A smart geyser that tells you when it’s fit to burst

3 min read 11 June 2021

It turns out geyser-related issues cause some of the country’s most common household insurance claims, this is according to Santam – South Africa’s leading short-term insurer. It’s not just replacing the equipment that’s expensive. It’s all the damage it can wreak when it goes wrong. Think where your geyser is right now. Imagine the devastation should a cascade of water come down– cupboards, wooden floors, carpets and general flooding, especially when you’re not at home. 

Luckily, the ubiquity of the Internet of Things (IoT) has benefits for almost every facet of life… including prospective geyser woes. In partnership with Sensor Networks, Santam Specialist Real Estate is spearheading integration of the IoT (internet-connected everyday objects that can send and receive data) into existing insurance models and systems – including smart-geyser devices. This forms part of its focus on smart-home insurance solutions.

What do these nifty smart geysers do? Head of Santam Specialist Real Estate Karl Bishop says, “Say hello to the house of the future! Once a Sensor Networks smart-geyser device gets retroactively fitted to a client’s electric geyser, it links to their phone via an app. Should a geyser leak, burst or blow an element, the device will spot the problem and automatically shut off the water and electricity to limit resulting damage. Most geysers only have a seven-year lifespan so we’re all likely to experience an issue at some point. Hence why this kind of innovation is so essential.”

Bishop says that clients also get the added benefit of being able to manage their geyser temperature and heating schedule via bespoke hardware and software platforms, thus cutting excessive energy use. “Often we want to save energy by reducing geyser usage but we either forget or just don’t get around to it. This technology makes it super-simple, which makes us more likely to do it!”

He adds that Santam also receives an immediate notification when a geyser issue occurs, which lets the leading insurer quickly process and resolve resultant claims. “This technology allows us, as the insurer, to either pre-empt or react proactively to potential incidents, rather than acting on a reactive basis. Our policyholders benefit by either having a potential incident completely averted or the effects of the resultant damage being significantly reduced.”

The success of this project has prompted Sensor Networks to run proof-of-concepts projects on a fully integrated smart-home solution. Sensor Networks founder Mark Allewell says, “We want to give forward-thinking insurance providers the ability to reduce risk and build claims-prediction models based on streaming data received by IoT sensors.”