Using Smart Tech to Save on Your Home Insurance
By Jon Snyder
It’s 2018, and each day you likely come across news on the rapid advance of technology in nearly every industry. In the auto world, autonomous cars have logged a million miles on public roads, and industry experts predict that you might see these vehicles pulling up next to you by 2022. The internet of things (IoT) allows communication between computing devices and common items such as watches and appliances. But the IoT can also function to protect one of the largest assets you own: your home.
Among the many smart systems available to homeowners, some help you save energy (and a few bucks) through the remote programming of thermostats and even light bulbs. Heating and lighting systems can also be programmed from your mobile phone — just about anywhere at any time. But what if you employed technology inside your home that had the ability to avert a major disaster and save you money at the same time? It might be easier than you think.
Protecting Your Home From Within
Installing these key smart home devices can help protect your family and spare your home and its contents from harm:
Smart water leak detection
Picture this: On the second day of a beach vacation, your neighbor calls. When he dropped off your mail, he noticed a few inches of water on the first floor, covering the hardwood and area rugs. Stop leaks before they get out of hand by installing an electronic leak detection system. These devices can sense water spewing or trickling from pipes or fixtures. At the first sign of moisture, they send a notification to your smartphone, then shut off the main valve within five seconds.
Smart smoke detectors
These Wi-Fi-connected devices help you act quicker in a fire emergency.The detectors use ultra-sensitive monitors to detect smoke. They can even sense a rise in temperature caused by faulty electrical circuits or malfunctioning appliances. When the alarm goes off, the system sends push notifications to every member of your family and alerts the local fire department.
Smart home security
Smart security systems use internet-connected cameras to monitor your home 24/7. You can access the cameras at any time via your smartphone. Most systems also send you an alert when they detect unusual motion. Got a lot of land to monitor? Home security companies now deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to act as flying sentinels, rushing to the spot of unexpected vibrations or loud noises. If burglars are anywhere on the premises — near the main dwelling, a detached garage or a pool house — UAVs emit light as well as audible and wireless alerts and record video of the event.
How Do You Get Started?
As with any other new project, do your homework. Some devices are straightforward to install — for instance, a wireless security camera just needs to be placed in the right spot. However, for leak detectors that connect to plumbing and smoke alarms that are hardwired into your home, professional installation is best. Unless installing electronic devices is your main gig, it’s best to seek the services of a licensed, fully insured contractor.
As an alternative, you can subscribe to a security service that handles equipment installation and continuous monitoring. Most home security companies have now added smart detection systems to their repertoire. For a monthly fee tied to the level of service, these providers offer complete package solutions that cover all aspects of the systems.
How Can You Save Money?
Along with peace of mind, the added bonus of utilizing smart home systems comes in the form of insurance discounts. For decades, insurers have been rewarding customers with homeowners policy discounts related to common safety practices.
Since installing smart systems in your house could lead to reduced claims, you'll be eligible for claims-free discounts, and sometimes more. If you plan on installing smart home technology, be sure to see if your new connected devices help shave some dollars off your home insurance costs.
Who Should You Contact?
It’s pretty simple to find out whether your home's smart safety systems qualify for a policy discount — just give your home insurer a call to speak with a licensed agent. You might need to provide a certificate of installation from a licensed contractor (or a monthly bill from your service provider) as proof that your home is equipped with smart safety systems.
The Bottom Line
Using smart technology in your home doesn’t require that you be a computer programmer. Software developers and device manufacturers always design with user-friendliness in mind. Don't be afraid to experiment! After all, installing smart fire, security and water leak detection systems could offer major safety upgrades to your home and even save you a couple bucks on your homeowners insurance.
Jon Snyder is a Product Manager at Esurance overseeing countrywide design of property insurance products. Jon has over 25 years of industry experience in product management, design and management roles as well as claims roles at Esurance and other major industry carriers.