Home Insurers Moving Toward ‘Smart’ Devices

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  • Detroit now faces different auto insurance challenges

    In recent years, the auto insurance industry seems to have been in the early stages of a technological revolution. More consumers are starting to get involved with “smart” trackers that monitor their driving habits and, potentially, lower their monthly premiums significantly. Now, it seems that this trend could soon hit the home insurance market as well, and potentially provide mutual benefit to both homeowners and their insurers. Certainly, this is something that agents will have to monitor closely going forward, and also educate their clients about the ways in which these new options might end up being helpful to them.

    Some major home and auto insurances companies recently began offering “smart” smoke detectors to some of their policyholders as a means of helping them to keep their costs down while also providing critical information to the insurer, according to a report from the Boston Globe. These devices detect not only smoke, but also carbon monoxide, and then share data with the policy issuer through a Wi-Fi connection. The practical upshot is that consumers would save an average of about $52 annually for their coverage, about 5 percent.

    Why is this being done?
    Even to this day, fire is one of the biggest causes of losses for home insurers, the report said. These incidents alone caused more than $19 billion in damage in 2013 – the most recent year for which data was available – and amounted to about 30 percent of all losses. In addition, these incidents are often related to faulty smoke detectors, or those whose batteries have died, and that’s some of the basic data the new “smart” detectors will transmit.

    Specifically, the devices will send data back to the manufacturer – rather than directly to the insurer – about things like whether the batteries are properly installed and charged, whether the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order, and whether the home’s Wi-Fi connection is strong. This could serve useful for both insurers and clients, because the former will get a better idea of their risk, and the latter might be able to be warned if things potentially become dangerous.

    "Smart" smoke detectors may put insurers and consumers alike on high alert to new risks.“Smart” smoke detectors may put insurers and consumers alike on high alert to new risks.

    What’s next?
    Right now, the insurers involved are only allowing policyholders in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to sign up, the report said. However, if it proves successful and popular, the programs will almost certainly be rolled out to consumers in other states later on this year.

    The more insurance agents can do to help clients understand all the coverage options available to them, including those that can keep costs down, the better off they and those consumers are likely to be. That’s because an educated policyholder is more likely to be a happy one; studies show that a strong knowledge and good relationship can help consumers to generally feel better about their plans than they would otherwise. Meanwhile, better relationships will typically mean improved customer satisfaction ratings, and even higher client retention rates for agents to enjoy going forward.