The Fast Evolution of Smart Home Technology and Telematics — How They’re Changing Your Life

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In the not-too-distant past, when you went away on holiday, home security meant a neighbour coming over to check that the doors were still locked and the property was undisturbed.

Things certainly have changed, and quickly. The rapid evolution of interconnected smart home technology is revolutionizing how we all maintain, monitor and secure our homes. Real-time, long-distance transmission of computerized information (or informatics) to wireless telecommunications devices – known as telematics – can allow a homeowner to have eyes on their home wherever they are in the world via an app on a smartphone.

Sensors, cameras, motion detectors and door locks allow for 24-hour security monitoring. They can help you prevent or minimize damage from the following hazards:

  • Fire: A security system with a smoke detector can detect rising temperatures and smoke.
  • Flood: With a changing climate comes an increased risk of flooding, especially in the basement of the home. Water damage can be costly and extensive, often requiring new drywall, floors, hardwood, electrical, as well as damage or loss of valuable possessions. A home security system with a flood sensor can detect water infiltration into the home at its earliest stages and some can even help stop it.
  • Frozen pipes: Smart home tech can alert the homeowners when temperatures hit an alarming low, heightening the risk of frozen pipes, which can burst and lead to water damage.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning: A silent, deadly killer, carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odourless gas that can go undetected if there isn’t a carbon monoxide detector on the premises, which can detect any leaks and keep you safe.
  • Other sensors for the home can check for indoor air quality and if the doors and windows are open or closed, as well as controlling the home sound system or in-wall electrical outlets for plug-in devices. You can control in-home devices using your voice via Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa. And with devices in the home you can set up schedules to turn on and off at set times.

The Future of Smart Home Tech

Homes are becoming smarter, safer, healthier, more energy-efficient and sustainable.  At the IFA Next 2022 global tech show in Berlin in September, a big theme was how two years of the pandemic and home restrictions left an indelible mark on how people look at smart home and smart living applications. Global brands showcased the latest products and innovations in consumer electronics and home appliances. One headline that emerged was sensor technology that allows seniors to live more safely in their homes, from lighting systems with motion detectors bedside to water level gauges and radio communications that sound an alarm if any change in daily routines is detected.

At CES 2022, smart home products included a new smart door, which integrates motion-sensing LED welcome lighting, a built-in open and close sensor, a smart lock and video doorbell, all controlled via an app on your phone. Other highlights included the Bosch Spexor, a small device that sits on a counter and is packed with sensors to monitor break-ins, temperature changes and air quality, and which will sound an alarm or send alerts to your phone. The Ring Alarm Glass Break Sensor can detect the sound of glass breaking up to 25 feet away, a valuable alert that lets you know if someone is trying to break into your home.  A new Kidde smoke and CO alarm has WiFi connectivity to give you mobile alerts if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected in your home. Apple HomeKit is an app that lets you to control multiple HomeKit devices from one place, letting you see who’s at the front door, adjust the thermostat or turn the lights off.

Insurance Benefits to a Smart Home

Smart home technology and telematics can help protect your property and the treasured items you care about most. A side benefit is that there could be potential savings on your home insurance policy as well.  When devices such as burglary and/or fire detection systems are installed, you may be eligible for discount(s) which could be even greater depending on how the system alerts the homeowner when there is an issue. For example, individuals with alarm systems that notify a central dispatch could potentially save more than those whose alarm system only notifies their phone.

Since water damage is among the most common insurance claim made by home policy holders, steps to ensure that your home is protected by water damage can lead to savings on premiums. For example, similar to protective devices such as a burglary and/or fire detection system, how you are alerted to water damage will play a factor in terms of how much of a discount you are potentially eligible for. While you may qualify for a discount when you have basic water detection with sensors, you may qualify for even greater savings when you also have a water-entry shutoff feature.

While you can potentially save on insurance premiums through the use of smart security and monitoring devices, it is impossible to quantify the loss of irreplaceable personal items or family heirlooms in a fire, flood, or when there’s theft. Peace of mind and ease of use are among the driving factors in the popularity of telematics and smart home technology.

This information and the opinions expressed in this blog are based on research and interviews with the authorities identified, conducted on behalf of Allstate Canada. They have been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.