Locks and home insurance

Defining the type of locks on your doors, windows, rooflights and skylights is crucial when it comes to home insurance and improving security could offer benefits.

When you compare quotes for home insurance through Gocompare.com you'll be asked what type of locks you have on exterior doors and windows.

This question can sometimes stump people, but at every point there'll be images and help text to enable you to give an accurate answer.

We've also produced a video guide (above), and there's more information on this page about types of lock, security and home insurance.

Most homes are secured by one or more of the following types of lock, whether that be on entrance doors (your front door), windows, back doors or patio doors. Five-lever mortice deadlock

Five-lever mortice deadlock

With a five-lever mortice deadlock, the locking mechanism is embedded (or 'morticed') into a slot in the door and the strike plate is fitted to the door frame.

A key is always needed to operate the lock (usually this will be a 'Chubb' key).

The face plate of the locking mechanism will usually state how many levers the lock has..

See the accompanying picture to identify whether this is the type of lock you have.

Insurers may insist that you must have a five-lever lock conforming to BS3621, British standards, on all exit doors and key-operated locks on all ground floor and accessible windows.British Standard 3621 Kitemark

A five-lever mortice deadlock conforming to BS3621 is locked and unlocked by a key from either side, and has additional security features incorporated into its design.

Typical examples of such additional security would be anti-pick features and hardened steel plates.

This type of lock cannot be fitted to uPVC or aluminium doors and often can't be fitted to composite doors.

A BS3621 lock will always be stamped with the British Standard 3621 Kitemark (normally on the face plate of the locking mechanism), like the kitemark pictured.

Don't ever be tempted to fib to your insurer about the level of your home security.

"If you tell your insurer that you have a burglar alarm or that you have locks on your windows, then they will expect you to use them," says Gocompare.com's Ben Wilson.

"So if your alarm isn't maintained or you do not lock your windows, then your insurer may refuse to pay out should you need to make a claim.

"The most expensive insurance policy you can buy is one that isn't valid, so make sure to be as honest and as accurate as possible to ensure your insurer will pay out should you need to make a claim."Rim automatic dead latch with key locking handle

Rim automatic deadlatch with key locking handles

A Rim automatic deadlatch with key-locking handle is mounted on the inside of the door (see accompanying picture).

A cylinder within the lock connects to the keyhole on the outside of the door.

With this type of lock the door is locked and unlocked by key from either side.

Such locks are sometimes used as an additional security measure rather than the main lock.

If it is the main lock, remember that you have a duty of care to protect your home, and you may not receive the most competitive quote if your security measures are considered insufficient.

Remember also that insurers are only likely to pay out in the event of a claim if the lock is used.

If your home is burgled through an open window or door then your policy may be invalid, regardless of the type of lock you've installed.Key-operated multi-point locking system

Multi-point locking system

A multi-point locking system has a minimum of three locking points that all lock simultaneously by the turn of a key (see accompanying picture).

These are most common on patio or French doors - typically uPVC doors - and less common for main entrance points.

Some properties may use such a lock on the principle point of entry, though, and insurers will assess risk accordingly.

Patio and French doorsTop and bottom operated lock

When assessing your level of home security you'll also be asked about the locks fitted to your patio or French doors.

These doors are usually more vulnerable to attack and so may be seen as a greater security risk.

Your patio or French doors will usually be fitted with either a multi-point locking system (as described above), a top and bottom lock (see accompanying picture) or a central rail key operated lock, as described below.

A top and bottom lock has the most basic level of security of these three, and is usually used as an additional measure in conjunction with a multi-point locking system or a central rail key-operated lock.

They are fitted inside the doors at the top and bottom of the frame.

A central rail key-operated locking system is a locking system that's fitted to the central (vertical) rail where the doors overlap.Central rail key operated lock

If your French doors are wooden a lock should always be fitted at 90 degrees to the grain of the wood, reducing the likelihood of splitting if the wood is subjected to pressure.

Accessible windows and key-operated locks

In our home insurance quotes process you'll be asked whether your property has any accessible windows, and whether those windows are protected by key-operated locks.

You should only answer 'yes' if every accessible window is secured with a key-operated lock.

Accessible windows are those that are at ground floor or basement level, or within easy reach of the ground and capable of being opened (such as a first-floor window above a flat-roofed, single-storey extension). This also applies to skylights and/or rooflights.Holiday home

Key-operated locks on windows are normally located on the handle used to open the window, although this will depend on the style, age and type of window fitted.

Additional security measures

Nightlatches are mounted onto a door and are usually used as an extra security measure as opposed to a sole lock.

These can be used as an additional lock from the inside and could, as an additional security measure, reduce the cost of your home insurance.

However, the cost of installing additional security measures may not always bring down the cost of your premium. Even if they do, the saving may not cover the cost of the outlay.

"Home security can be a grey area when it comes to your home insurance," said Wilson.

"For example, if you don't have a burglar alarm then adding a £500 security system is highly unlikely to reduce the cost of your premium to an extent that will justify the cost of buying and fitting it.

"However, it's worth noting that good home security can reduce the chance that you will have to make a claim in the first place, saving you money and hassle in the long run."

If you do decide to change your security measures, make sure you let your insurer know and keep your policy up-to-date.

By Emily Bater