Which alarm system should I install in my home?
Having a burglar alarm fitted into your home is one way to protect what matters most to you. There are several types of alarms to choose from, to provide the level of home security you need, but your home insurance may ask that it meets specific requirements in order to validate your policy.
To help you decide which home alarm is best for you, we’ve listed essential information below – including what 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 when there’s a break in. If 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 much quicker.
- 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’ll be ignored and go unreported – as security company ADT reports that one in three activated alarms go unnoticed1.
- 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 straight away. It may be worth considering one of the options above for more effective home security.
How do I maintain my 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. Below we’ve provided some handy tips for looking 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.
- To reduce the risk of false alarms, 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 it’s a requirement in your home insurance for these annual check-ups.
How do home alarm systems affect my insurance policy?
For those who’ve just moved house, looking to renew their home insurance or take out a new policy, you’ll be asked about your home security and whether there’s a home alarm system installed. Below we’ve listed 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 requires2.
Certified Security Firms
The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and Security Systems & 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, as if it doesn’t it will invalidate your policy when you need to make a claim. 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.
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