McQuiston: Can Your Smart Phone Help Lower Your Insurance Premiums?

By ALLEN MCQUISTON
The Jemez Agency
 
As we end the holiday season and look forward to the new year, I took a few days off to relax and some spend time with my family. 
 
It also allowed me some time to watch a little TV. Man are there a lot of ads running around the holidays. But one of the ads caught my attention. You might have seen it. A bad guy rings the doorbell and through the product advertised and a smart phone, the homeowner was able to “verbally” answer the door and thwart the bad guy. These home safety devices that let you check in on your house using your phone are marketed to consumers as adding piece of mind.
 
After all, you can see the security camera feeds, the smoke detector battery life and the water leak detector fail-safes among other features from wherever you are.
 
But what the Internet enabled gadgets don’t offer consumers (yet) is a significant reduction on their insurance premiums, it seems. Insurers have pushed back against the argument that these devices mean home insurance claims are less likely to happen and therefore premiums should be cheaper.
 
But, Insurance Business has reported on similar devices being used in cyber-attacks because, though their primary function is to keep homeowners safe, the devices themselves can lack cybersecurity measures and have served as a gateway for hackers. Research estimates there will be $79 million shipments of smart-home devices sent to homeowners by the end of 2016.
 
The same organization expects that number to reach $360 million by 2020.
 
Basic security devices, like smoke detectors, have earned homeowners lower premiums for some years. Now the question is if the online capabilities of these new devices, providing instant updates, warrant further reduced fees. We shall see.
 
A handful of insurance companies offer some lowered premiums for smart home devices. However, the average premium for a US household is projected to rise to $1,293 in 2017, that’s up 5.5 percent from 2016 and a 61 percent jump compared to 2006, according to the Insurance Information Institute. As always, I suggest you speak with your insurance professional to make sure you have all of the discounts you qualify for.
 
In closing, I wish everyone a safe, happy and prosperous new year.  017 will mark the 53rd year The Jemez Agency has been serving the folks of Los Alamos. A big thank you for that.
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