Smart home devices can reduce the risk of filing a claim, which is why home insurance companies often provide incentives, like discounts, if you install them.
That's just one of the reasons smart homes are all the rage right now. The state-of-the-art devices within them let us connect and communicate with various aspects of our houses using our smartphones. Also, most smart homes include advanced security systems that utilize cameras, motion sensors and a link to public safety.
In other words, smart devices can help protect your home and save you money on homeowners insurance.
Our comprehensive guide to smart home technology includes:
Smart home insurance discounts
Because smart home technology can keep your home more secure, many insurance companies incentivize homeowners to install it by providing discounts. If your home has qualifying smart home technology, you could save on your home insurance premium.
Some examples of smart home devices include:
- Frontpoint security system
- Theft protection devices
- Fire protection devices
Most insurers offer a home security discount for these and other devices. A few insurance companies that offer discounts include State Farm, Progressive, Farmers, and USAA. If you have a smart home device, contact your home insurance provider to see if you qualify for any discounts.
Smart home tech basics
Connected or smart home technology allows people to communicate and interact with their houses using computers, smartphones or tablets through an internet connection.
Typical actions enabled by smart home tech include:
- Activating alarms
- Adjusting thermostats
- Controlling appliances
- Locking and unlocking doors
- Programming security systems
- Turning lights on and off
- Capturing surveillance video footage
Additionally, smart home technology sends alerts and real-time data to users, which can minimize loss of life in an emergency and keep your home protected.
Smart home technology products
Below are some of the products available to make your home smarter.
Timed lighting devices can turn on or off lights in houses, condos or apartments. They "give the appearance of home occupation," says Tim Lynch, Ph.D., founder and president of Psychsoft Consulting in Quincy, Mass.
David Bakke, an insurance expert, states, "if you purchase a product that will automatically turn your lights on and off at preset times during the day, you'll be less of a target for a home burglary."
Door and window sensors
Monitoring access points to your home is as easy as looking at your phone. You can get an alert if a window or door is opened.
Smart locks allow homeowners to quickly and easily gain access to their homes. Entry can be made via smartphones, Bluetooth key fobs or metal keys. Some allow guest access using electronic keys (or eKeys) that only work on specific days and times.
Smart thermostats lower energy bills. They can be pre-programmed or controlled remotely. They also provide alerts on your phone if your home gets too hot or cold.
Some smart thermostats have a learning algorithm. They can predict which temperatures are ideal based on past usage and program them using that information.
Smart smoke detectors
The latest technology detects smoke, fire and carbon monoxide, and can communicate to your smartphone while you're away. They also let you know when to change batteries.
Water and flood sensors
Leaks that go undetected by homeowners or renters can be costly and destructive. Now you can buy sensors for areas where leaks may occur, like around dishwashers, washing machines or under sinks.
Video doorbells allow you to see the person at your doorstep. They also have recording capabilities and can allow you to talk to whoever is at your door.
Why you should care about smart home tech
Smart home devices can save you money on home insurance, but more importantly they can protect your home by mitigating disasters and preventing burglaries. Below are a few reasons why you should consider smart home technology.
It's a lot cheaper than it used to be
As Bakke points out, "there are several different smart home products on the market for less than $100."
Adds Miller: "Once upon a time, it would cost thousands of dollars and require a professional to install smart home technology. Now retailers and e-tailers sell DIY smart home devices that make it easy for homeowners to make their home smart."
It's often easy to install and use
Most of the technology available can be installed by homeowners. There are more open source options than ever before. Many don't require special wiring and are WiFi based. Simply plug in the device between the power outlet and the device to be controlled.
It prevents and minimizes damage
This is a major selling point for upgrading your home. In addition, you'll feel safer and more secure whether you're at home or on the road.
It can lower your energy bills
Controlling lights and temperature can save you money. Forgot to turn off the lights? No problem. With remote control options, you can save energy, which saves you money.
Are smart home devices worth it?
Smart home devices have many benefits. They can lower the chances of filing a claim. If you're only looking to purchase smart home devices for a discount on your home insurance premium, then you should contact your insurer to see how much you would save.
Even with all the potential benefits, smart home technology can have issues. Specifically, questions remain regarding how secure some products are. Connected-home devices can be hacked. They may also be unreliable if you have issues with your WiFi. Despite the disadvantages, smart home devices can provide security, convenience and give you peace of mind.
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