The average cost to repair and clean up water damage in the US is more than $2,500, according to HomeAdvisor, a platform that connects homeowners with professionals who can help with home improvement projects and other repair work.
Hurricanes and flooding from nearby bodies of water are part of the problem, but so are leaky faucets and burst pipes, along with other broken bathroom fixtures. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety reported that water damage caused by toilets alone ranged from $2,000 to $10,000 per incident.
“Water leaks are eight times more likely to occur than a theft, so it’s by far the biggest threat to a home,” said Brett Jurgens, co-founder and CEO of Notion, which developed multi-purpose sensors and a connected app so people can keep track of what’s going on in their homes.
The company recently came out with the Plumber Matching feature, a partnership with HomeAdvisor that alerts homeowners immediately when a water leak occurs and matches them with a qualified plumber in the area who can fix the problem, leading to less damage and fewer claims.
“Of the thousands of water leaks that we have detected, we have seen zero insurance claims filed, and that really has to do with behavioral change. People believe in the alerts that we provide, they trust the system,” explained Jurgens.
Connected homes are an up-and-coming trend with ramifications for the insurance industry. Sensor data can allow insurers to inform their clients if they’re in a high risk flood zone, for example, and several insurance carriers have already jumped on the home telematics solution bandwagon. Products from key tech players have already made customers more open to making their home a connected one while advancements in the technology have widened its abilities.
“Through things like Amazon Echo and Google Home, smart home devices are becoming more comfortable for people,” said Jurgens. “When we think of what home automation actually is and what interoperability is, it’s not things like waking in your home and the lights turn blue, and you play your favorite song. That’s fine, but we want to try to solve real problems for people.”
Though some predict that an average home will have 500 smart devices in five years, the price of connected technology needs to come down to have widespread appeal.
“We need to make this technology much more broadly available to the masses, and that’s starting to happen and I think you’re going to see it happen even more,” said Jurgens, adding that companies with competitive pricing will put pressure on the rest of the industry to lower their price tags. “It’s a huge growth opportunity because still, most homes don’t have connected devices. About 28% of homes do, and only about 24% of homes have a home security system.”
Taking sensor data and applying it to help clients in a variety of areas in their lives, whether it’s by installing a sensor on a medicine cabinet to check whether an elderly parent has taken their medication or placing it on a gun safe to monitor if children are nearby or attempting to open it, is the value proposition of the connected home device and Notion’s goal.
“What we’re really trying to get to with this partnership and some others you’ll see this year is [getting to] that second level,” explained Jurgens. “How can we give you the information to help you fix the problem? How can we tell if a window is open and it’s supposed to rain by incorporating and integrating with weather data to give you that second level, really purposeful information at the right time?”