ARTICLE: Keeping Your Home Safe This Winter
As winter draws in and the hours of darkness increase, it is often the time when security comes more to the forefront of our minds. According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 669,000 incidents of domestic burglary in 2018 and it was reported that burglaries spiked by one third after the clocks went back, so we are justified in our need to feel safe during the winter months. But what can you do to improve the security of your home and what difference if any do some of these measures make to your insurance premiums?
Getting the basics right
Improving your security can be as simple as making sure doors are locked, gates are closed and perimeter fencing is well maintained. Creating a physical barrier can go a long way in creating a psychological barrier to potential intruders.
Make sure your door and window locks meet British Standards (BS) – look for the British Standards Kite Mark and the British Standards number – BS3621 is the one most commonly used for domestic locks. Older locks might not have an easily identifiable mark and might even need removing to find it. If you have windows with key-operated locks, keep them locked, and make sure event the smallest of windows are kept shut and locked overnight.
Secure garages, sheds, outbuildings and garden storage units with sturdy locks and keep the keys in the house, out of sight. Tidy up the garden and trim overgrowth so there’s not where for thieves to hide. Noisy gravel paths and driveways can be a great deterrent for would be intruders. You can read more about garden security in our article here.
A professionally accredited and properly installed burglar alarms can work both as a deterrent if it’s visible (it is understood that 84% of burglars would avoid a property with an alarm system) and as a warning if your home is broken into.
There are different types of alarms:
· Bells only – these will just make a noise, which will scare off intruders and hopefully alert someone in your neighbourhood. This may not be the best option unless you have a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
· Monitored – these come in different forms but when triggered they will either call or text a given phone number, notify a monitoring company or the police.
External CCTV is a good deterrent for burglars and may also help track down your possessions if you are unfortunately burgled. Newer systems are cheap and easy to install and you can opt for a wireless system if you don’t want the fuss of wires and cables running through your property.
Smartphones and other connected gadgets have come to play a crucial role in helping people manage their lives, and there are plenty of options when it comes to securing your home.
The latest burglar alarms are smart home hubs that contact you via your phone when they sense an intruder. You can also program them to deter burglars by say, turning on the lights or radio.
Smart doorbells add a further layer of security to your home. These detect motion and allow you to see and speak to anyone approaching the house. The camera has infrared LEDs so you get a good picture even at night and you can install them around your property to cover all entrances.
Integrated smart hub systems can also protect your home in more ways than just through burglary. Integrated smoke detectors ensure that if a fire starts you are alerted to leave the house, or if away from the property, your monitored smoke detectors will notify you of the situation. Flood sensors will notify you of water ingress at the property which can be particularly helpful for unoccupied premises.
Will these security systems reduce your insurance costs?
The answer is both yes and no, as it depends on a lot of factors. When calculating your premiums, insurance companies want to see that you have thought about security and how to protect your home. Taking additional security precautions could reduce your premiums but it’s unlikely to be a substantial difference.
Although your upfront savings won’t necessarily be more than you spend on a security system, the long term benefits may be worth it by avoiding future premium increases. By increasing security you are reducing your chances of having to make a claim, which could lead to increased premiums at renewal or hefty excess charges. You might not see a big drop in premiums, but you’re reducing the risk of seeing your premiums rise.
Whatever security measures you have in place, it’s important to be completely accurate with your insurance provider to reduce the chance of having your policy invalidated or your claim rejected.