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Can smart tech keep your customers safe?

At a glance

  • By 2020 it’s estimated there will be between 20 billion and 100 billion smart devices connected to the internet
  • We take a look at innovative smart technologies helping your customers feel safe at home
  • We’ll shortly begin a trial partnership with a smart home security provider, to help your customers protect their home

In the UK, nearly another one million homes became smarter during the course of 2015, with four million UK households now having some form of Smart Home system.

Today, there are around 14 billion everyday objects connected to the internet, and industry analysts expect this to increase to anywhere between 20 billion and 100 billion in the next four years. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the use of smart technology are increasingly being suggested as ways to help tackle household risks such as fire, flood and burglaries.

With the IoT likely to become even more established in the coming years, we look at how smart home technologies can help your Personal Lines customers feel safe at home.

1. Home risk detection

According to the Association of British Insurers, escape of water claims make up 21% of domestic insurance claims and fire 13%.

If a person is away from their home, they may not be aware of, or be able to protect against these threats before they cause significant damage. Fortunately, a number of smart detectors are now available to allow your customers to detect these risks and protect their homes more effectively.

Homeowners no longer have to rely on a neighbour to notify them if they hear their smoke alarm. Instead, smart detectors can detect smoke, toxic fumes or high carbon monoxide levels and send an immediate notification to the owner’s smart phone, including specific details about the potential problems it has identified.

If something happens when customers are away from home, some detectors can even be pre-set to notify a neighbour for a non-emergency, call the emergency services in the event of an emergency, or perform other complex tasks (such as turning off the water mains) when integrated with other smart devices.

Home protection scenario: A homeowner could be informed of an escape of water while out of the house, by smart detectors monitoring humidity levels.

2. Accessibility from anywhere in the world

Using smart technology, homeowners can monitor and control access to their homes from anywhere in the world.

With smart doorbells, homeowners are notified remotely when they have a visitor. Some also allow two-way video conversations, and others can be set to record a video of anyone who comes to the doorstep.

Smart locks go one step further, by allowing users to actually control their door lock remotely and even issue virtual keys to their guests’ smartphones.

Home protection scenario: If a leak is detected while a homeowner is on holiday, they can grant a plumber a virtual key to access the property, speak with them on the doorstep and be notified when they leave.

3. Security and monitoring


There were an estimated 743,000 incidents of domestic burglary in the year ending September 2015 according to the Office of National Statistics Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

Homeowners could traditionally choose burglar alarms or closed circuit television to protect their homes against intruders. However, a new generation of internet protocol (IP) cameras are gaining in popularity, thanks to their relative low-cost, ease of installation and range of additional features.

IP cameras allow for real-time video monitoring, with most notifying users when movement is detected and automatically sending a video clip via email or a dedicated app. Many also feature alarm sounds or two-way audio functionality to scare off intruders at the touch of a button.

Home protection scenario: To avoid false alarms and the need to set the device each time homeowners leave, the latest IP camera technologies will actually learn a home’s normal movements, activate and deactivate when appropriate, and only notify users of irregular activity, providing options of the action to take.

What about cyber risks?

As more and more devices become connected to the internet, there is also an increase in potential exposure to cyber risks, such as hacking and data theft. With 70% of IoT devices suspected to have cyber security vulnerabilities, it’s important that homeowners select smart devices with high cyber security standards.

Cocoon’s all-in-one security system, for example, processes audio and video data on the device itself, sending only encrypted data to external devices. Small considerations such as this can go a long way to minimising potential cyber risks, ensuring that smart devices such as smart phones effectively manage risks in the home, without introducing new ones.

Working in partnership

With this rise in the use of smart technologies in UK households, there is an opportunity for you to offer advice to your customers on their safety features and to help them understand the possible insurance implications.

For more information on the use of smart devices to manage risk, please speak with your local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

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