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  • Writer's pictureMegan Connor

Smart Homes: What claims adjusters need to know

Smart home technology is revolutionizing the way we interact with our homes, making our lives easier and more convenient. With the help of smart devices, we can control all the aspects of our homes at the touch of a button or even the sound of our voice. From lighting, heating, and cooling systems to security cameras and entertainment centers, smart home technology, from simple DIY set-ups to pricey custom-designed home automation systems, is no longer a Jetsons-inspired dream - it is becoming the standard.

With smarter homes than ever before, we need to consider how to properly handle home automation or smart home claims. This article explores the basics of home automation systems and their benefits, as well as the downsides of home automation systems in the claims process. What should adjusters keep in mind when handling a smart home or home automation system claim?

What is a smart home?

Smart home technology refers to the integration of various devices and systems that allow us to automate many of the functions in our homes. These devices are often connected to the internet, enabling us to control them remotely using our phones or other digital devices. They can be programmed to turn on or off at certain times, to adapt to our routines, or even to learn our preferences and anticipate our needs.

The most common smart home devices are smart speakers, smart locks, smart thermostats, smart lighting, and smart security systems. Smart speakers are perhaps the most widely adopted of all smart home devices. These intelligent speakers are connected to our smartphones or digital assistants. They can be used to play music or control other connected devices, such as smart lighting or thermostats, completely hands-free.

Smart locks are another popular smart home device. These locks can be programmed to open automatically when we get close or to only allow certain people to enter at certain times. They can also be controlled using our smartphones, and some smart locks come with additional security features, such as fingerprint scanning or facial recognition.

Smart thermostats are another essential component of any smart home system. These devices can be programmed to adjust the temperature of our homes based on our preferences, and they can also learn our routines and automatically adjust the temperature accordingly. This not only makes the home more comfortable but also helps to save energy and reduce costs.

Smart lighting systems are another must-have component of a smart home. These systems can be programmed to turn on and off at set times, adjust the brightness and color temperature of the light to match our moods, or even sync with our entertainment center to provide an immersive viewing experience.

The good stuff.

There are many advantages of smart homes. Some of the most significant advantages include increased comfort, convenience, energy efficiency, and security. With a smart home, you can control your home's lighting, temperature, and security systems remotely using your smartphone or other internet-connected devices. This means you can adjust your home's settings to meet your needs without being physically there.

Smart homes can help you save money on energy bills by automatically adjusting settings based on occupancy and other factors. Overall, smart homes can make your life easier, safer, and more comfortable.

Smart security systems are an essential aspect of any smart home. These devices can be integrated into our homes to provide surveillance and security alerts. They can be programmed to alert us of any unusual activity, even when we’re not at home, and even integrate with other smart devices such as our smart locks.

The not-so-good stuff.

Smart homes can be incredibly convenient; however, when damage strikes, particularly damages stemming from lightning, power surge, water exposure, smoke/fire inundation, and theft or vandalism, smart homes and home automation systems can be incredibly inconvenient. As a homeowner, you want to protect the investment of a fully automated home and the last thing you need is another headache after a loss. As an adjuster, you need to know the basics of handling a smart home or home automation system claim to close the claim fairly, accurately, and in a timely manner.

When handling a smart home or home automation claim, an adjuster should prioritize assessing the damage, investigating the claimed cause of loss, and establishing contact with the policyholder's service provider or system integrator. A positive relationship with the system integrator can go a long way when navigating a smart home or home automation loss, particularly with those high-end, bespoke whole home automation systems. These claims often involve a lot of documentation, including invoices, original installation proposals, repair/replacement estimates, and more. An adjuster should prepare to sift through all of these documents or retain a third-party investigation service to properly evaluate the claim from start to finish.

When handling a smart home or home automation system claim, time is of the essence! Depending on the scope of the system and the extent to which proprietary software or programming is involved, assessing the damage can take a while. It may seem that new damages are popping up daily. Assessing the damage completely is key to understanding feasible repair/replacement options.

What claims adjusters need to know.

Despite the exponential technological advancements that have been made in the smart home technology market, one thing is for sure: smart home devices will fail. For those high-end systems in particular, claims for damaged smart home equipment are inevitable. Claims adjusters need to be prepared when it comes to evaluating these high-dollar claims.

For high-end, custom home automation systems, claims adjusters should follow these steps to ensure any claimed damages are properly investigated and confirmed damaged, prior to paying out what can be a HUGE settlement.

1) Define the scope of the system.

With any home automation claim, an adjuster should consider the scope of the system or systems being claimed. Establishing the functions of the original system will assist in determining the extent of damage from the loss, as well as evaluating repair or replacement proposals and invoices.

2) Establish a relationship with the policyholder's service provider.

Higher-end home automation systems almost always are attached to a particular service provider or providers. Often referred to as system integrators, these companies will be the most knowledgeable about the original design, layout, function, and programming of the claimed system. Important details may need to be gathered from the service provider to proceed with handling the claim.

3) Get a second opinion.

For high-end systems, a second opinion is key to making a final determination of whether the system can be repaired or must be replaced. Initial proposals, estimates, or quotes should always be evaluated thoroughly to ensure the service provider recommendation is fair, accurate, and in keeping with the confirmed damages from the loss event.

5 common smart home issues - tips for staying connected.

Beyond the unexpected events of lightning, power surge, water, or fire damage, smart homes can (and do) experience typical problems like any other internet-connected device in the home. Familiarizing oneself with these common smart home malfunctions can assist greatly in determining if an issue is minor, or if further investigation is needed.

1. Connectivity issues

One of the most common problems with smart home systems is connectivity issues. If your smart home apps or devices are not connecting to the internet or each other, the first thing to check is your Wi-Fi connection. You can try resetting your router, restarting your devices, or checking for firmware updates.

Higher-end systems and their corresponding network may be monitored remotely by a service provider or system integrator. If your network issue cannot be resolved easily, you may want to check in with your service provider.

2. Power outages

Power outages can affect your smart home system operations. If you experience frequent blackouts or power surges, it's crucial to connect your devices to a UPS (uninterrupted power supply). A battery backup generator could also come in handy.

3. Sensor malfunction

Sensors in smart home systems might malfunction due to physical damage or software issues. If the sensors aren't picking up on your movements or aren't sensing when you enter or exit a room, it could be a problem with the sensor's wiring, power supply, or calibration. You can try resetting the sensors, cleaning them, or consulting with the system's manufacturer's recommended troubleshooter.

4. Incompatible devices

Sometimes third-party devices that aren't compatible with your smart home system could cause damage or connectivity glitches. Be sure to research the devices you want to connect to your system and check if they're compatible with the home automation system or protocol in use.

5. Software glitches

Many smart home systems run on software that controls device operations, interactions with owners, and programming. However, software errors can occur, and if not fixed timely, they can cause significant problems. Make sure that your system's software, applications, and firmware are kept up to date.

Need assistance with a smart home claim? Contact an expert today.

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