Are leak detection devices the answer to reversing claims-related costs?
Last year, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the UK saw the worst period of burst pipes on record, with £2.5m being paid out every day to customers with escape of water (EOW) claims. Water damage from flooding caused by burst pipes or mould due to excess humidity is the single largest risk to homes in the UK.
One method that could combat the rise of claims-related costs is the use of leak-detection technology in domestic properties. By detecting a leak before it turns into a major incident, homeowners can minimise or prevent damage and therefore reduce the size of any eventual claim. But what is leak-detection technology and how does it work?
DETECTION AND DIAGNOSIS
Leak-detection technology is an innovative way to identify or flag potential issues before they turn into indoor flooding. With various devices and systems appearing on the market, technology is addressing the issue by using different methods of detection, diagnosis and actioning.
One such example is the upcoming Waterlock system from Green Energy Options (geo), which is being taken to market in partnership with Magenta Insurance. This smarthome-system device works through sensors placed around the home that can detect standing water or an increase in humidity. Connected to a mobile application (both iOS and Android), users can monitor and control the actions of their system by activating a valve that can turn their water supply on or off remotely. Users can receive notifications about any unusual activity detected by the sensors and system status reports, allowing them to optimise both detection and control capabilities within the home.
The system can connect to up to six sensors placed around the home with an 868MHz long-range wireless connection that enables the system to work in large homes, properties with outbuildings or other environments where wi-fi does not perform well. With voice control in development, this system should be as easy to use as any other smarthome device on a mobile phone.
The system also has the ability to supply data directly to insurance partners or property management companies (subject to end-user permission). This enables the introduction of innovative bundles of connected home technology with insurance policies or managed services. With the increase of big data analytics being used to improve the claims handling process, leak-detection devices can not only limit potential damage but provide intelligent information in the event of a claim.
Magenta Insurance are at this year's BIBA conference in the UK, demonstrating Waterlock. They aim to provide a unique example of where the installation of a leak-detection device will financially benefit consumers.
Aquapea is another revolutionary leak repair system for water-supply pipes, made by Qinov8 in partnership with Auger. This repair system is suitable for all common waterpipe materials in homes and commercial buildings.
According to its producers, Aquapea works as follows: "The system uses an advanced polymer material the size of a pea, which is introduced into the water supply pipe at an external meter chamber and, with the internal stop tap turned off, the polymer is drawn to the location of the leak. The flow of water carries the Aquapea along the inside of the pipe, bonding to the pipe at the position of the leak and curing within 20 minutes. Different-sized peas can be used depending on the size of the leak. This can be calculated by the water loss per minute and monitoring the water pressure."
By stopping leaks in this way, further water loss is reduced and subsequent repairs can take place by completing an excavation. This solution can offer an average 25% saving for insurers on an external water pipe claim and up to 80% on internal leaks, due to reducing disruption normally caused by major repair works.
With further leak-detection devices continuing to appear on the market, researchers and inventors are exploring the full potential that technology can bring alongside insurance. By identifying new ways to detect and action a leak, preventing major water loss and recusing claims-related costs is becoming a credible possibility. If results are consistent, this could also establish the installation of such devices to be considered when calculating property and contents insurance.
James Moorhouse is content manager at the CII