Renters may want to think twice before buying Amazon Key


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UPDATED: 2018-02-23T16:17:00.809Z
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An Amazon box sits unopened on the floor of a home.

Amazon has a response for the millions of packages that are stolen off the doorstep of Americans each year. But at what cost to consumers?

The initial cost is a given. Amazon customers will need to pay $249 for the secure-lock service it calls Amazon Key that allows the company’s delivery drivers to open the customer’s front door electronically and place the package inside the home. With the purchase, customers get a smart lock, as well as a Cloud Cam monitoring camera that allows them to watch the delivery in real-time on the Amazon Key app.

The risk that can’t be calculated is the potential cost of allowing a stranger into the customer’s home or apartment unsupervised. This is a risk that Amazon customers who are considering buying Amazon Key should consider, especially those without homeowners insurance or renters insurance.

Allowing a stranger to enter while no one is home comes with an inherent risk. Amazon understands that risk, and for that reason, the camera is designed to provide security and peace-of-mind for the customer. However, even homes with security systems are still broken into, so it’s not hard to imagine that a home with a Cloud Cam can be robbed, too.

When Amazon announced the news of Amazon Key’s scheduled release, slated for November 8th, online users flooded comment sections and social media expressing their fear of allowing a stranger access to their front door. What if the driver forgets to shut the door all the way? What if a robber sneaks in past the delivery person? What if the smart lock is hacked by a burglar. What if the Amazon delivery driver doesn’t simply drop the package inside the door, but takes a walk through the home?

Many perceive Amazon Key as an open invitation for burglary. So, what protection will Amazon Key consumers have in the event their belongings are stolen as a result of the high-tech device? Standard homeowners insurance and renters insurance provide coverage for theft of personal property. For example, if a homeowner had a laptop stolen, the insurance company would cover the cost up to the policy’s limit, less the deductible.

Amazon does have the “Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee,” which allows Amazon Key users to file a claim if “the in-home delivery was not completed to your satisfaction, or your product or property was damaged as a direct result of the in-home delivery.” This offers some protection for customers if something happens during the delivery, but it’s worth noting that it only specifies damage and not stolen items. Additionally, Amazon doesn’t specify how it processes claims.

Given the uncertainty around what and how much is covered by Amazon’s Happiness Guarantee, having homeowners or renters insurance would provide the highest level of protection in the event of a claim.

The problem is many of Amazon’s customers are millennials without renters insurance. Millennials represent Amazon’s highest percentage of Prime customers by generation, and 40 percent of all renters are millennials, according to Pew Research Center. While most homeowners buy insurance, the same can’t be said for renters. Only 41 percent of renters have renters insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

This means that Amazon’s largest user base is also the least covered generation when it comes to insurance. So in the event of a robbery as a result of Amazon Key, many residents may not be covered to replace those personal belongings.

It may be wise for consumers, especially renters without insurance, to wait to see others’ experiences with Amazon Key before investing in the product.


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