Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, can be an indispensable part of an investigation. UAVs can be a critical tool in obtaining data, images, and other vital information that cannot be safely or affordably observed at ground level. However, UAVs are strictly prohibited for the purpose of surveillance without the consent of the individual or property being documented. This course will examine how to legally utilize UAVs to enhance investigations. This course will also review FAA regulations and Oklahoma State guidelines that govern general drone usage and the legal usage of UAVs in investigative work. This course will examine the reasons that investigators cannot use drones for investigative purposes as well.

Purpose of Course

Sales of consumer drones have spiked since 2016. The ownership of many drones is regulated by weight, classification, and purpose of usage. This course will educate the investigator about the use legal use of drones. We will also examine the illegal practices that are not available to private investigators in the State of Oklahoma.  This course will explain the pitfalls in terms of liability and constantly changing regulations.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the history and basic terminology of drone ownership and piloting
  2. Understand the non-recreational applications of drones
  3. Understand the requirements to fly for business and FAA rules governing the use of drones
  4. Examine ways in which insurance companies can streamline workflow using drones
  5. Assess how drones can improve claims adjuster safety (fewer occupational health and hazard issues)
  6. Analyze how the use of drones produces reliable results
  7. Understand laws relating to privacy and public/private airspace
  8. Identify and cite state regulations, licensing procedures, and restrictions
  9. Become familiar with upcoming changes to drone-related laws and regulations

History and Terminology

  1. What is a UAV / drone?  
  2. Is a drone an aircraft? What are the different classifications of aircraft?
  3. History and evolution of drones
  4. History of drones timeline

UAV Operations and Applications

  1. The evolution of U.S. modern drones can be understood through the passage of five overlapping phases
  2. Generally, UAVs / drones can be used for three types of activities: 
  1. Recreational;
  2. Commercial;
  3. Surveillance and military

Further non-recreational and non-commercial drone applications (source:

  1. Civil security – operations against looters;
  2. Assessing damage on private or public property;
  3. Coastal monitoring for civil security;
  4. Accessing remote areas with medicines or supplies needed;
  5. Surveillance of illegal activities to safeguard civil security;
  6. Monitoring natural disasters;
  7. Protection against illegal mining;
  8. Rapid evaluation of traffic accidents or train crashes;
  9. Searches for missing persons;
  10. Anti-terror operations;
  11. Crime identification;
  12. Fire scene inspections;
  13. Agricultural surveillance and risk mitigation.

State Surveillance Laws

Oklahoma. There are no state laws addressing the legality of using UAVs for the purpose of conducting surveillance on an individual. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for regulating drones in the state of Oklahoma. 

  1. HB2599 (2016).  An Act relating to unmanned aircraft; defining terms; prohibiting operation of an unmanned aircraft over a critical infrastructure facility; excepting conduct of specified entities or persons; prescribing punishment for violation; providing for codification; and providing an effective date. 
  2. SB659 (2021). Unmanned Aircraft Systems Development Act of 2021. 

Requirements to fly for business/FAA Rules Governing Use

  1. In general, the FAA rules for drones depend on the type of device and why you want to fly it.
  1. Hobby Use
  2. Commercial Use FAA Rules Governing Use
    1. Pilot Requirements 
    2. Safety and Efficiency Benefits of Drone usage
    3. Changing the way adjusting is performed
      1. Drones are a better alternative to placing individuals in potentially harmful situations. 
    4. Portability, Navigation, and Ability
    5. High-Resolution videos and photos.

Considerations for Drone Use by Insurance Companies- Streamlining

  1. Risk Assessment / Personal & Commerical Properties
  2. Risk Monitoring / Value
  3. Risk Prevention
  • Claims, Accidents, and Disasters

The insurance industry sees drones as a game-changer, alongside predictability analytics, big data, and the use of artificial intelligence to improve processes.

Improving safety – fewer occupational health and hazard issues

Some of the most noticeable applications of UAVs in the insurance industry include:

  1. Liability claims;
  2. Insurance companies can dispatch a drone to the scene within an hour and, in the event of more remote locations, they can reach the zone in just a couple of hours; 

Property Assessment:  Roof Inspections

  1. Drones come with software that can determine a roof’s pitch. Proper utilization of this software can diminish fall risks and give insurance agencies a chance to review pictures and videos as often as needed to spot missed details. 

Property Fire

  1. Thermal sensors can be used to show water damage on roofs (some roofs are soft, and someone can slip through).
  2. Improvement in Reliability
  1. Customer service – Instead of telling the client about hard-to-see sports, you can show them in real-time or through HD photographs and videos.

Enable Accurate Fast Decision Making

  • What are the benefits of having a drone ready in dangerous or time-sensitive situations?

Privacy Concerns

FAA and Privacy – New Rules for Drones

  • Public trust in UAS – concerns over privacy and intrusive surveillance
  • The legality of photography and videography with drones

Who has Jurisdiction Over Privacy in Airspace?

  • Public and private airspace

Geomapping / Risk Zones

Drones can safely enter extreme situations that claim agents cannot, like a burned-out property or biological hazard zone. 

Surveying Zones

  1. At 2 cm/pixel resolution, UAVs deliverables lead the industry in cost-effectiveness and precision. Whether the project is a 100-mile pipeline inspection, mining volume calculation, or a vegetation/crop diagnosis, a competent team of UAV pilots can quickly and safely provide assessments quickly and inexpensively. Turn-around time can range from real-time to a few hours.
  2. Industries that can benefit from the use of drones:
  1. Insurance
  2. Medical industry
  3. Mining
  4. Oil and Gas
  5. Agriculture
  6. Infrastructure
  7. Emergency and disaster

Drone Licensing and Regulations in Oklahoma

  1. Becoming drone pilot licensed
    1. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) 
    2. Complete the FAA Part 107 Drone Pilot Test (Unmanned Aircraft General – Small)
    3. Obtain a remote pilot certificate
    4. Keep your certification current every twenty-four (24) calendar months
  2. Familiarize yourself with state and local regulations (Oklahoma regulations listed below): 
    1. HB2599 (2016)
    2. SB659 (2021)

Looking to the Future

Remote ID – A future requirement for drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams). It will act as an electronic license plate for drones. 

Course Information

Adult Education Methods Utilized

  • Downloadable handouts
  • Narrated slides
  • Case Studies

Textbook and Course Materials

  • Articles
  • On-demand video
  • Downloadable materials
  • Certificate of Completion

Course Requirements

  • Internet connection (DSL, LAN, or cable connection desirable)
  • Access to the internet
  • Ability to use a personal computer

Course Offerings

  • Certificate of Completion
  • 60-day unlimited course access

Course Structure

This course will be delivered online through the website. Participants will use website credentials to log in and access their accounts. The course will be broken down into modules for self-paced learning. Access is limited to 60 days. Following completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of completion for Continuing Education Credits and licensing renewal. *Make sure this course is approved by your state for licensing renewal.

  • This course will be delivered online through a course management website named
  • To access this course online, you will need to access the Internet and a supported Web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.

Technical Assistance

If you require technical assistance at any time during the course or to report a problem: