Technology has already changed the way we work and play, but new electronic devices can also change the way we protect our homes (see An Intro to Usage-Based Auto Insurance and Telematics to find out how it's also revolutionizing auto insurance).
Home automation isn't a pie-in-the-sky idea best left to science fiction writers. Many homeowners already make use of it, and a growing number are interested in the convenience, effectiveness, and lower cost offered by smart devices.
What Are Smart Devices?
Smart devices are electronic devices that connect to a network, usually through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a dedicated cellular connection. They allow you to tap into the device’s data, send commands, and receive alerts from afar using a computer, smartphone, tablet, or wearable device.
Besides the obvious advantages of remote access, smart devices also provide information very quickly and often before an issue becomes serious. As the popularity of smart devices grows, prices drop steadily, making cutting-edge technology available to the average homeowner.
Smart Devices Can Help You Save on Insurance
Some insurance companies offer discounts for connected home monitoring equipment. And as the technology goes mainstream and the market for smart devices grows, consumers can expect to see even more opportunities for discounts on their premiums.
Houses outfitted with safety features reduce the likelihood that the homeowner files a claim for burglary or vandalism. Home monitoring systems can also perform various maintenance tasks, which goes a long way to preventing damage to the property. That lowers the insurance company's risk and they're often willing to reward you for it.
Ask your insurer whether they have any perks for policyholders that outfit their homes with smart devices. The discounts you get could very well make up for the initial cost of buying and installing the equipment.
Smart Devices for Home Protection
So, what can these devices do? Here are some of the most popular ones that could help you protect your home.
Many homeowners are reluctant to shell out money each month for a monitored alarm system, even though they appreciate their effectiveness and convenience. Smart security systems offer many of the same benefits, including notifying you or someone else when there’s a problem. They won't automatically call the police or fire department, but, nonetheless, the total cost often comes up to less than a year of monitored protection.
A smart alarm system is usually easy to install and portable so you can take it with you if you move (see You're Moving! Here's Why You Need Insurance for other moving considerations). And even if you forget to set the alarm before leaving your house, you can do it remotely.
Some manufacturers offer an affordable suite of security products such as motion detectors, cameras, door and window sensors, and power backup, which makes the buying process simple. But you also the option to buy components, build your own system, and customize it to address your most important needs. To tie your devices together, all you need is a wireless networking router and a smart hub that uses a universal app.
Motion sensors are a good first purchase if you want to try out a smart device and see whether it suits your needs and lifestyle. You can install one in a room and program it to send an alert to your smartphone if an unwelcome guest enters.
And it can do more than just send a notification. By pairing a smart motion sensor with lights, you can scare off potential burglars.
Many homeowners already use lights with motion sensors, but smart security lights do much more. They can, of course, turn on whenever someone approaches your home, but you can also program them to stay on if the power goes out or switch on and off at given times while you’re vacationing, inside or outside of your home.
Smart door locks offer added security, because they usually require a key and a key code. Many smart locks also have a built-in alarm in case a burglar tries to jimmy the lock or break down the door.
Install a smart lock on your garage and it can notify you when you forget to shut the door. You can also have it send you a notification whenever someones tampers with it or you can open the door remotely if someone needs to get in.
Someone’s ringing the doorbell, but you’re relaxing in the backyard and have no interest in getting up. No problem! You can use your smartphone to see the person on your front step and talk to them. You can also use the camera on the doorbell to monitor when family members come and go.
Window and Door Sensors
Worried someone might pry open a window while you’re away? Smart sensors will send you a notification if an intruder tries it. You can also set it to activate other devices, like lights, when the magnets on the sensors separate.
Smart surveillance cameras are often so small and well-disguised that no one can spot them. Some use facial recognition technology to distinguish between family members and intruders.
Most shoot high-definition video and use infrared light at night. They’re also very adjustable so you can protect obscure areas.
Water damage is very expensive to repair and it also affects your insurability. Smart leak detectors save you from these costly scenarios by shutting off the water at the first sign of a leak. It will also send a notification to your personal device in under five seconds so you can take immediate action (see 5 Water Damage Home Insurance Scenarios to learn more about water damage and insurance).
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes without working smoke alarms. It can be easy to forget to test your detectors and leave you and your family vulnerable, which is why many smart detectors are designed to self-test.
Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors emit an alarm, send an alert, and locate the threat. You can also integrate these detectors with other smart devices to, for example, shut down your HVAC system to contain smoke and ash. Door locks can also spring open and lights can switch on so you can get out of your house quickly.
Keep Your Smart Safety Devices Secure
Smart technology is still an emerging industry, but it’s growing quickly. If you decide to give it a try, choose products from reputable, long-standing companies who will be around to offer support if you ever have issues with your devices.
Smart technology is only smart if it's affordable, easy to use, and functions well. Take extra care with your smart devices' security features and make sure you keep them updated and use complex passwords. Billions of devices connect through the internet, and you can be vulnerable to privacy breaches if you don't do your part in keeping your information safe.
Fortunately, manufacturers use heavy-duty encryption and if you take reasonable precautions smart devices can provide reliable, comprehensive security for your home.
Smart devices keep your home safer, help protect it from damage, and might even reduce your insurance premiums. By combining peace of mind with cost savings, smart devices are a sound investment.