We all know what it means to be a safe driver — no speeding, using turn signals, not following too closely and simply just driving less. When it comes to homes and homeowners, though, defining who is a “safe homeowner” is not so intuitive. Is it enough to install a security system and lock doors? What about putting a “This home is protected by (insert your choice of home security solution here)” or “Beware of Dog” sign in the yard?
This is a complex question because there are numerous variables. Let’s take a look at three of the primary perils covered by insurance policies — theft, water damage and fire — to review the opportunities for new technologies to reduce risk and ultimately save both the homeowner and insurer time and money.
Secure Doors And Windows
Did you know that it only takes a burglar six seconds and a wire hanger to break into a garage? A quick search on YouTube will show you how to do it, too. It should come as no surprise, then, that burglary is one of the most popular forms of property crime. According to the FBI, victims suffered an estimated $3.6 billion in property losses due to breaking and entering in 2016.
To combat these threats, actions such as closing and locking entrances, windows and garages are generally considered to be safe homeowner behaviors. On their own, these actions certainly provide peace of mind, but remembering to do them consistently can be difficult. For example, we’ve found from our data from at Notion that the odds of a homeowner leaving his garage door open for 12 hours or more on the weekend are 13% higher than during the week, based on data from 400 openers examined over a 12-month period. When you consider a report by Safeguard the World that reveals that almost 30% of burglars enter a home through an unlocked door or window, it becomes more important to understand this behavior so we can create models and trigger actions to promote safer habits.
With a plethora of smart locks, home monitoring sensors and security cameras, homeowners can now create an arsenal of protection against break-ins. Layering professional monitoring services on top, we can really amplify what someone can do to make the home as safe as possible. For example, a report from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology states that 60% of convicted burglars said the presence of a security system had an impact on their decision to target another home. In the near future, the mere installation of these precautionary devices will give insurance providers even more reason to define the homeowner as “safe.”
Prevent Water Damage
Being a safe homeowner isn’t only about burglary prevention. According to the Insurance Information Institute, damage from water and freezing is the number one source of property damage claims, accounting for approximately 45% of damages in 2015. A burst pipe or failed water heater can send thousands of gallons of water flowing across floors in a matter of minutes. Here’s the catch: “Sudden and accidental” damage from a burst pipe may be covered, but most insurance policies don’t actually cover damage resulting from poor maintenance.
Beyond annually checking all of your water pipes as part of regular maintenance, adding some new smart technologies to your repertoire can make this process easier. Some devices detect if there is a leaking pipe and will automatically shut off the main water supply in your home, while others monitor temperature to prevent pipes from freezing in the colder months, preventing costly damage and insurance claims. The data from these devices will eventually inform trends that help both the homeowner and insurer predict these issues before they happen in the first place.
Listen For Alarms From Anywhere
Fires can start in an instant — ready.gov warns that a small flame can turn into a large fire within 30 seconds. While insurance providers already require that homes have a working smoke alarm, who’s there to hear them go off when everyone is at work or out of town for a week? Considering the losses due to residential property damage in 2016 reported by the National Fire Protection Association, this is a nearly $8 billion question.
Enter the new connected home sensors, which allow homeowners to listen for smoke alarms while they’re at work or across the globe. Some products even alert the homeowner when it’s time to change the battery, generating real behavioral change that can make a big difference.
When defining a smart homeowner, insurance providers will look to these technologies to ensure that someone, or rather, something, is there to listen for incoming danger at any point in the day.
This is a condensed version of a piece our CEO and co-founder, Brett, recently published on Forbes. Check out the full story here.