Automated homes, commonly known as “smart homes”, will generate data about your behaviour and security level, and in the near future, this could mean that your insurer will offer you more accurate home contents or buildings insurance premiums based on your levels of risk.
Smart home adoption is on the rise, and technology now makes it possible for homeowners to adjust their music, ambient lighting or home security settings on their cell phones. This is only the beginning.
According to the report “Smart Home Market – Global Forecast to 2024”, the smart home market is estimated to grow from $76.6 billion in 2018 to $151.4 billion by 2024.
The benefits include energy efficiency, systems user functionality, and – of particular interest for South Africans – home security. These can all be controlled from a phone or other mobile devices, allowing remote users to activate alarms, set zones or even check out movement within their property. Risks like water leaks and fire could also be detected by a smart home before they become a problem.
This will have implications for insurance as well. According to Vera Nagtegaal, the executive head of Hippo.co.za, there is a strong likelihood that insurers will start to offer solutions similar to telematics for cars that offer discounted premiums based on responsible behaviour.
“In future, interactive apps might allow you to update your policy details in real time, by, for example, adding a new security feature that will alert you to risky behaviour, such as leaving your window open at night, and this could affect your premium,” she says.
In addition, if smart homes were to evolve in such a way that could prevent risks before they occur, for instance alerting a home owner to a water leak before it becomes a problem, insurance claims will decrease as a result and impact the insurance industry significantly.
“Insurance providers will have to look at new opportunities that are presented by smart home technology,” Nagtegaal explains. “Instead of just focusing on customers’ risks and offering reactive solutions, such as compensation for damage incurred after a pipe burst, for example, insurance value propositions will have to shift. Products should be adapted to provide solutions in real time that are pre-emptive to prevent risks from occurring in the first place.”
One example is the Homies alarm platform by Dutch insurance company Achmea and Accenture, which connects home security systems with neighbours, friends and families to assist each other in case of a fire or burglary.
Of course, full smart home adoption is only in its early stages in South Africa, so innovations like these are a long way off, but insurers are already considering the implications of the availability of this kind of data in future.
“It will ultimately be better for homeowners, who will benefit from the positive ways in which they modify their behaviour in terms of their safety. In addition, insurers would be able to run more efficient risk models and offer more accurate and even affordable solutions to those individuals who use technology to improve their home security,” says Nagtegaal.
All in all, the smart home revolution is likely to create significant benefits for homeowners. But as with every new advance in technology, there will be adoption hurdles to overcome before full and efficient functionality – and home security – is achieved.