A discovery that we find exciting and want to experience
Achmea is a partner of the Amsterdam Drone Week. And a striking partner, because insurance is not the first thing you think of when it comes to drones. Yet it is not that strange, says Michiel Delfos, director of the Division General Insurance. “Achmea wants to make the Netherlands a bit safer and more climate-proof. And then it is good to be at the forefront of new technology.”
"That's right, drone technology is not the first thing you think of at an insurance company," agrees Michiel Delfos (photo). “Yet it is a technology that we keep a close eye on and where we like to lead the way. Insurers simply exist by risk. And where risks disappear in one place, they appear in another. I am convinced that car damage will no longer occur in the future, at the same time new risk will emerge and new insurance markets will develop.. And we also do it because we as Achmea can make things better for society and our customers. We are constantly thinking about how we can make the Netherlands safer and more climate-proof. We can benefit from that, society benefits and the customer benefits, a win-win-win situation due to new technology.”
Precisely for that reason, Delfos does not only think about how drone operations can be insured as well as possible, but Achmea uses its own pilots to use drones to advise entrepreneurs on how they can minimize the risk of damage. Delfos: “For example, we fly above greenhouses to check the windows for cracks. But we also have sensors in parking garages to detect flooding on time. All technical solutions to minimize the risk of damage."
Delfos has just returned from China where he visited drone manufacturer DJI. "Awesome! The drive, the optimism and the belief in the future. Very inspiring. For example, they showed how they can assess damage to ship's walls with drones. In places where you normally can hardly reach. That is cheaper and less dangerous than if you have to let people do that. And that ultimately has consequences for the level of the insurance premiums. They can go down."
Achmea is also lobbying for uniform regulations in the EU. “During the Amsterdam Drone Week there is a separate meeting about drone regulations that we join. And last week we received an email from the municipality of Enschede asking if we want to contribute ideas about rules concerning cross-border drone traffic. First of all, you want everything around drones to be as safe as possible. But if things go wrong there must be coverage. You can achieve the first with good regulations. But also with prevention requirements. Governments, but also insurers, can enforce that. Ultimately, it was also the insurers that made seat belts in cars compulsory. In this way we will also set certain requirements for drones. Insuring may never be more than covering a residual risk. If a lot of accidents happen, you will have to deal with uninsurability. And nobody wants that."
And then there is the question of liability. Delfos is aware that this is becoming increasingly complicated, partly due to the rapid developments surrounding autonomous driving and flying. Questions such as ‘who is liable for damage if a self-driving drone flies into something?’ Delfos: “Very complicated. That has not yet been developed. That is why we often participate in tests. For example, we develop an insurance for pilots with self-driving vehicles. And two years ago we insured a self-driving tractor - which, incidentally, only runs on the farmer's land, but you still have to start somewhere to gain experience. Because we don't know much yet. It will most likely go more and more to product liability. So that the manufacturer is liable if something goes wrong. But perhaps it is the company that has purchased such a device, or the software builder. Again: unexplored and complex terrain. But that is also why it is important that we stay ahead and consult with manufacturers of these types of systems. This whole new world is also a journey of discovery that we find exciting and want to experience in full."