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Video Thermal Imaging Protects Homes

Let’s take a look at my to-do list.

1.  Feed the cat.  Check.

2.  Pay some bills online.  Check.

3.  Dinner with friends.  7:00 p.m.

4.  Schedule infrared imaging appointment for my house.

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Wait, what?  It’s true.  One of the newest trends in homeowner’s coverage is a videographer’s analysis of the infrared output of your home through thermal imaging.  It’s a way to find hot (and cold) spots that can show potential areas of loss. Slash Your Home Insurance Premiums. Search for Lower Rates

Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., which does inspections of most of the homes it insures, started using video thermal imaging cameras in 2012 for the most expensive homes and historic buildings the company insures. The service is also available to people with high-value art collections, with scans being performed on storage and display areas. Use of the tool may expand.

“For us it’s in the infant stages, but we’re seeing a tremendous impact already,” Fireman’s Fund Risk Services Manager Richard Standring says.

Standring’s favorite example of a time that the new technology came in handy was when the owner of an $8 million house believed that all was well, but decided on a thermal scan “just to be doubly safe.”  The scan showed a cold spot in the ceiling.  They traced it to a leak in an icemaker in the upstairs kitchen suite.  A 37 cent clip had failed.  Over time the ceiling would have collapsed, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage.

You don’t have to own a mansion to take advantage of some of the newest gadgets on the market. USAA needed an assessment tool for neighborhoods where military clientele might consider moving. They developed an online risk analysis tool for all its home insurance customers.

The tool analyzes risk data that includes history of fire, flood, earthquake, and storm surge.  Future improvements will include theft and vandalism history as well.  Already the program can isolate individual addresses, rather than just giving a blanket neighborhood rating.

Probably the least expensive, yet potentially most valuable tool available to homeowners and renters alike is a $20.00 water sensor.  Placed behind water-bearing appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and washing machines the sensor can save the resident a lot of grief (and no small expense.)  Add a couple more for under sinks and know that you’ll be made aware of leaks long before they can cause a problem.  In most cases this is a more optimal choice than a professionally installed water alarm that will cost thousands of dollars.

If you think that this is the end of the line for homeowners insurance toys and gadgetry think again.  The Hartford recently applied for a patent on a product that would “use spectral images to assess the condition of an insured property. The method would use the non-visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to identify chemical changes caused by wildfires and other natural disasters,” according to spokesperson Thomas Hambrick.

Hambrick went on to say that his company has no current plans to implement the device.  He characterized it as a future concept patent.

Back in the day your insurer would come by your place in a dented Impala and take a couple of Polaroids when you purchased a policy.  Now it’s radiation outputs, moisture sensors, and a graphic analysis of the charged particles that surround your home.  When they say your home is covered, they mean that literally.

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