How does a company in a traditional industry transform to become more relevant to its customers? Get help from IoT of course! A good example of this is Länsförsäkringar Stockholm, which through its smart service “Vattenvakten” (in English best described as “smart water alarm” or “smart water detection”) has taken a strategic and tactical step from a reactive service company to enlisting the help of partners to be able to offer a more proactive service.
This IoT case was first published in Swedish on Telenor Sverige.
Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it is Because with the smart water detection “Vattenvakten”, Länsförsäkringar Stockholm has wanted to go a step further in preventing water damage, which is one of the most common insurance claims in Sweden. So what’s the benefit of this solution? First, we have the affected individuals, with high costs and great impact in everyday life, possessions being destroyed and extensive renovations and a general sense of insecurity. Then the whole of society at large is also affected by environmental impact and resource consumption. Studies conducted by Länsförsäkringar Stockholm show that carbon dioxide emissions from a bathroom renovation amount to just over 3.5 tons! So there’s a lot to be gained from dealing with water damage before it occurs.
The Länsförsäkringar Alliance is unique in the Swedish bank and insurance market. The 23 customer-owned regional insurance companies cooperate, thereby combining the ability of a small company to adapt to its customers with the strength of a large company.
The company’s task is to offer total solutions based on different combinations of non-life insurance, accident and medical insurance, life assurance, pension saving plans, fund savings and various banking services.
In September 2020, Vattenvakten was launched and offered to Länsförsäkringar customers in Stockholm. Joel Voltaire, who is responsible for Development and Strategy at Länsförsäkringar Stockholm, explains: “We saw it as a given that there must be a way to create a better service to prevent water damage. It’s all there—savings, sustainability and a better quality of life for the customer. After a long series of pilots, we launched the service. We have since worked continuously with customer insights to learn more about our customers’ needs and improve the water guard. We look at the water guard as a long-term loss prevention initiative, where we as an insurance company, take greater responsibility. We will continuously develop the service by listening to customer needs at the same time as we improve the technical components with our partners.
So how does Vattenvakten work? The simple answer is: by detecting a leak before the damage has been done. But through the technical solution, you go a step further, because the water alarm can also detect minor leaks long before they become a huge problem. And if a pipe should burst, the water can be shut off by automatically. Over time, it will be possible to identify risk factors at an early stage and carry out preventive measures before damage has occurred.
The backbone of Vattenvakten is two hardware components—a water sensor and a water fault switch, both of which are connected via the mobile network. Then they continuously collect and send data from the surroundings. Of course, everything is monitored via an app that tells you if abnormal water activity is detected.
Behind this simple technical description, there isthree actors that make up the basic “ecosystem” of manyIoT projects, including this one. First, we have the company that provides the actual product to be improved through IoT, in this case Länsförsäkringar Stockholm. Then there isthe partner who needs to have both the strategic and technical expertise to understand the big picture.
Here, it is Polygon-owned Hiotlabs that is behind this. Besides the platform itself, Polygon also handles theinstallation. Hiotlabs (which is short for Hökarängens IoT Labs) is thus a central part of the offer. The company was founded in 2015 and since 2020 is part of Polygon, which through the acquisition wanted to strengthen itself in IoT solutions. In 2017, Andreas Rådlund, Chief Operating Officer, joined. He describes the merger with Polygon as: “Through the collaboration with Polygon we took a giant leap up. With that kind of expertise and offering behind you, you are not “another supplier of hardware and software, but take responsibility end-to-end. Polygon gave us deep knowledge of moisture and water damage, and the physical ability to install and act on damage, and a customer center to handle customer calls.”
What convinced us to choose Telenor was the fact that they were genuinely interested in IoT.
Andreas Rådlund, Chief Operating Officer at Hiotlabs
Joel Voltaire at Länsförsäkringar Stockholm could not be more satisfied with the cooperation: “After a thorough evaluation of several suppliers, we concluded that Hiotlabs best met our expectations for a comprehensive service. Water detection is at the heart of their offering and the combination of their ambition, entrepreneurial spirit and the support of Polygon became decisive in our choice.
The Internet of Things, IoT, has been on the map since the early 2000s. The recent rapid technological development means that the possibilities are now becoming clearer for more people. Connecting your products and collecting data in a better way is good for both suppliers and users. Here, smart water detection is a real prime use case.
Joel Voltaire and his colleagues at Länsförsäkringar Stockholm quickly came to the conclusion that control was also required over both the installation of the components and the connection. What they did not want to end up in was a situation where each customer would be responsible for their own combo of installation and connection. Because if you rely on the customer’s own variant, which can look very different from case to case, you risk losing control of the ability to always keep track of any water leaks. In addition, with connectivity, it is about being able to guarantee a sufficiently high level of data security. For installation and follow-up, we land with Hiotlab’s owner, Polygon. They have long had an interest in a collaboration, and Caroline Finslo, Business Development Manager at Polygon, says that this is because of seeing the future in data collection and analysis: “We have a great focus on digitization where we see digital solutions create new business models and opportunities. The water guard (Vattenvakten) is a great example; it becomes a completely unique thing when connecting several components and then up to the grid. The benefit for us, the insurance company and the end customer is enormous.”
Pierre Cardell, Head IoT Architect at Telenor: “For us, IoT is about more than just a technical solution. When Hiotlabs contacted us, it soon became clear that this was a challenge that was about more than just “connecting some hardware”. Security and energy efficiency were just two things that caused some of us to sit up late and do research on various IoT networks. But this is also what makes IoT so fun, it constantly gives birth to ideas about new opportunities. And you learn a huge amount from each completed project.
The possibilities of Vattenvakten raise many thoughts at Länsförsäkringar Stockholm about what similar types of solutions could do for other insurance areas.
To develop as a company today, dare to reach out and cooperate with partners, sometimes perhaps even with competitors. We believe that daring to invest in ecosystems is important in today’s fast-moving market. With Vattenvakten, we have gained a lot of energy, and think ‘what will be the next service that we can make more accessible, user-friendly and useful for customers?’
Joel Voltaire, Development and Strategy at Länsförsäkringar Stockholm