Canadian Underwriter

Smart home technology can be used to reduce potential claims from inclement weather, other risks: Allstate Canada

March 17, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Smart home technology can serve as a prevention tool for homeowners looking to reduce potential damage related to exposure to the elements, with Allstate Canada reporting Thursday a company review of home claims reveals almost one in four are related to wind and hail.

Smart home technology among the tools to combat claims

The claims data for Canada shows 38% of all home claims reported to the insurer between 2010 and 2015 were caused by wind and hail, notes a blog by Glen King, director of product development and underwriting research for Allstate Canada’s Enterprise Risk Management department, the first in a series called Future Forward.

“Devices to help protect your home, such as water leak sensors and programmable thermostats, fall into the family of smart home technology,” King writes of the technology, which he defines as automated devices, appliances and systems in the home that are connected and centrally controlled.

“If you have a device that’s powered by electricity, it may be connected to a home network to respond to your command whether that’s through voice, remote control, smartphone or tablet,” he explains.

To mitigate wind and hail damage, it is suggested that homeowners can consider smart home devices that provide up-to-date forecasts, such as notifications of wind, hail and snow warnings in the person’s area.

Of course, it is not just wind and hail that are of concern. The company review found that water events resulted in 23% of home claims submitted to Allstate Canada from 2010 to 2015.

“This is one of the biggest and most expensive issues a homeowner can face. Water intrusion can be the result of anything from frozen pipes bursting to an appliance leaking – and it can be very difficult to prevent, especially in older homes or homes in colder climates,” King points out. “The good news is that with the evolution of smart home devices, such as digital water leak sensors, you can potentially prevent big problems by limiting the damage of water intrusion with early alerts,” he writes.

Allstate Canada adds that smart thermostats will also allow homeowners to monitor and adjust the inside temperature of their homes when away.

Beyond inclement weather and the potential resulting damage, the blog notes the risk of theft should also be top-of-mind for homeowners. “This is particularly true when considering the fact that theft has been the third most common type of home insurance claim submitted to Allstate Canada between 2010 and 2015,” King notes. He recommends taking a proactive, not reactive, approach by considering using smart home technologies as a deterrent, including cameras that show real-time images inside and outside the home, motion sensors that can provide an alert of unusual activity, and lighting systems set on randomized timers to turn lights on and off when away from the residence.

Smart home technologies may also offer promise with regard to other risks, including fire, sun damage and extreme cold.

“Smart household devices are not merely a fad or fleeting trend. They represent a widely accepted movement towards decreasing stress and the costs of owning a home, while providing safety and security for you and your family,” King writes, adding he expects that with the Internet of Things, there will be an increase of geolocation products that can be integrated into smart home devices.

“With geolocation capabilities, you’ll be able to identify the location of a person or a device through digital information that’s being processed from the Internet. With this, security alarms will become more sophisticated with features that can set themselves and heating systems that can adjust on their own based on an individual’s habits and times they leave their home,” he reports.

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