Liberty Mutual Insurance hopes to advance the use of telematics in the home, with promises of extra discounts to customers who use a high-tech smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and agree to share the data it produces.

The move comes as insurers such as Progressive and others roll out wireless telematics devices to monitor customer driving behavior in exchange for additional insurance discounts.

Massachusetts-based Liberty Mutual disclosed recently that it has begun a partnership with high-tech smoke alarm company Nest (owned by Google) that would provide the company’s products to participating insurance clients.

Here’s how it would work: Clients who choose to use the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm become eligible for discounts through Liberty Mutual’s Smart Home Verified Discount program. They can gain additional discounts for choosing to share data proving the alarm devices are functioning properly.

Specifically, customers authorize Nest to tell Liberty Mutual on a monthly basis if the Nest Protect batteries are charged, sensors are in order and the Wi-Fi connection is functional. The Nest device is controllable through a typical smart phone, and the alarm can also be silenced this way, according to Nest’s website.

Liberty Mutual said the new initiative builds on its ongoing Protective Devices discount program, which has been broadened to include smart-phone enabled smoke alarms and water and theft protection technology.

Michael Robon, senior vice president and property product manager for Liberty Mutual Insurance, said that the technology and the program offers customers a way to boost safety and also save money.

“We believe customers seeking to monitor their homes with devices like Nest Protect demonstrate responsible behavior,” Robon said in prepared remarks. “As a result, we will be offering these customers reduced pricing on their home insurance policy.”

Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, told Carrier Management via email that the Liberty Mutual program reflects a logical extension of telematics into the home.

“In 2011 22 percent of all homeowners claims were from water damage and frozen pipes. Another 19 percent was from fire and lightning. In fact, about one in 55 insured homes have a property damage claim caused by water damage or freezing each year, about one in 200 insured homes have a property damage claim due to theft each year and about one in 220 insured homes have a property damage claim related to fire, lightning or debris removal every year,” Worters said. “Telematics can help mitigate against such losses and insurers are now starting to offer discounts to reflect that. ”

Liberty Mutual said it is offering the program initially in Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Main and Wisconsin, as of June 22. It will expand to additional states through the year.

The insurer isn’t the only one to launch a home smoke alarm telematics program. As the Boston Globe reported, American Family Insurance Co. of Wisconson unveiled a similar effort, also in a handful of states.

Source: Liberty Mutual Insurance