Which alarm system should you get for your home?

There are several types of alarm system to choose from, but your home insurance provider may ask that it meets specific requirements in order to validate your policy.

Having a burglar alarm fitted into your home is one way to protect what matters most to you.

To help you decide which home alarm is best for you, we’ve listed some information about the standards systems should meet and how to keep them well maintained.

Types of home alarm systems

Installing a home alarm can deter thieves from attempting to break in to your house, as well as notify you and the authorities if there’s a break in. Whether you’re looking for a professional to install your alarm, or are fitting it yourself, below are some different types for you to bear in mind:

  • Wired or wireless? Wired systems are usually installed by a security company, due to the labour required to hide any lingering wires. The system itself can be cheaper than a wireless system, but installation costs are higher. Wireless alarms are battery-powered, and can be set up more quickly
  • Bells-only alarms are cheap and the most common option. If set off, it emits a loud noise for up to 20 minutes until turned off, and the box flashes as a visual cue outside your home. Not only does it notify you (if you’re at home), but it’ll also let your neighbours know. It may work as a deterrent, however there’s the risk it will be ignored and go unreported 
  • Monitored alarms are connected to an external security company that monitors your alarm for a fee. Typically, they’ll call you and request a password should your alarm go off, but if you don’t answer the phone, or the password isn’t given, the police or ‘nominated key-holders’ are informed
  • Dummy alarms are non-functioning boxes that look like home alarms; these can be fitted outside your house to act as a deterrent. They’re cheap, and are a way to discourage opportunistic thieves, however professional burglars may notice a fake alarm straight away. It may be worth considering one of the options above for more effective home security

How to maintain your home alarm system

Once you’ve set up your home alarm, it’s vital you look after it to ensure it functions properly - as poor maintenance could invalidate your policy if you need to make a claim. 

To look after your burglar alarm:

  • Keep it clean and regularly check for any damage or if it’s been moved – especially before going away on holiday. Make sure you trim any obstructions, such as trees or bushes
  • Have it checked by a professional once a year if it’s a sound-only alarm, and twice a year if it’s monitored. Check your policy documents to see if annual check-ups are required by your home insurance policy 

How home alarm systems affect your insurance policy

If you’ve just moved house, are looking to renew your home insurance or take out a new policy, you’ll be asked about your home security and whether a home alarm system is installed. 

Here are the minimum standards alarms may need to meet, but refer to insurance documents for your specific requirements.

British Standards (BS)

BS 4737 is the code that certifies the standard for intruder alarms.

BS 7042 certifies high security intruder alarms.

BS 6799 Class VI certifies wireless alarms in buildings.

European Standards (EN)

BS EN 50131 is a standard adopted across Europe to cover all the codes mentioned above - accepted by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). European Standards provide a grading system that look at the risk to the property (Grade 1 – low, Grade 4 – High), which determines what level of security your home requires 1.

Certified Security Firms

The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) are both certified bodies consumers may see on their security products. It means the product you’ve purchased is safe and meets safety standards, and the company provides quality work. Check your insurance policy to see if your alarm is required to be installed and maintained by a NSI or SSAIB approved company.

Your home insurance may require your home alarm to meet the standards or to be approved by one of the firms mentioned above. Also, poor maintenance of your alarm could invalidate a claim, if you need to make one, so it’s important to take care of your security systems.

Home alarms systems are one of many ways to secure your home, however this alone will not guarantee break-in prevention; read through some of our home security guides to find out more about other ways you can protect your home.

How to secure your home from the inside

The most precious things to us are often found in our homes, yet we sometimes don't do enough to protect them. Look after what means most to you with some basic home security improvements.

How to secure your home from the outside

According to the police, homes that have basic security measures in place are far less likely to be targeted by thieves. Read on for some top tips on protecting your home from the outside 1 .

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