6 Ways our homes are becoming ‘smarter’ and why insurers must understand this tech

21st January 2020

Our homes are getting smarter. This means that the technology that we’re fitting within our homes is becoming better with improved functionality. We’re no longer fitting gadgets to simply turn our lights on and off. Instead, we’re using smart technology to help improve our security, use of energy and for disabled people it gives them the ability to retain their independence.  

There are several devices that are becoming increasingly popular, including:

  1. Smart doorbells

Doorbells no longer merrily belt out a tune when someone comes to visit. Nowadays popular gadgets like Amazon’s Ring allow homeowners to see who is at the door through cameras and the use of an app. Speakers allow homeowners to talk to the person at the door, even if they’re away on holiday.

They’ve recently garnered some negative attention though over concerns about the devices being targeted by hackers. Last year there were reports from homeowner John Baker Orange claiming that the Ring he purchased had been hacked. Apparently there was a voice encouraging his children playing in the garden to come closer to the camera.

If this is true, it’s likely that Ring and its competitors will improve their technology to prevent such further hacking incidents. The tech is therefore likely to stay and become more popular, especially as a tool to prevent break-ins and identify criminals.

  1. Smart door locks

The traditional key’s days may be numbered with the increasing interest in smart door locks. These allow people to gain access to homes digitally.

Of course, there are some insurers who prefer to have homeowners change their doors to ones that they approve of, such as five-lever mortice deadlocks. But with the rising popularity in remote door lock tech, there’ll be lots of updates to homeowners’ manuals to include approved smart door lock providers. Of course, this will need to specify whether policies will be void if homeowners give others access via the apps.

  1. Smart lightbulbs

This month Ring has just announced that it will be expanding its smart lighting portfolio. It’s only a matter of time before these products will feature in all our homes. Smart light bulbs give homeowners the ability to operate lights via voice control or an app.

This is very handy for those who go away on business or holidays regularly. Insurers should reward customers who opt for this feature as it can give the impression that the home is occupied, particularly if the app is regularly accessed to control the light switches at home.

  1. Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats such as British Gas’ Hive, Google’s Nest and Tado enable homeowners to control their heating on the go as well. It’s easy to access and control the temperature of the home from an app on the phone, tablet or other device.

Some additional features of smart thermostats may include maintenance reminders and high energy consumption alerts. While they may not make direct insurance savings, they can certainly prevent or reduce claims, especially if the maintenance reminders are adhered to.

  1. Smart alarms

Just like smart doorbells, smart alarms offer a degree of protection to a home as they send an alert if an intruder enters the house through a door or a window.

It makes sense here for insurers to offer discounts on premiums if homeowners install this type of tech because it’s been proven to reduce the chance of intrusion.

Some insurers already offer discounts of between 2-15%, according to Which?. If your company hasn’t passed on this type of saving then this incentive is something to consider, particularly as smart alarms become more popular.

  1. Smart kitchen gadgets

This can include anything from coffee machines that come on at a certain time to smart fridges that can enable homeowners to view their food while they’re out and about.

These gadgets are useful if homeowners prefer to know what they’ve run out of while they’re shopping in the store or like to have fresh, hot coffee on arrival at home.

They may not have any initially obvious benefits for insurance companies, but they could help to save on energy consumption.

Why should the insurance industry pay attention?

Ultimately, insurers should pay attention to smart devices because they’re becoming popular as more people adopt them in their homes. They’re convenient and offer peace of mind and security.

While some may just be flashy devices which are show-worthy when guests arrive, others could make a difference when it comes to saving the planet. And with more people aligning their pockets with companies that have green credentials, these energy-saving devices can’t be ignored.

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