Burglar alarms and home insurance
Find out why getting a burglar alarm is a good idea, which types of alarms are available and how you can improve your home security.
Does having a burglar alarm lower the cost of home insurance?
Some home insurance providers will offer you cheaper premiums, but it depends on your insurer and the type of alarm system you have.
The cost of premiums will also depend on things like where you live, the type of building you live in, and other security measures you’ve got in place.
If you’re installing a burglar alarm to get an insurance discount, it’s worth shopping around and comparing quotes to help you find the right cover.
Remember, even if you don’t get money off, a burglar alarm can still provide you with protection and peace of mind.
- Some insurers will give you a discount if you have an approved home security system
- Burglar alarms tend to be either audible-only or monitored, where they’re connected to a 24-hour response centre
- Your insurer may want proof that your alarm is certified and professionally installed
- Lying about having an alarm is likely to invalidate any future burglary claim
- It’s important to look after your alarm system to keep it working - check what maintenance your insurer requires
Do I have to tell my insurance provider I have an alarm?
Usually, the more security you have the lower your home insurance costs. But even if you don’t get any discount, it’s still worth telling your insurer that you have an alarm.
However, never tell your insurer that you have one if you don’t - it’s likely this would invalidate any future burglary claim you might need to make.
Types of burglar alarm
Which alarm will suit you best depends on the level of security you’ll need and how much you can afford to pay.
If you’re thinking about getting one installed it’s worth looking into what type of alarm your insurer rewards with discounts.
The most common types of alarm to choose from are:
Unmonitored or audible-only alarms
When this type of alarm detects a break-in, it simply emits a noise with a siren or bell that’s fitted on the outside of the building. A flashing outdoor light is also normally triggered.
It isn’t monitored by an alarm response centre, but instead is there to deter the burglar and to attract the attention of people nearby.
This type of alarm is typically used for lower-risk homes, that have neighbouring properties.
These alarms are sometimes called ‘remote signalling’ alarms. While they cost more, they emit a noise and send a signal to a response centre that’s manned 24 hours a day.
The centre will have details of the system, your home and the nominated keyholders. And someone from the centre will call your home or a keyholder to check everything is ok.
Some monitored alarms have a police unique reference number, which allows the centre to contact the police’s control room and request an immediate response if needed.
Smart burglar alarms
This type of alarm lets you use an app to help you control the security of your home from your phone or tablet. And you get alerts on your app when the alarm is triggered.
Generally, smart home security systems use a series of devices that connect to your home’s WiFi rather than using regular alarm sensors.
You can either monitor the system yourself or pay a subscription to connect to a control centre that can notify the police - in the same way monitored alarms do.
What type of alarm do I need for my home insurance policy?
To get home insurance quotes you’ll be asked several questions about your home security.
As well as wanting to know about the locks on your windows and doors, your insurer will ask if you have a burglar alarm.
If you have an alarm, you’ll be asked what type it is - your insurer will need to know whether it’s been certified, installed, and maintained by an approved organisation.
Typically, you’ll be given the following options to choose from:
- Norwich Union Direct (NUD)
- National Approval Council of Security Systems (NACOSS)
- Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB)
If you don’t see your alarm on the list, select 'Other alarm'. You may need to provide more details about the alarm if you take out a policy.
Am I insured if I fit a burglar alarm myself?
Although installing a burglar alarm yourself is likely to be cheaper, there’s a chance you might not set it up right or place it in the right location.
To provide you with cover, your insurer may want proof that your alarm has been certified by the National Security Inspectorate or the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board.
They may also ask for documentation to show its installation meets their requirements.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to get your alarm installed by a certified professional.
How to maintain your home alarm system
It’s important to look after your alarm system to keep it working properly. To do this you should:
1. Get your alarm regularly serviced - once a year should be enough for audible-only alarms, and twice a year is recommended for monitored systems.
2. Check on external obstructions - trim back trees and bushes that are near your external alarm and keep internal sensors clear of dust and debris.
3. Test your alarm regularly - especially if you’re due to go away. To do a system test either speak to the company that installed it or, if it’s unmonitored - arm your system, open the door and let the siren sound for 30 seconds.
Check your policy documents to see whether your alarm needs to be serviced annually.
Alternatives to home burglar alarms
Other ways to help make your home more secure and less attractive to burglars are:
- Get a dummy alarm - while it won’t make any difference to your insurance premium, dummy alarms can be a cheap and easy way to deter thieves
- Keep hedges low - trimming hedges and foliage so they’re under one metre provides fewer places to hide
- Install motion sensor lighting - lights triggered when someone walks in front of them mean intruders can’t approach without being seen
- Fit secure locks - burglars will try doors and windows first, so get good locks fitted - insurers favour five-lever mortice locks and key-operated window locks
- Don’t leave keys near the door - burglars will try to fish them out through letterboxes and cat flaps, they’re also likely to check under doormats and plant pots for spare keys
- Use timers when you go away - if your house looks occupied it’s a good deterrent, so set lights to come on at intervals and ask someone to open and close curtains
- Join a Neighbourhood Watch programme - having people who keep an eye out and will report any suspicious activity can help to reduce household crime