You may recall when DroneBase's Head of Ops, Nick Osgood, wrote about the Ins and Outs of Insurance Missions to provide more context on their value for the drone community. Today, we take a look at insurance missions through the lens of one of our veteran drone pilots, Vic Moss.
Vic is an award-winning photographer and a licensed, experienced drone operator. You may have heard Vic's name before due to how active he is in the drone community: he's an administrator of the UAV Legal News and Discussion group on Facebook, an aerial photography instructor, and flies DroneBase insurance missions regularly.
Below is Vic's honest take on the value of insurance missions and why he chooses to fly with DroneBase.
"I like a few things about flying DroneBase insurance missions.
First, of course, is the money.
Second is that I get to meet some fun people. I’m a people person, so I like to do that.
Third, it’s an awesome opportunity to be an ambassador for the drone industry. Very few people have seen a drone up close, and only learn about drones from what they see on the news. And that’s rarely positive. As more drones are seen by the public, the more accepted they’ll be by the public. Every flight we take on a DB mission is one more person who is exposed to the positive image of drones.
It’s also a great way to stay sharp on the sticks, and get paid for it at the same time. Most of my standard drone gigs are in larger, more open areas. Having to concentrate on keeping the drone away from trees and power lines helps sharpen my close quarter flight skills. I’ve already been able to take advantage of that on a couple of commercial drone shoots just last week.
[Regarding payout...] We’d all like to make more money when we’re flying. I’d like to see the insurance missions to be around $100 each. But then again, last week I had a full day shooting off-road vehicles for a large tire manufacturer that I’d like to have seen more pay from.
As Creatives, we are price takers, not price setters. Especially when it comes to commodity missions like insurance inspections. There is a fine line between a viable and cost effective method of inspections with a drone versus putting a person on the roof. I believe that once this becomes more commonplace, and more insurance companies see the incredible safety benefits of drones (& not just the cost savings), more companies will use drones, and the prices will go up. More companies mean more pilots needed. And as more pilots are needed, the better ones will get the higher paying missions. It’s simple supply and demand.
Also, DroneBase insurance missions are literally accept, shoot, upload, and forget.
While you could certainly get more money per mission if you go out and do this on your own, you have to factor in all of the extra work you’ll need to do. First, you’ll have to develop or purchase a software and data management system. Then you’ll need to network and get large-scale clients to make it worth your investment. Then you’ll have to schedule, shoot, upload, QC, and forward all of the relevant information to the clients. Then you’ll need to bill them, and take care of all the paperwork. And the key to this business model is volume, so you’ll need to hire more pilots, and then take a cut of their fees, which puts you right into the same business model that already exists for DroneBase. So why go through all that brain damage when you can just accept, shoot, upload, and forget it? And oh yeah, you get paid right away for your missions.
And if you have 2 or 3 days of bad weather in a row, your schedule is blown out of the water. And you get to start all over again.
Now let’s look at the liability side of things.
There is a reason that insurance companies employ so many lawyers. The industry is litigated a multitude of times each day. That’s just the nature of the business. If you’re shooting for DroneBase, you have zero liability in the event (and eventuality) of one of your missions ending up in court. You don’t save the imagery from DB. You delete it 48 hours after the mission is accepted. If you don’t have the imagery, you can’t be expected to testify in court. But if you are the company that keeps the imagery, you can bet the farm that you’ll be called into court when the inevitable happens. Which could mean lawyer fees. And does mean headaches and loss of income.
Once you take a look at all of the time, expense, and liability of doing these type of missions for yourself, you have to wonder if the extra money you’d get for it would be worth the brain damage and grey hairs.
Personally, given the amount of pre-production and post-production work that goes into my regular shoots, I kinda like the “accept, shoot, upload, and forget” business model for the DroneBase missions.
It’s a refreshing change of pace."
-- Vic Moss