How to Secure Your Home From the Road & Car From the Couch
Efficient ways you can use your smart devices to safeguard your biggest investments.
With today’s internet of things (IoT), you can sync up pretty much every smart device you own so you can manage and control your personal life and belongings from anywhere in the world you have internet access.
From apps that help ensure your home is protected, to being able to check up on your car when you’re miles away, there’s no limit to the security-related innovation the IoT can offer. Here, we break down some of the most efficient ways you can use your smart devices to safeguard your biggest investments: your home and your car.
Securing Your Home Remotely
There’s no place like home, as the saying goes. But it has to feel—and actually be—safe and secure for you and your family. And today’s smart home technology allows for just that You can achieve a more connected, protected home with just a few clicks of a button on any smart device, and you can do it from virtually anywhere.
- Consider investing in a smart garage door. Believe it or not, garage doors are break-in hotspots for burglars. Fortunately, when it comes to making tech updates to your garage, you have a wealth of options. There are kits available at your local hardware store that can convert your existing garage door, or you can upgrade to a cutting-edge, technology-driven garage system that’s designed to communicate with your smart devices.
Want to double-check that you closed the garage door before you left for the airport? Smart garage doors allow you to check up—and if you forgot, you can close it (or open it) remotely. These systems can also send you alerts if your garage door falls victim to tampering or break-ins, so you’ll know immediately whether your home has been breached.
- Deter home burglaries by installing remotely controlled security lights outdoors. Installing motion-activated flood lights near more vulnerable areas of your home (i.e. entryways like doors and windows) can significantly deter any potential wrongdoers from burglarizing your place—whether you’re home or not. If you just hit the road and are concerned about whether or not you turned on your security lights, you can make sure everything’s good to go from your smart device.
Better yet, if you have surveillance cameras installed near those security lights, many modern systems have face-recognition technology that can help narrow down the perpetrators so they’re not as likely to repeat similar behavior (at your house or your neighbors’).
- Consider controlling your indoor lights, too. Controlling your home’s systems and devices from your smart phone certainly doesn’t have to stop at the front (or garage) door. If you’re taking a vacation or business trip, it’s a great security measure to turn on random indoor lights at random times throughout the darker hours of the day—and you can schedule it through your smart device, too, so you don’t have to worry about it.
What’s more, you can control and monitor your thermostat, garden irrigation and even your kitchen and laundry appliances from pretty much anywhere.
- Install a backup battery in case your garage door malfunctions or breaks. Whether you’re just getting home from the grocery store or a two-week vacation, the last thing you want is for your garage door to malfunction. Some garage doors have manual ways around this, but you can easily skip the hassle by purchasing a backup battery in case yours breaks. Some models even come standard with a backup.
Monitor Your Car from Your Couch (Or Anywhere, Really)
Cutting-edge technology now comes standard in so many vehicles that it makes it easy to stay connected to your car, even when you’re not near it. And if you have an older vehicle? There are plenty of affordable add-ons and convenient apps that can help update your ride to smart status.
- Schedule service appointments with ease — all in one place. Staying on top of recommended car maintenance is one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to keep your ride running in tip-top shape for the longest possible time. But in the past, scheduling regular appointments was not only forgettable, but also a bit of a hassle.
Not anymore. There are plenty of apps that can remind you about your regularly scheduled car maintenance—plus, they do all the work for you. With many apps, just plug in your car’s year, make, and model, and you’ll be notified of regular maintenance work based on your specific vehicle’s owner’s manual. Then, in the same, app, you can locate a trustworthy repair shop and make an appointment for service or repairs. How’s that for convenience?
- A dash camera can do a lot of good. The installation of dash cams—that is, cameras mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard—are growing in popularity as many consumers realize the myriad benefits of having one. A dash cam basically records everything within its purview while you’re driving, so not only can you get a nice video of your entire road trip, but there are some other pretty great perks, too—like video evidence of a crash, for example. And you can easily sync these cams with your smart devices so you have more than one record of the same incident.
But dash cams aren’t just beneficial when you’re on the road. Many models can keep recording while your car’s parked too—so if someone accidentally dings up your car or intentionally vandalizes it, you’ll have evidence so you can get your insurance claim settled faster and get back on the road quicker.
And the best part? You can keep an eye on your beloved road warrior from anywhere with internet access, since most dash cam models come equipped with smart-device connectivity.
- Forgot where you parked? No problem if you have a smart phone. You might be surprised by just how much new technology has gone into the simple act of finding your vehicle in a crowded parking lot. There are a wealth of smart phone apps that can save your car’s location via GPS and then help you find it once you’re done running errands or enjoying that baseball game.
Most apps let you record what level, section, row and spot you’re actually parked in, just in case your GPS is a little off or you don’t have phone reception. You can even add notes to your entries—”next to the elevator,” for example. Plus, you can set the specific time you parked. That way, you’ll get reminders from your smart device to refill your parking meter or even just check up on your ride.
- Check out all the available apps that show you specific info about your vehicle’s performance. Long gone are the days of plugging in a chunky telematics device to your car’s OBD-II port just to get specific data about your vehicle (although you can definitely still purchase those if they’re more your style or you need them for a specific function). These days, plenty of smart device apps have much smaller cords you can conveniently plug into your car’s OBD-II port from your device to get the exact same information.
There’s so much you can find out about the inner workings of your car with these apps and devices—from average gas mileage (or MPG for specific trips), to average driving speed, maintenance reminders and alerts, records and info about each trip you make, engine diagnostics, reminders about emissions testing, and even graphs of acceleration and braking forces so you can see how efficient your trips are on average or individually. And it doesn’t stop there.
You can also use your smart device (assuming you can safely and legally mount it on your dashboard) to create your own control center, with customized displays to show you gas mileage, a compass, your driving speed, current fuel levels, and a whole lot more. You can easily sync your vehicle’s data with any smart device for safe-keeping, too, so you always have a backup.
What’s more, many of these apps allow you to remotely lock or unlock your car, open or close windows, turn headlights on or off, and even start or turn off your engine.
The Best Financial Protection for Both Your Car and Home? Insurance, of Course.
We all want the certainty that our belongings are going to be financially safeguarded should something catastrophic happen, like an accident that totals your car, or a house fire that levels your home. That’s where auto and homeowners insurance come in to save the day, respectively.
When it comes to your car, you can count on auto insurance to have your back when it comes to car crashes (regardless of fault), theft and vandalism, acts of nature, and a whole host of other hazards that may befall your ride. It can also help pay for accident-related medical expenses for you and your passengers, your legal liability should you get sued after a crash, and so much more.
Homeowners insurance, on the other hand, financially protects your home from perils like fire and smoke damage, theft and vandalism, windstorms like tornadoes and hurricanes, falling objects (like a tree branch crashing through your roof, say), and even the freezing of plumbing, air conditioning and other household systems.
And home coverage doesn’t stop there—you’ll also get personal liability protection, personal property insurance for all the great stuff inside your place, and coverage for additional living expenses (like a hotel and food) if your house is rendered temporarily unlivable after a covered event. And there’s even more where that came from.
It’s always a good idea to speak with licensed agents at your auto and homeowners insurance companies. They can always discuss coverages, discounts and ways to further protect your home and car—whether you’re on the couch or in Tahiti. And most insurers have claims agents available 24/7 so you can reach them anytime, from anywhere.
Dave Crichton is a Vice President of Product at Esurance, where he is responsible for pricing, underwriting and third-party data integration. Dave has 22 years of experience in the industry, focused primarily on the underwriting, pricing, and innovation of auto insurance products.