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How will ‘while you’re out’ deliveries affect home insurance?

At a glance

  • A number of retailers now offer ‘in-home’ delivery services – shopping is delivered to the customer’s property and packed away while they’re out
  • The service is made possible by smart lock technology, which gives delivery drivers a temporary access code to enter the property
  • We discuss the potential risk implications of in-home deliveries

Online shopping has transformed the retail experience over the last decade – whether it’s customers visiting websites to ‘click and collect’, or to have goods delivered to their door.

In a quest for ever greater convenience, some retailers now offer customers the option of having items delivered and packed away inside their homes while they are out, using smart lock technology.

Waitrose is trialing a home delivery service called While You’re Away. The company installs a free smart lock on the doors of participating customers. Delivery drivers then get a temporary key code to access the customer’s home and put away their shopping. Amazon is doing something similar with its Amazon Key service.

What are the risks of in-home deliveries?

While many customers might welcome the greater flexibility offered by in-home delivery services, there are also potential risk implications, for example:

• Theft
• Accidental damage to property
• Malicious/criminal damage
• Injury to a delivery driver (e.g. a trip or slip), which could lead to a personal injury claim

Theft could be a particularly grey area. In order to reassure customers, some companies make their drivers wear chest-mounted cameras to record video footage of each home visit – footage which customers can access on request. However, experts have suggested this system is not fool-proof.

In a recent article, Brian Brown, head of insight at research firm Defaqto, said: “I can see lots of potential issues. What’s to stop the driver letting an accomplice into the property, as chest cameras only show a forward view? What if the driver doesn’t close the door properly? What if the driver picks up a key from inside the house which is later used to commit a burglary?”

In addition, there have also been concerns that smart locks could be vulnerable to hackers (see this article on Amazon Key).

How could ‘while you’re out’ deliveries affect home insurance?

Customers will understandably want to know how their insurer might respond to a claim made in circumstances such as those outlined above.

The short answer is that most insurers will treat incidents on a case by case basis.

While in-home delivery services are relatively new, there are other circumstances in which a homeowner might give a key to somebody other than a friend or family member – a cleaner, builder, decorator or house-sitter, for example.

While allowing unsupervised access to a home would not necessarily result in a subsequent claim being rejected, insurers will want to know what reasonable precautions were taken to prevent the loss occurring.

Such precautions could include:

• Only allowing access to reputable firms and checking their credentials, e.g. through online reviews
• Wherever possible, keeping high-value items out of view, or preferably locked in a safe
• Identifying and remedying potential trip/slip hazards, e.g. loose carpet or items left on stairs

There could be further issues for customers to consider before granting retailers unsupervised access to their home using smart lock technology. For example:

• If video footage of the visit is available, how long is it kept for? This could be an important consideration if, for example, valuables are discovered missing several days later

• Do you understand how the temporary access codes work? For example, how are they time-limited? Could a driver leave a property and return later that day without their camera, or give the code to an accomplice?

• How safe/reliable is the smart lock you are using? What are its security credentials?

While in-home delivery is still in its infancy, it is important that customers are fully aware of the implications of using such services, and that they speak to their insurer if they have any concerns about the potential impact on their home insurance policies.

Image © Getty

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