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Home insurance provider Legal & General is to offer customers a connected water leak detector called LeakBot through a new partnership with home assistance provider HomeServe.
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LeakBot came into being through HomeServe’s startup research and development unit HomeServe Labs, which was set up in 2014 to explore how digital innovation could support the firm’s core domestic services business.
The labs team soon hit on the idea of building an internet of things (IoT) water leak detector because claims for water damage account for around a quarter of insurance payouts every year in the UK. “Anyone who has experienced a water leak in their home from a burst pipe or leaking radiator knows how devastating the damage can be,” said Cheryl Agius, CEO of Legal & General’s insurance division.
LeakBot uses technology that has been dubbed Thermi-Q, which is essentially a thermistor connected to a Raspberry Pi and a subscriber identification module (SIM) card that clips onto a property’s main water pipe and reads both its temperature and ambient temperature.
Because pipes chill by a tiny amount when water is being drawn through them, by monitoring changes in the temperature differential during period of low usage – such as in the middle of the night – Leakbot can detect abnormalities in usage that could indicate a leak.
Legal & General said that because leaks often develop slowly over a long period of time, customers are often unaware there is a problem until major damage is done to their property. By alerting them ahead of time using a smartphone app, it hopes to bring down the amount of money it has to pay out and protect its customers’ premiums.
“By raising awareness of the risks posed by the escape of water in the home and offering a solution to detect any leakage, we hope to be able to help our customers minimise their potential exposure to water damage,” said Agius.
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Legal & General said that it planned to start making LeakBot available to selected customers during the summer of 2017.
“Connected home innovation that makes life easier for customers and helps keep life moving is a key strategic focus for HomeServe, and Legal & General clearly shares a similar objective. Legal & General is the third major insurer to partner with us to offer LeakBot to its customers,” said HomeServe UK CEO Martin Bennett.
“This shows the huge impact our device has had in the insurance industry, with more and more insurers recognising LeakBot’s ability to solve the massive issue of water leak damage,” he continued. “We are looking forward to seeing Legal & General’s customers benefit from LeakBot and are hoping to work with more partners in the future.”