was to classify the damages in weather impact, mechanical impact, or some other, which would help the insurance companies to decide claims. The insurance companies were supposed to cover claims only from weather impact.

And for this, there was a need for a detailed roof inspection report for each household, identifying the defects caused due to the weather impact.

Policy Owner's thought

Approach

The conventional methods of roof inspection are risky in nature, from collapsing roofs and insect bites to falling off ladders and scaffolding equipment. Even the reports produced are analog in nature, which never provides a detailed view of the damaged site in comparison to the digital reports produced by drone datasets.

For this, Century Roofing Specialists have partnered with "Voyager Industries” in order to help them out with the above challenge and introduced aerial inspections of the concerned households. Rut Patel, founder of “Voyager Industries,” used the following approach to solve the problem :

  1. Flight Planning: Since the problem statement demanded the inspection of both facades and roofs; UGCS, a mission planning app, was finalized. The flight plan involved specifying the address of the house and the perimeter of the roof, which was done by AutoCad drawings.
  2. Data Collection: DJI drone was flown in, to capture RGB images.
  3. Detection of Faults: Once the images were collected, it got processed and the different defects like Blistering, Shrinkage, and Leaks were identified and marked.

defects on rooftop

  1. For a much more detailed visualisation of the damaged site, high-resolution drone maps (orthomosaic) and 3D models were generated from Pix4D (Drone mapping software).
  2. To produce insurance assessment reports in which they have to do proper budgeting like the amount of material loss, cost of new material, operational and planning cost, etc. they have used Xactimate.

All defects in an individual house rooftop Image showing all defects on rooftop

Finally, detailed insurance assessment reports were attached on each roof using comment tool on the orthomosaic in Indshine. This helped the insurance companies to examine each household report.

You can access the sample project from the embed below:

Results

The individual insurance assessment report included the drone images classified with defects as per their severity and the probable reasons for the same. Weather defects (Hurricanes Dorian here) were highlighted separately on each household roof.

reports attached on each house using comment tool

The following report was submitted to insurance companies with the description of the repair, current market rates, ACV = Actual Cash Value; RCV = Replacement Cost Value; O&P = Operations and Planning Cost and Depreciation.

Insurance assessment report

Summary

Wind and hail storms have been increasing in frequency over the past several years. As a result, insurance companies have started investigating the claim in a much more detailed manner. That is, whether the claim is from natural calamity or some pre-existing damages. For this, homeowners have to choose the right roofer who provides them a warranty of at least 15 years and have an inhouse or partnered legal support staff.

Rut Explains - Indshine gives a new and cool way to represent the roof inspections reports. It allows us to represent reports and orthomosaics on the same page.

Voyager Industries is a partnered engineering support of Century Roofing Specialists, enabling insurance specialists to claim damage cost on behalf of household owners and viz-a-viz giving a clear picture to Insurance companies. Policyholders who were paying their premium on time and had good roofers, in support, get the insurance of around 70 - 80% of their total damage which acts as a great relief to their pockets.

** Contributors ** : Shashank Tewari, Deepali Joshi


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