< Study Room | 02.01.2019 |

A powerful solution

A powerful solution

Faddy technology or a useful crime deterrent? We look at the increasing uptake of SmartWater…

As part of the CII’s commitment to enhance the reputation and standing of the insurance and financial services sector, policy and public affairs produce materials covering a wide range of subjects including UK and European regulation, industry developments and legislation.As part of the CII’s commitment to enhance the reputation and standing of the insurance and financial services sector, policy and public affairs produce materials covering a wide range of subjects including UK and European regulation, industry developments and legislation.

One key area of this is the CII Good Practice Guides, covering a broad range of topic areas as part of an effort to expand the knowledge of insurers as well as examining emerging trends. Here we feature an extract from one such guide.


SmartWater is a forensic traceable liquid that is used as a security device to mark valuable and/or easily removable items. Each SmartWater solution has its own unique forensic signature, meaning that no two solutions are the same.

By having its own forensic code, anything marked with the SmartWater solution can be identified and traced back to its owner if stolen. The solution is invisible under natural light but glows under UV light. This means marked items can be identified by the police as well as linking criminals to a crime scene.

SmartWater ‘Dab-it-On’ traceable liquid can be used to invisibly tag valuable items, such as watches, jewellery, laptops and mobile phones. It is also durable enough to be suitable for external metals used on roofs, as well as on property stored outdoors. The solution is priced affordably, meaning that the cost will not be too burdensome on businesses and clients that wish to purchase it.

Deterring thievesBy advising their client to use SmartWater, brokers are promoting an innovative security device that is both widely recognised in crimefighting as well as proven effective in prosecuting.

All registered users of SmartWater must actively display a SmartWater logo in visible areas as a warning to potential thieves (such as in windows, on highly prominent pieces of property, or on the front of buildings). As well as being a condition of complying with the policy terms of SmartWater, the signage is also found to be an effective deterrent. Research has shown that properties displaying SmartWater window stickers or signage have been avoided by criminals.

SmartWater has also been effective in reducing the number of traders handling stolen goods. With its increasing reputation among law enforcers and criminals, SmartWater is becoming widely recognised as an effective deterrent.


As one of the world’s most powerful crime deterrents, SmartWater is endorsed by many law enforcement departments, including the London Metropolitan Police. The Met has implemented a project called MetTrace, with the aim of reducing burglaries across London by promoting the use of SmartWater. This project aims to reach out to one in seven homes across London during a three-year period, to provide crime prevention advice and free SmartWater property marking kits. This has raised the profile of SmartWater within domestic household users, while simultaneously training police officers to routinely search for property marked with SmartWater.

The Met reports: “To date, the use of SmartWater has had a 100% conviction rate in court and has been proven to reduce burglaries by 85%.” With a significant reduction in burglaries, and 300,000 SmartWater-registered homes in London alone, insurers can be confident in recommending this device.


Registered users of SmartWater should never share their solution with friends or family. This is because the solution is registered to a specific address and user. Any property marked with SmartWater that does not belong to the registered user or at the registered address will not be recognised and violates the terms of use.

Users should also not dilute the solution, as this will corrupt the marked solution and render the solution unidentifiable. It also violates the terms of use.

If a client sells or passes on a piece of property marked with SmartWater, they should inform the new owner and their insurer as this could complicate a future investigation if the item is later stolen and recovered. Buying used goods that have already been marked with SmartWater may also be a potential issue if the original owner has not disclosed that it is no longer in their possession or if a different SmartWater solution is applied on top of it.


SmartWater not only helps to identify stolen property, but can also be employed as an anti-robbery and fly-tipping device.

SmartWater has further been developed as a forensic spray used to mark cash in transit or an offender, in a similar way to how forensic solution marks property. The result of this is that the criminal and the stolen property can be connected back to the scene of the crime. Similarly, a SmartWater Fog Cannon can also tag a potential burglar as well as causing them to become disorientated and flee the scene. The solution lasts for years, meaning that a criminal will literally carry the evidence on them.

Aside from personal use, SmartWater can also be used to protect valuable property stored in warehouses, schools, churches, commercial units and business premises.


Apply SmartWater effectivelyAs the solution itself contains the forensic formula, only a small amount is needed per personal item. The solution is also waterproof and can be used on property stored outdoors (including property material).

To ensure SmartWater is being properly used by your client, advise them of the following:

  • Do not apply solution to functional electronic parts (such as ports, displays, battery units, speaker grills)
  • Do not apply to electronic devices while still plugged to the mains
  • Do not write with the solution – the liquid itself is the marker
  • Do not apply to a vehicle while the engine is running
  • Do not dilute the solution
  • Do not use solution that has expired
  • Do not store the solution in extreme hot or cold temperatures
  • Do not apply it to working or moving parts (such as nuts, bolts, keys, switches)
  • Do not share the solution with any unregistered users (such as a neighbour or friend).

Cross-reference what has been marked
When insuring your client’s belongings, check what has been genuinely had SmartWater solution applied to it. Registered users do not need to declare to SmartWater the individual marked items. They only need to notify the police if a theft occurs. Marked items should not be missed when calculating coverage and nothing should be declared as marked that is not. You may wish to spot check items of very high value if doing an inspection of personal property, as well as ensuring that the solution is being applied appropriately.

A client may not use all the solution straight away. If any applications are made at a later date, this will need to be updated on their records and coverage priced appropriately and accurately.

SmartWater has created an Asset Register so that your client can keep track of what has been marked, as well as if the property has been disposed of or moved location.

Keep updated on recoveries

If a client has an item stolen but it is later returned to them after a claim is paid, possession of the recovered property will have to be decided. The SmartWater database should keep you updated on any news regarding recoveries, however this could happen months or years after the actual theft. The insurance company may wish to take possession of any recovered items or recoup any claims paid out (less any costs if the item is returned damaged).

While not declaring recovered items is considered an act of fraud, a positive aspect for a client is that the original claim should no longer factor into their insurance rate.

Spreading the word

Now that SmartWater is becoming a widely recognised tool, not just in deterring crime but recovering stolen property, insurers should consider incorporating it into conversations with their clients on a regular basis. Those who have valuable personal property should be encouraged to consider using SmartWater. By using the statistics from SmartWater and the Metropolitan Police, clients should feel reassured that this is not a faddy piece of technology but a useful crime deterrent.

SmartWater does not just have to be for high-value personal items. If you have clients who wish to insure valuable building materials, cash in transit, commercial property or valuable religious artefacts, SmartWater can also cater to these needs too.

Now that SmartWater is becoming widely endorsed and recognised by the police and criminals alike, clients should be able to put their trust in you when recommending it as a credible security precaution.

To read the full guide, visit: sib.org.uk/learning-content-hub/
James Moorhouse is content manager at the CII


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