Home security and your insurance

Find out how you can improve your home security and how it affects the price of your home insurance.

Amy Smith

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Why upgrade your home security?

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were:

  • 669,000 incidents of domestic burglary between January and December 2018
  • 662,000 incidents of ‘other household theft’, stealing a wheelie bin, car, or caravan, for example
  • 1.1 million incidents of criminal damage

Protecting your home against theft and damage should be at the forefront of your mind and keeping your house safe can also lower the cost of your home insurance.

Key points

  • Tell your insurer about your home security and how you use it
  • If you’re spending a fortune on high-tech security, it won’t reduce the cost of your home insurance enough to break even
  • Deterring thieves could be the biggest saving of all

Types of home security

Door locks

When you get quotes for home insurance, you’ll be asked whether your locks meet British Standards (BS).

Look for the British Standards Kite Mark and the British Standards number on your locks. BS3621 is the one most used for domestic locks, and it’s the type usually preferred by insurers.

Older locks might not have an easily noticeable mark, and some might even need removing from your door to find it.

Top tip: Make sure you keep your keys and valuables out of sight, out of reach, and away from dog or cat flaps

Window locks

The Crime Survey for England and Wales noted that burglars entered through a window around 30% of the time.

Some insurers might require all downstairs or accessible windows to have locks.

If you have windows with key-operated locks, keep them locked, and make sure even the smallest of windows are kept shut and locked overnight.

If you’re thinking about replacing your windows, get a security accredited product tested to British Standards.

Burglar alarms

A professionally accredited and properly installed burglar alarm can work both as a deterrent if it’s visible, and as a warning if your home’s broken into.

If you’ve told your insurer you have an alarm, make sure it’s armed overnight, and when you’re not at home.

Monitored systems and smart security

If you have a monitored alarm system, a private security company will monitor your property 24/7.

The company will call you (or one of your nominated keyholders) if the alarm goes off.

Smart burglar alarms will message you if they detect an intruder. They can also be programmed to turn on the lights, TV or radio to deter potential thieves.

Most alarms come with a National Security Inspectorate (NSI) hallmark to show that they meet certain standards.

You can fit burglar alarms yourself, if you can provide proof of the alarm’s NSI certification.

Security cameras

CCTV doesn’t have to be costly - you can get good security cameras for under £100.

When installing CCTV, point the cameras away from public spaces and your neighbours’ properties as much as possible.

Garden security

Secure garages, sheds, outbuildings and garden storage units with sturdy locks and keep the keys in the house, out of sight.

Cover for items kept in the garden is usually included in your home insurance, but make sure it covers everything you need it to.

Security lights

Whether manual or automatic, outdoor lights can put burglars off by making them and the area more visible.

Crime and home insurance

Security measures in your home isn’t the only thing that dictates the price of your home insurance.

High crime rates in your area and the type of building you live in will affect your insurance premiums.

Insurers will have requirements you need to meet to make sure your cover's valid. An example might be getting a burglar alarm installed if you live in an area with a high crime rate.

Holidays and home security tips

If you’re going on holiday, your home could be an easy target for thieves.

  • Don’t post about your trip on social media
  • Ask someone you trust to switch lights on and off, open and shut curtains, and pick up your post
  • Tidy up the garden and trim overgrowth, so there's nowhere for thieves to hide
  • Plug in timers to trigger lamps, and turn TVs and radios on and off
  • Cancel any regular deliveries, secure your valuables and lock everything up

Home security myths

  1. Old people are the most at risk of being burgled

    If you have valuables on display or if your home looks like an easy target, you’re at risk whatever age you are

  2. A good place to hide your valuables is under the bed

    Unless you store your valuables in a safe, they’re never completely secure

  3. It’s safe to post about your holiday on social media

    An unprotected social media account filled with holiday photos advertises that you’re not around and your home is empty. It could even invalidate your home insurance if you’re burgled while you’re away

  4. Burglar alarms are too unreliable to be worth the expense and effort

    There’s a home security system to suit every budget. You can get doorbells that recognise faces or inexpensive CCTV cameras. They’re designed to deter and catch crime, whatever you spend.

  5. I’ve already got everything I need to deter a burglar

    There’s always more you can do. Have you got ‘Beware of the dog’ and ‘CCTV in operation’ stickers on your windows?

How to keep your home safe from burglary

Prevention is better than cure, so as well as having a good security system and hiding valuables and keys, here are a few other things you can do to make your home less attractive to burglars:

  • Make sure your garden fences are secure and lock any back gates
  • Lock away ladders or tools that could be used to break into your home
  • Consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
  • Mark your property with your postcode and house number and register your valuables with Immobilise
  • Even having a noisy gravel path or driveway could help to discourage thieves
  • Keep sensitive documents and bills out of sight to reduce the chance of identity theft

Home insurance guides and tools

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