How smart tech can keep you safe when you’re away this Christmas
As Australia reopens over the Christmas period, a handful of travel and home insurers like Honey are working on new ways to protect customers.
Adjusting to life after lockdown hasn't been easy for Australians. While international and most state borders have opened, the impact of COVID-19 and lockdowns has had a profound impact on people's mental health.
A recent survey by home insurance provider Honey Insurance found that 32% of us are feeling a range of mixed emotions and anxiety about leaving our homes unattended as we adjust to post-lockdown life – an issue that the insurance provider wants to address.
Smart technology that provides security while you're away
The insurance tech startup Honey gives its customers $250 worth of smart sensors when they take out a policy.
"These smart sensors detect the 3 most common household accidents in the home that lead to claims, including water leaks, fires and theft, helping customers to feel safer as a result," said Angelo Azar, chief operating officer of Honey Insurance.
For example, the sensors can detect leaky water pipes, smoke and open doors. The program connects through the app on your phone alerting you to potential risks, which could be particularly beneficial to those travelling over Christmas.
"The Honey Smart Home Program includes 3 smart devices which are effectively sensors, and a device called the Bridge which together sync up to work with your existing Wi-Fi connection," said Azar.
Azar also claimed the program is very easy to install: "You simply follow the instructions provided to download the app, install the bridge, set up your sensors in places like behind your washing machine or under your sink, or perhaps on a door or window you want to monitor, and you'll be good to go."
Get rewarded for being safe
"Ordinarily with home insurance, you don't really get anything back unless you make a claim," said Azar. However, "only 6% of customers make a home claim each year."
"With Honey, you get something back as soon as you sign up for your home insurance with us," claimed Azar. In addition to receiving the smart sensors (reducing your chances of an incident occurring), "Honey will also reward you with a discount on your premium".
"The way we think about it is that if you're helping to reduce risk then you should be rewarded for that, it's only fair."
Consider taking out home insurance this Christmas
A survey by Finder found that as many as 1 in 4 people leave their front doors unlocked – that's around 2.2 million people.
Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder, said there is room for improvement with home security in Australia. "Burglary happens everywhere, even in the safest neighbourhoods," she said.
"Your house is usually your biggest asset – home insurance helps protect that investment."
Some travel insurers now come with COVID-19 cover
Those travelling overseas or domestically should not forget about travel insurance either, says insurance expert James Martin. Finder looked at 31 policies and found 16 insurers that include some cover for COVID-related incidents.
"Travel has changed a lot since March 2020. For lots of Australians, this Christmas will be the first time they've been away from home for over 18 months," said Martin.
"A handful of travel insurance providers have adapted their policies to include some COVID-19-related cover. This can include things like medical expenses if you catch COVID while abroad and trip rearrangement costs if you, a fellow traveller or your host gets COVID-19 and it impacts your trip," added Martin.
However, Martin says there are some events travel insurance won't cover: "For example, it generally does not cover cancellation costs related to government-enforced border closures or lockdowns."
"You will generally need to rely on your airline's COVID-19 refund or credit policy for that," Martin advised.
Travel insurance is still worth getting, even for domestic trips
Though travel insurance can't cover costs related to border closures, it can still cover cancellations that are not related to COVID.
Figures released by Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) on the top 10 most expensive domestic claims in Australia reveal that changed or cancelled journeys accounted for 39% of the total value of domestic travel insurance claims over the past year.
At the top of the list was a claim for $6,043 paid to a customer who had to cancel her trip and return home early due to family circumstances.
The second most expensive claim was $4,685, paid to the parents of a 15-year-old who was hospitalised in Mackay for 3 days due to acute appendicitis and required urgent surgery.
Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO Jo McCauley said these claims show that travel insurance is just as important for trips closer to home, if not more, than heading overseas:
"Following the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a heightened sense of what could go wrong on holiday, and we've seen this reflected in the growing number of people purchasing domestic travel insurance with SCTI.
"Interestingly, people commonly purchase insurance because they want to be covered while they're away on holiday, but our biggest number of claims show that the unexpected can happen beforehand, regardless of whether you're travelling domestically or abroad," said McCauley.
"Unfortunately, this can have a serious hit to your pocket if you don't have travel insurance," they added.