The smart tech insurers aren't sure about

In an age where we’re embracing innovation, there appears to be a stumbling block

The smart tech insurers aren't sure about


By Paul Lucas

There have been plenty of tie-ups between insurance companies and tech firms in recent times – take, for example, One Call Insurance tapping Roost for home telematics, or Covea’s deal with LeakBot. However, it appears there is one form of smart technology that insurers are yet to commit to due to a looming fear of hacks.

A report in the Financial Times has shed light on the development of smart lock technology. The idea is straightforward enough – someone shows up at your home to carry out some repairs, feed the cat or to deliver an item while you’re away and you let them into the house remotely using a mobile phone. The locks are often monitored with cameras or other sensors making them all the more effective. Already several tech giants are on board with the concept – traditional lockmaker Yale has its own range of smart locks, while Amazon launched Amazon Key in the US and Samsung is also a manufacturer. However, adoption here in the UK is reported to be around three to four years behind that in the US.

One of the issues appears to be the fact that insurance companies, which have so widely embraced everything from leak detectors to connected alarms, are a little more unsure about smart locks. Speaking to the publication, Jenny Trueman, the head of connected homes and product innovation at Direct Line, noted that “we are focusing on preventative technology – smart locks may fit in at some point, but we haven’t got there yet.” She went on to note that people are wary of smart locks because “they are worried about the risk of hacking.”

The report goes on to suggest that some of these fears may not be misplaced with researchers at the University of Michigan finding they could hack into a smart lock by programming a new PIN. The professor involved urged customers to pause when considering these technologies because they expose “potential vulnerabilities.” Similarly, Apple had to fix a flaw in its HomeKit system just last year.

This, in turn, has made insurers wary with Phil Thorn, head of direct home insurance at Hiscox, telling The Financial Times that there has been a “spate of claims” after people develop ways to hack into electronic key access.

The emphasis then appears to be on the lockmakers themselves to prove they can overcome this risk. However, ultimately, insurers will just have to get used to them.

“The question isn’t whether insurers are happy or unhappy about smart locks, it’s whether they can adequately respond to growing consumer adoption of a technology that presents them with opportunities and risk,” Michael Costonis, global insurance practice leader at Accenture told The Financial Times.



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