Less than a decade ago, it was estimated that only 0.5% of homes in the U.S. were equipped with connected smart devices such as security systems, appliances, entertainment, and heating/cooling. By 2018, this number is expected to reach nearly 13%, with an average of six devices per home.
Community Insurance Group has seen this growing trend firsthand – more and more people are buying homes already equipped with smart devices or they are making their own additions to create connected living spaces.
What is a smart home?
The main benefits of home automation are savings of time and money, in addition to added convenience. For example, a smart thermostat such as the Nest, knows when you are away. It uses sensors and your phone’s location to check if you’ve left, then sets itself to an economy setting to save energy. Pretty cool, huh?
Ring has a smart doorbell that allows you to use your smartphone to see who is at your door without ever leaving the couch. With a built-in microphone and speaker, you can even leave instructions for the UPS guy remotely from your office.
You can even talk to some devices, like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. They can play music, create shopping lists, order movies to watch, or control the lighting in your home if connected to other smart devices.
While many of these fall under the “gadget” or convenience category, what about technology that may affect your insurance rates?
Home security has traditionally been an expensive venture that often requires professional installation and monitoring. Those days are gone. There are many DIY options available on the market today, and are less expensive than you may think.
- Are you looking for a full system with window, door, and motion sensors, or are you just looking for a security camera system?
- How important is wireless to you?
- Be sure to leave room to grow and expand your system down the road.
- Do you want remote access from smart devices?
Which system you install can have an impact on the level of discount you receive (if any) on your homeowner’s insurance. More than likely, a system that is connected to an alarm that notifies authorities automatically will offer the largest discount.
Before choosing a system, discuss your options with your insurance professional to see what discounts you may qualify for.
Yes, even smoke alarms have gotten smarter. Devices like the Halo+ have more advanced sensors to avoid false alarms, built-in CO2 detection, can broadcast important NOAA weather alerts, and have a 10-year backup battery.
No matter what type of smoke alarms you choose for your home, always make sure to:
- Test the alarm monthly
- Replace the battery annually
- Clean with vacuum cleaner annually
Most insurance companies offer discounts for having multiple smoke alarms in your home. There should be a smoke alarm in the kitchen as well as near any sleeping area.
Digital door locks are a relatively new product that eliminate the need to have a set of keys to unlock your home. No more running to the hardware store to make copies of keys or the hassle of replacing locks if keys are lost.
These smart devices operate via wi-fi, Bluetooth, or RFID reader and also typically have Android or iOS apps. Try to avoid digital locks with keypads – criminals can use a keylogger program and hack the lock. Instead, look at devices like the August Smart Lock and Kwikset Kevo.
Insurance companies have traditionally been slow adopters of technology, so you probably won’t find any smart lock discounts yet. However, most insurance companies do offer a discount for deadbolt locks – which you may be receiving already. If you are considering smart locks, be sure check with your agent to make sure that digital deadbolts also receive a discount.