How to reduce risk with smart home systems

With home technology on the rise, it’s important to understand what you’re getting with smart home products. Not only are you able to control your house from your phone – these systems can be useful when trying to reduce risk around your home too. Here are some of our favourite home gadgets that can help keep your home safe, plus a few additional questions answered.

Home automation products

With so many smart home products on the market (and more coming out all the time), it can be hard to know where to start. Check out these 8 types of smart home devices to begin (or continue on) your home automation journey:

1. Smart smoke and CO2 detectors
These updated detectors last longer than their battery operated equivalents, and can even test themselves. They’re connected to your phone to let you know if you’re just burning toast in the kitchen, or if there’s an actual emergency. This means that it can tell you what room smoke is coming from, and will even notify the whole family at once.

TIP: Help protect your home by getting familiar with common house fire causes and how you can prevent them.


2. Smart doorbells, locks and cameras

These systems are also connected to your phone, making your front door visible at all times. Smart locks (which can include deadlocks and padlocks) allow you to lock your doors remotely. They also track activity so you can see who has entered or exited your home and when. They make it easier than ever to protect your home from theft – you can even prevent your packages from getting taken from your doorstep! You can also use smart cameras to monitor more than just the outside of your house. Indoor cameras can help to keep you in the loop of what’s going on at home. Smart cameras (both inside and out) can also include a two-way voice feature – letting you chat with whoever’s at your house.

3. Smart alarm systems
Disable alarms, change them from “stay” to “away,” or set your alarm all from your phone. With smart alarm systems there are even options to get notified if any windows or doors are opened, and recognize if it’s your four-legged friends walking around the house. These updated systems also have less intrusive alarm sounds – just in case someone sets it off by accident. However, if something does happen while you’re out, you’ll be notified right to your phone so you can handle the situation right away.

4. Flood sensors
These systems – which are fairly inexpensive – can save you thousands of dollars in potential water damage. Flood sensors detect temperature and water levels to notify you (you guessed it), right to your phone if there’s risk of a flood or if cold temperatures could cause your pipes to freeze. This can help you to take quick action to protect your home from a flood.

5. Smart thermostats
Not only do these save you money by being more energy efficient (they can lower the temperature while you’re away from home or sleeping), they also warn you if the temperature drops too much or if the power goes out.

TIP: Check out these 9 tips to be ready for when a power outage strikes.


6. Smart lights

Smart light bulbs (and smart switches) give you remote control over your home’s lighting, which means you’ll be able to control your lights via your phone. Not only do you no longer have to get up to switch a light off, but you can also set a schedule for your lights for when you’re not home – adding extra security.

7. Smart garage doors
Control opening and closing your garage doors from your phone, get reminders when you’ve left doors open, control who can automatically open and close them, and even monitor them with a video stream. All from one app on your phone!

8. Voice assistants
These systems consolidate all of your smart home tech into one, so you can control everything from your alarm system to your smoke detector with voice commands.

Can I install smart home technology myself or do I need a professional’s help?

This will depend on your comfort level and needs. Many smart devices are easy to set up yourself. However, if you’re not sure which or how many devices you need for your home, there are professional services available. For example, our partners at Turnip Home give you the option to go the DIY route or to opt for the full-service treatment. With their full-service offering, Turnip Home provides a customized solution for your home, professional installation, extra product offerings, and an extended warranty.

TIP: Save on your next Turnip Home purchase with our Sonnet Connect offer!

Will installing smart home products lower my insurance premium?

Not necessarily. Although some insurance providers may offer a discount for having an alarm system, you’ll need to check with your insurer to see if this is something they provide and what the qualifications are. Even if they don’t provide a direct savings on your home premium, smart home technology can help to reduce the chance of a loss (or the amount of damage caused by a loss), which can help with your insurance. This is because keeping a claims free record can help you to save on your coverage.

Are my smart home devices covered by my home policy?

If you own your smart home device, depending on the reason for the loss or damage, it can be covered under your home policy as a personal belonging. Just keep in mind that if you do need to make a claim, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership and will be responsible for paying your policy’s deductible.

What information is this smart home technology gathering?

If you have a personal assistant or a smartphone that controls your other smart home systems, it will be collecting your location, search history, and keep recordings of your voice commands. There are settings where you can restrict these systems from collecting such info, but they claim that your experience with them won’t be as customized or useful to you. It’s best to always read the Privacy Policy for any device that you use.

How can I protect my information?

It’s important to protect what information these smart systems are gathering (especially because it’s in your home) to reduce any risk around potential identity fraud. Managing your profile or account with these systems is a good start – make sure you’re familiar with how they collect information and where you need to limit your data collection. One thing to consider if you’re concerned about protecting your data is that devices that are hard-wired to the Internet (meaning they use an Ethernet cable to connect to a network, for example) are more secure than devices that use your personal Wi-Fi network. Another good tip would be to use a strong password to protect any data stored in the apps that these systems connect to, which will deter any hackers out there.

Even when all of these precautions are taken, identity theft can still happen. But don’t worry, your home policy should cover you in this unlikely event. Your insurer could reimburse you for legal fees (or loans needed for legal fees), lost wages during the time it takes to sort the issue out, and even expenses for replacing legal documents (like a driver’s license or passport).

Smart home devices can add a lot of convenience to your everyday life, as well as improve your home security. Whether you decide to go with just one or two home automation products or make your entire home smart, you have a wide array of options to choose from.

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