Halifax General Insurance

Halifax General Insurance

February 26, 2013 05:29 ET

Digital Home Index Reveals A Nation That Can't Switch Off

Halifax Home Insurance reveals GBP 32bn insurance black hole despite dependence on technology

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Feb. 26, 2013) - Over 22 million of us (45%) now use technology devices to communicate with friends and family even when they're in the same house, with one in five (22%) preferring to speak on the phone or via social media rather than face to face, a new study has revealed.

The inaugural Halifax Insurance Digital Home Index, new annual research, reveals that three-quarters (73%) of the UK population would struggle to go one day without technology devices such as smartphones, laptops and MP3 players, while 35 million (74%) of us check emails and social networks before starting work in the morning.

The research - the first of its kind to monitor how the use of technology is changing the way we communicate inside and outside the home - found that technology is creating a nation of multi-taskers, who each own an average £4,164 worth of technology devices.1

The rise in the number of portable devices we own is creating a nation that can't switch off, with 12 million (25%) checking technology devices from their beds, and one in 10 even taking theirs into the bathroom.

Dr Aric Sigman, psychologist, says: "As the amount of time spent looking at a screen or plugging in increases, the amount of time spent on direct eye-to-eye contact and developing real life relationships inevitably decreases. By the age of seven years, the average child born today will have spent one full year of 24 hour days watching screen technology; by the time they reach 80 they will have spent almost 18 years of 24 hour days watching non-work related screen technology. That's a quarter of their lives.

"The over-use of technology is an issue affecting all age groups; from young adults, for whom technology is now a central part of life, to parents who will be experiencing both how their over-use of technology affects them individually and how it creates barriers to family interaction. We have to remind ourselves that technology should be a tool, not a burden or obstruction, and at the moment it seems the tail is wagging the dog."

The study also revealed that investing in technology is now twice as important as spending on beauty grooming to UK consumers, while double the amount of respondents would prefer to lose their wedding or engagement ring than their smartphone.

However, with more than one in 10 without sufficient insurance for their technology items, this is creating a potential £32bn insurance black hole2.

Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance, said: "We are a switched on nation, increasingly reliant on gizmos and gadgetry to help us stay connected and communicate. However, it's surprising that despite high investment and heavy reliance on technology, people are still willing to risk losing their items and digital content by failing to ensure they have adequate insurance cover."

"With almost one in five people not insuring their items, this leaves the UK overwhelmingly exposed to the tune of £32bn on gadgets alone."

Come dine with me

Bedrooms are transforming into technology hubs and are now second only to the living room when it comes to the number of devices used. In a blow for the traditional mainstay of the family get-together, the Halifax Insurance Digital Home Index revealed that almost one in 10 (9%) respondents use their phone during mealtimes - a figure that doubles for those aged 18-24. For those aged over 45, the television was shown to be the dinner guest of choice, with a fifth (19%) keeping a television set in their dining room.

Reliant on technology

For over 35 million (73%) of us, a day without technology devices would be a struggle - almost a quarter (23%) would feel 'uneasy or worried', while one in five (19%) would feel concern about 'missing out'. Women are more concerned than men when it comes to remaining connected, despite regarding technology as a lower investment priority than men (women own £4,058 worth of technology devices, whilst males own £4,294 each).

Multi-tasking nation

Even when we are in front of our technology devices, half of us admit to regularly using other devices at the same time. Women are more likely than men to 'layer' devices, with over half (53%) using their laptop while watching television, compared to 43% of men. The use of smartphones revealed a similar trend, with 40% of women watching the television at the same time (compared to 31% of men), and 27% using a laptop/PC simultaneously (compared to 21% of men).

Dr Sigman continued: "One of the major issues arising from our use of technology is 'compound media use', known as multi-tasking. While people might feel that they're being more efficient by 'layering' multiple devices, as they become increasingly dependent on multiple sources of information, this can end up being counterproductive, leading them to be less able to concentrate on tasks and analyse information at a deeper level, and may ultimately reduce our ability to focus and learn. We're going for breadth at the expense of depth."

Technology uncovered

Our technology devices are indispensable tools for every-day life: 46 million (96%) of the UK population take their mobile phone with them when outside the home, over 9 million (19%) take their MP3 player, and 20 million use their digital camera away from the home. Yet the Halifax Insurance Digital Home Index reveals that just a third (33%) of us has insurance cover for their items when taken outside the home.

A digital age

The rise of technology devices available has brought with it a dramatic increase in digital content - two thirds of us (70%) now store music digitally, and almost half (46%) own digital film content. Yet just one in ten of us (9%) has insurance cover for our digital content, with a further two thirds (60%) unsure if this is covered by their current policy. Furthermore, as a nation we aren't any better at protecting sentimental items; eight in ten (86%) now store photos digitally, but just a third (32%) are confident that this content is backed up.

Martyn Foulds added: "Many devices are becoming more and more multi-purpose in terms of storing photos, music, films and e-books, amongst other things and thereby enabling us to create personal hubs of information. Yet, it seems that ensuring these items are covered by insurance, or backed up, is not a priority, meaning many of us face a very real risk of losing our most treasured items."

Keeping your property safe: advice from Halifax Home Insurance

  1. Out of sight
    At home keep any expensive items out of sight and locked away where possible. Smaller items such as tablets, e-readers and smartphones are relatively easy to put in a cupboard or drawer. Where possible, make sure bigger items such as flat screen televisions and audio systems can't be seen from the street so they're not advertised to would-be thieves.
  1. On the move
    Demand for portable items is high and they can be easily reprogrammed and resold, making them extremely attractive to thieves. Reduce your reliance on your phone, tablet or designer headphones and it will be easier to be more discreet when using these items in public. When you're not using them, keep these valuables zipped safely in a pocket or bag. If they're being kept in the car, make sure that they're not in plain view.
  1. Picture this
    When you buy or receive a new, valuable device, make sure that you keep the receipts and take photographs of the item. This will help to ensure that your insurance claim is processed as quickly as possible. If you're storing this evidence electronically, make sure that it is backed up - either on an external hard drive or in cloud storage.
  1. Password protected
    While the value of a device might be high, the chances are that the information stored on it is even more valuable and harder to replace. Make sure that you have different passwords on all devices and wherever possible, choose the option to wipe the data if the incorrect password is entered a certain number of items.
  1. Make your mark
    Use an ultra violet pen to write your postcode on your valuables items to make them easier to identify.

For more information visit http://www.halifax.co.uk/insurance.

Notes to editors

The research was conducted by One Poll in January 2013 on a nationally representative survey of 2,500 adults aged 18 and over living in the UK. The survey was conducted by an online poll.

Halifax Home Solutions is underwritten by Lloyds TSB General Insurance Limited and has a 5 Star Defaqto rating. Halifax Home Options is underwritten by a panel of insurers in order to source a competitive premium for customers.

1 Respondents were questioned on the types of devices they own, which included television, smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop, DVD player, digital camera, games consoles.

2 The Halifax Insurance Digital Home Index revealed that 16% of respondents don't have any insurance cover for their technology devices. With the current UK adult population at 48,085,000 and an average £4,163.58 of technology devices per adult, this equates to an estimate of £32,032,919,088 of technology devices that are not covered by insurance policies.

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