Ask LH: Will Bluetooth Locks Invalidate My Insurance?

Hey Lifehacker, I've been looking at the new Bluetooth door locks but I am worried about my home insurance if the locks aren't standard. What are the insurance ramifications from installing a couple in my house? Thanks, Locked Out

Ask Lifehacker is presented by Optus.
Find out how Optus can help you Live More Yes!

Dear LO,

First, here's some background information for people who might not be familiar with Bluetooth locks. Bluetooth SMART is a relatively new lock technology that handles communication between the lock and a permissioned smartphone. This UniKey video attempts to explain some of the chief benefits:

While Bluetooth locks have their critics, they can't be easily hacked. Bluetooth SMART uses the same 128-bit AES encryption as online banking and the new spec features adaptive frequency-hopping, which basically scatters whatever encrypted data you’re sending across the 2.4GHz spectrum. You can also get models that send notifications to your smartphone the moment the knock sensor has been triggered. However, when it comes to home insurance, there's one significant caveat.

Most home insurance policies require two-cylinder or double-keyed deadlocks on all external hinged doors. This is to prevent large, expensive items being easily removed from the house during a break-in. (i.e. -- Once locked, the door cannot be opened from either side without a key.)

The problem with electronic locks is that many models only protect you from the outside -- you don't need a digital key or smartphone app to unlock them from inside the house. This is convenient for the homeowner (especially if you're trying to get out in a hurry) but it could potentially void your insurance claim in the event of a robbery.

With that said, there are several digital locks on the market that come with a pin-activated deadlatch. These models cannot be opened from the inside without the correct security code or corresponding key. Some even come with biometric fingerprint readers.

Most insurance providers will happily accept a digital lock provided it meets the same criteria as a regular lock. Naturally, it's a good idea to run the product by your insurance provider and get written approval prior to installation.

If any readers have a particular Bluetooth lock recommendations (or models to avoid), let LO know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.


Comments

    Or install the bluetooth lock right above your existing deadlock. Your insurance policy specifies that deadlocks are installed, not how often you use them.

      Serious question - in the event of a claim, wouldn't they just look at the lock and say "No damage, ergo deadbolt was not in use, no payout"?

        This is entirely possible. If you've left a door unlocked, it definitely affects a claim. This could, too. They will be looking for any reason not to pay, don't forget!

          If you've left a door unlocked, it definitely affects a claim.

          Really? There's no clause in my home insurance saying I'm not covered if I forget to lock the house.

          What's the clause you're referring to?

          If you are covered by an insurance policy that won't cover you if you one day forget to lock your front door, change insurers. Do you really want to be paying insurance year after year then find you're not covered when you need it because you forgot to lock the door?!

            5 mins of internet research: Suncorp's Home & Contents PDS.

            -------------------------
            Theft or Burglary
            We cover
            Loss or damage caused by thieves or burglars.
            We do not cover
            Loss or damage:
            – caused by you or someone who lives at the insured address;
            – caused by someone who entered the insured address with:
            • your consent;
            • the consent of someone who had your authority to allow them access to the insured address.
            – caused by thieves or burglars entering your insured address from common property, shared clothes line areas, garages, storage areas or a car parking lot at the insured address without signs of forced entry, but we will cover theft without forced entry from a fully enclosed car garage which is restricted for your use only

            ---------------------
            Exclusions:

            When security or alarms are not working
            [You are not covered under any section of this policy for damage, loss, cost or legal liability that is
            caused by, arises from or involves] loss or theft if the door locks, window locks or alarms you told us were installed, were in fact not installed, not in working condition, disconnected, or not used as intended and we relied on them being there as a reason for accepting and continuing your policy (however, forgetting to turn on your alarm or to lock a door will not in itself affect theft cover under your policy).

              @mrjezza - my reading from that is if you have a separate deadbolt, you can freely replace the standard door lock with a non-compliant wifi/bluetooth thing as long as your deadlock is 'installed, working, connected and used as intended'.

              You should lock the deadbolt every time you leave the house, and when you're asleep - just like how normal people should use a deadbolt when it's separate from the doorknob lock.

              However, if you fail to use the deadbolt on a particular occasion, then "forgetting to turn on your alarm or to lock a door will not in itself affect theft cover under your policy)."

        They most certainly would. An insurance assessor would be all over that like stink on shit!

          Yep. They could also specify a percentage of liability

        yes. that is exactly what an insurance assessor will do. while i can't comment on anyone's policy in particular, i'd be very surprised if the wording didn't require all potential entrances into the property to be secured using all available security devices.

    From what I understand most of the locks on the market are designed for the USA where locks are required to be able to be opened from the inside for fire safety reasons (the hurry the article mentions). What are the lock brands with the 'pin activated deadlatch'?

    Last edited 17/10/14 8:56 pm

    For a legit breakin with visible signs of forced entry there is no way that you would get a decline maintained (in AUS). FOS will always look at the "spirit" of the PDS wording and in 99% of cases will always rule in favour of the "little man" over an insurance company in all 'borderline' disputes. Remember it costs the insurance company all the way through the dispute process - not the client. Heck its almost $100 if you jump the gun and go straight to FOS without using the internal dispute process let alone the $2k+ once it gets to that stage just for FOS to even review the case...let alone rule on it. Mind you this is only for those insurance companies that are part of the ICA and an "Australian company", If you got a broker to get you an overseas underwriter coz it was cheaper flood cover etc ...go hire a lawyer to front court for you in London or Singapore as thats where your dispute will be heard (eg Lloyds etc underwritten insurance etc).

Join the discussion!