Allianz: Outsmarting musical instrument thieves
The FINANCIAL — Allianz Musical Insurance in the UK offers its customers a new service: with SmartWater, each instrument receives a unique invisible identification.
A rare and precious violin, such as a Stradivarius can cost as much as a mansion. But even amateur musicians form a strong bond with their guitar, clarinet or bass and it’s a very emotional experience to have a musical instrument broken, damaged or stolen.
This is why Allianz Insurance plc in the UK now offers a special service with their musical instrument insurance policies, which is designed to quickly identify a stolen instrument’s owner.
A different recipe for each bottle
The service is based on a forensic security coding product, called SmartWater – the first tangible product to have been incorporated into an insurance policy. “SmartWater is a water-based cocktail made out of twelve different ingredients”, explains Paul Crump, musical insurance manager for Allianz Insurance.
“Like DNA, SmartWater’s make-up is unique each time it is used”, Crump continues. “It’s harmless and easy to apply, virtually invisible and almost impossible to remove. But it fluoresces under UV light, which makes it easy for law enforcement to detect.” Once the police have found a SmartWater trace on a stolen item, the SmartWater company then can “read” its code and return the stolen property to the rightful owner.
Deterrent to thieves and burglars
“But the great thing is that SmartWater reduces the threat,” says Crump. “A recent study has shown that 91 percent of UK criminals are aware of the SmartWater technology. 74 percent of the offenders interviewed admitted they would be deterred from breaking into a building by a SmartWater sign.” The study, led by Martin Gill, Professor of Criminology at the University of Leicester, identified SmartWater as being more effective in deterring experienced criminals than security guards, burglar alarms, ink-dye tags and closed circuit TV.
“SmartWater really is a criminal’s worst nightmare,” says Crump – just one billionth of a part is enough to provide irrefutable evidence to secure convictions.
Since Allianz began including the technology with its musical instrument policies in September 2007, the claim rate has decreased because of the SmartWater labels displayed on the instrument cases. Allianz Insurance is now planning to introduce a similar offer to all its Home & Legacy customers.
In addition, SmartWater is in contact with law enforcement authorities in several other countries – their support is a precondition to individuals being able to protect their valuables with the new technology. And maybe one day, Allianz customers across the globe will benefit from it.