Protecting your home from potential break-ins should always be a top priority. Insuring your home so that you are covered should a break-in occur is of course vitally important too. In actual fact, security and insurance go hand in hand because, without adhering to certain security measures and standards that may be applied, you’ll often risk invalidating the very thing that should be protecting you.
When you invest in a home insurance policy, there are usually warranties to comply with. These are set down by the insurer. Many are security related and govern things like the types of locks that are acceptable for doors and windows, and what security measures should be in place, such as intruder alarms.
Failure to comply with warranties can lead to the insurance provider refusing to honour a claim, so it’s vital to be aware of what is required.
Let’s take a look at some of the security measures that are recommended by crime prevention experts, alongside typical demands set down by insurance providers.
Recommendation: Fit high security locks
Crime prevention experts recommend locks on final exit doors that can be deadlocked, with the ability to remove the key from either side. This means that once locked, the doors cannot be exited or accessed without a key.
Window locks are also recommended. All locks should also be able to resist drilling with regular tools for up to five minutes and should also include anti-picking and anti-bumping features.
Insurance requirements for locks
Generally, insurers require main entry doors to be fitted with a five-lever mortice deadlock which conforms to British Standard BS3621. Locks of this nature usually have the relevant Kitemark stamped on the faceplate. Patio or French doors usually need to be fitted either with a multipoint locking system, a central rail key operated lock or a top or bottom lock. Requirements do vary, so it is crucial to check them carefully.
For windows, most insurance providers expect all accessible windows to be fitted with key-operated locks. This should be regarded as those that could be reached by an intruder standing on adjacent ground or an external staircase; or that could readily be reached by climbing, e.g. via adjacent single storey roof areas, bay windows, porches, pediments, adjacent soil/drainage pipes, walls or trees, etc. Window locks should always be in use during the night or when the property is empty.
As far as all locks are concerned, as simple as it may sound, they need to be used. If an intruder gains access to a property through an unlocked door or window, then it is unlikely that an insurer will honour a claim.
Recommendation: Install an intruder alarm
There are three core types of intruder alarm system.
A monitored system, once triggered, will automatically alert an alarm company or designated key holder to verify that it is not a false alarm, followed by raising an alert with the emergency services or response centre on confirmation that it is a true call.
Unmonitored alarms, or ‘bells only’ alarms, simply sound an audible alarm. These are designed as a deterrent for would-be intruders and also act to alert neighbours.
Smart alarms send alerts by text or voice call to pre-set key holders so that they can attend themselves or summon the emergency services.
Insurance requirements for intruder alarms
Insurance providers tend to base their requirement for an intruder alarm on the level of risk of the insured property and the area in which it is situated.
Some will require alarm to be installed by a National Security Inspectorate (NSI) approved company. If yours has, then you will be provided with a Certificate of Compliance which your insurer will usually request sight of. Insurers often demand that intruder alarms are regularly maintained by an inspectorate listed company, such as NSI NACOSS Gold.
Again there will be a requirement for the alarm to actually be used. Some insurers will stipulate that intruder alarms are activated when the property is left empty. In addition, many will set down particular requirements concerning the type of alarm that they consider acceptable. Bells only may be suitable for lower risk properties, whilst those considered higher risk will usually be asked to fit a monitored alarm that is managed by an inspectorate listed company such as the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or the Security Systems Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB).
If you change your maintenance contract or review the alarm system itself then you will need to let your insurer know.
Standards wise, a lot of policies will require the intruder alarm to comply with British Standards BS 8243: 2010 (confirmation system standard), BS 5979 (alarm receiving centre standard) and European Standards PD 6662: 2010 and EN 50131 (general standards).
CCTV offers a double set of benefits. The first is that it acts as a deterrent. The mere sight of a CCTV system can be enough to put would-be intruders off going ahead with a break-in. In addition, CCTV provides valuable evidence to support prosecutions and insurance claims.
Crime prevention experts recommend that CCTV footage is set to capture the head and face of a potential criminal to aid recognition, and that cameras should be positioned with this in mind. Dummy cameras are not recommended as it is believed that thieves are able to identify these.
CCTV is relatively straightforward to install nowadays, with Wi-Fi connected systems relaying triggered footage to smart devices so that you can monitor your property from wherever you may be.
Insurance requirements for CCTV
Some insurers will make CCTV a requirement of cover, but this will depend upon the level of risk.
In some instances you may find that your cover requires the CCTV to comply with British Standard BS EN 62676. This standard governs the quality of the features of the system, requiring things like easily accessible and playable data and ease of exporting recordings.
There are various means of protecting your home; we have covered just the main ones: those that insurance providers tend to demand and make warranties on.
The key thing to remember is that when you provide information to an insurer, you must be completely truthful and upfront. If you are uncertain in any way as to whether your security measures comply with the requirements they set down, then be sure to openly discuss it. It is wise to take advice from a reputable security company too.
Always bear in mind that failure to comply with insurance warranties is likely to invalidate a claim. Also it is important to remember that security related requirements vary from one provider to another, so checking your warranties should you change insurer is essential.