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04 03 2013 04480 963X150px

Take part in IMIA photo competition

Take part in IMIA photo competition

13 April 2017

Best drone picture will receive £3000 and best normal photo will receive £5000 

Entries to be received by 30 June

Can advances in imaging technology really help engineering risk underwriting? Richard Radevsky, executive committee member of International Association of Engineering Insurers, believes they can.

A picture paints a thousand words, so the saying goes, and photos never lie. These two attributes make photographs invaluable in the world of engineering risk and underwriting.

When underwriters consider whether to insure an engineering risk, and at what rate, access to pictures and images gives them a far better impression than mere words on a page. For many years it has been the case that underwriters want to see the pictures first to get an overall impression of a risk before considering the written material. As technology improves and the cost of providing high quality visual information falls, underwriters' expectations are increasing for better visual information. The improvements are also enhancing the ability of brokers to provide a first class presentation of a risk.

When risk engineering surveys are carried out there is nothing as convincing to a project manager as seeing a picture of something that needs to be improved. It's difficult to argue that a problem has been misinterpreted or is an isolated anomaly if there are photos to prove what a surveyor is saying.

The ease with which photographs are taken and logged has seen them become recognised as official records of progress on projects. Cameras with satellite connections can pinpoint the exact location, particularly important when a photograph is taken in a remote area. These can be tied to digital maps making it possible to integrate large projects, such as roads, railways and pipelines, into a ‘virtual world' image which can be manipulated for management and presentation purposes.

With the arrival of drones, the views of large scale projects have been vastly improved. The information can be recorded at a fraction of the cost that would, previously, have required the hire of aircraft or helicopters.

Drone surveys can also be used to assess areas of damage before evidence disappears, where other forms of aerial survey could not be arranged quickly enough. The use of drones in project progress surveys is also becoming more commonplace.

The quality of cameras and resolution of pictures makes it possible to record increasing amounts of detail. As a result, we are seeing new uses for drones constantly emerging. For example, drones fitted with specialist infrared cameras can quickly assess whether individual cells within a large solar park are functioning properly; something that other testing methods would take a significant amount of time to complete.

Using drone footage means underwriters can now view the full length of a motorway including tunnels; this can help to rapidly obtain an overall impression of the complexity of the risk and assist in decisions about where to focus requests for additional information.

Developments continue to move at a pace and the market is beginning to see realistic animations of engineering operations prepared well in advance of any actions on the ground. Building Information Modelling is also being used to increase the richness of the data. These developments are reducing the likelihood of ‘nasty surprises', and helping to identify and iron out potential problems in critical operations such as complex and heavy lifts. For underwriters this means being able to have a clear view of what has been planned at a point before any work has actually commenced.

The importance of high quality visual information in the underwriting process means we are now, more than ever, able to gain an enhanced understanding of remote, large scale and complex engineering risks.

For further information on the photo competition click here.