A smart approach to water damage is making waves in Spain

New technology is upending the traditional connection between insurers and SME customers. Quick identification of events aims to lower claim costs.

A small device that alerts business owners when water threatens their property is helping them manage a risk before it swamps their operations.

First introduced in Spain, Zurich Smart provides a sensor for offices that sends an alarm to the customer if it detects water on the floor of the building. For restaurants, a “smart plug” responds to a loss of electricity that could lead to such problems as spoiling of refrigerated goods.

Zurich Smart is a unique new arrival to the Internet of Things, its water detection sensor being the first such solution using narrow band technology that allows it to function without a WiFi network. Following its launch to small and medium-sized businesses in Spain, Zurich Smart will be made available later to other customers in the country. It is part of Zurich’s enhanced focus on providing services that mitigate losses before they become big problems.

“This is a unique digital step in the insurance sector and we are applying it where it is most needed,” said Stefano de Liguoro, Head of Digital Business at Zurich Spain. “Seventy percent of companies suffer at least one loss per year that could end their business. Identifying a loss as soon as soon as possible means that the impact on that SME is significantly reduced,” he said.

There were 1.4 million insured businesses in Spain in 2017 and they reported nearly half a million incidents of damage, a large proportion of them caused by water, according to the latest report by UNESPA, the Spanish Association of Insurers and Reinsurers. Until now, there hasn’t been a way to monitor the threat of unwanted water and quickly respond to it before damages pile up.

The approach changes the way insurers traditionally have served SME customers as little more than claims payers. This smart product, and others planned by Zurich for other types of businesses, refocuses the insurer’s attention to serve the customer at any point along the insurance value chain.

“Zurich continues to develop a range of flexible and innovative solutions aimed at the evolving needs of its customers,” said Giovanni Giuliani, Group Head of Strategy, Innovation and Business Development at Zurich. “Insurance is about more than just paying claims, it’s about finding innovative ways to protect customers from harm.”

“Thanks to connected technologies, we are giving better service to our customers by going beyond traditional insurance,” said Massimiliano De Carolis, Group Head of Home Ecosystem “Customers are able to concentrate on doing business, secure in the knowledge that we are protecting them.”

Zurich Smart is available through the zurichempresas.es portal.

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