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Property Security Guide

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Guide to your property security

Introduction

Most of us won’t need to be convinced about the need to maintain a sensible degree of property security. That’s because if it’s our place of residence, it’s “home” and we will have a natural instinct to protect it. 

Yet there are some other reasons for taking security seriously.  For example:

  • our home insurance might specify certain minimum levels of protection required if cover is to be maintained;

  • in some circumstances, a mortgage provider might make similar stipulations;

  • even some leasing or rental agreements may make certain demands of us in terms of using property security.

There is some good news though. 

Most burglars are opportunists.  They look for easy domestic targets that they can enter and leave as quickly as possible and with preferably virtually zero chance of discovery. 

In spite of what might sometimes be seen in TV dramas, the typical burglar or thief is unlikely to go to a lot of trouble or use very specialist techniques and tools to enter the average home.  They are usually looking for open doors and windows or indications that the property is unoccupied. 

That means that with the use of some relatively modest home security systems, the vast majority of burglars are likely to be quickly deterred and may make little significant effort to enter your property.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at some of the issues and some of the options available to the typical homeowner in terms of keeping burglars out!

Home Security Systems

Your first line of defence against burglars is your own common sense.  Applying that in a number of “best practice” ways will significantly reduce the chances of burglary arising from opportunist activities.

This includes all of the old good advice that has been passed down through the generations:

  • don’t leave doors open/unlocked unless you are in the vicinity;

  • do the same with windows. You might be amazed at how small a gap some burglars can squeeze through in order to enter your property;

  • make sure that all your doors and windows have good-quality locks fitted to them. Avoid making economies here;

  • if you are away from home for a period of time, don’t advertise the fact by things such as notes pinned to your front door. Over longer periods of absence, don’t allow the post to build up in your letterbox and leave a light or two on a timer switch;

  • avoid thinking that you can leave keys to your property in and around your front door and a burglar will never find them. In many cases, they will!

Essential as the above practices are, in themselves they may not be enough.  Some burglars are determined and if they think the target justifies it, they will make a more concerted effort to enter your property.  This type of criminal may require a professional deterrent in the form of one of the various home security systems.

Broadly speaking, such systems can be divided into two categories:

  • DIY-type installations;

  • professionally-sourced.

DIY installations

There are now some impressive off-the-shelf solutions for home security systems. 

For example, “Blink” provides unobtrusive small cameras that monitor rooms around your home or immediate external areas.  They can relay real-time images of what is happening in your house to your laptop or smartphone. 

Even more impressive, they contain motion sensors so that they only switch on and notify you remotely in situations where they have detected something unusual happening in the room that they are monitoring.  They are even capable of using infra-red technology to enable them to see in an otherwise pitch black area.

There are other variations on these approaches that can trigger burglar alarms. Some are capable of being fitted easily to doors and windows too.

The big advantage of this type of system is that it delivers good, advanced functionality at a typically modest price.  There are no monthly fees to pay, either.

The downside is that this only offers limited protection. You can see (and have recorded) that someone is in your home, but there are no alarms going off.

Professionally outsourced solutions

Another option is to simply contact a specialist security systems provider and ask them to make your house as secure as possible. Companies such as ADT are well known providers of such solutions

The nature of the solutions can vary hugely.  They can include professional-quality burglar alarms based on motion, vibration and heat signature detection.  They can also include cameras and automatic notifications to remote devices.  Some solutions of this type might include offering specialist security for doors and windows.

Certain service providers may also offer a fast response system, whereby they will get security personnel to your property within a stated time in the event an alarm is triggered.

The advantages of these solutions are typically those of quality, professional installation, fitness for purpose design and added-value services such as on-site attendance.

The disadvantage is that, depending upon the sophistication of the solution and services you select, you may find that the cost is typically higher than with DIY solutions. You’ll also need to pay monthly fees as well as the cost of an annual service.

It’s worth remembering though that some household insurance policies may offer interesting incentives, in the form of discounts, for policyholders who have installed a recognised security system solution that is annually serviced.

Protecting your valuables

Whatever security precautions you take, it would be prudent to plan for the possibility that someone might still enter your property to try to steal your most valuable possessions.

There are certain steps you can take to try to reduce the risks of that happening and should the worst come to pass, improving your chances of recovering the Items afterwards.

It may be worth considering:

  • for particularly high-value items such as jewellery, collections, cash and financial instruments, it might be sensible to install a professional-quality safe;

  • make sure all of your less easily secured valuables, perhaps including things such as designer clothes, valuable electronics, antiques and even furniture, are marked with an invisible identification tag. There are many such systems available. They would only show up if specialist equipment was subsequently used to identify them following their recovery. In some cases, even micro-trackers might be an option.

Remember also that it is imperative you declare any particularly valuable individual items separately to your insurer.  Their individual item financial cover limits and specification levels will typically be highlighted clearly in their policy.

Finally, if some of your items are of particularly high value or great sentimental importance to you, in some instances it may be preferable to store them off-site in some form of bank security box.

High net worth home protection

Perhaps your property and its contents are of exceptionally high value in the sense that they exceed standard home insurance maximum cover levels. 

The figures may vary from one insurance provider to another but they may be in the region of properties valued in excess of £1million or contents where the total value exceeds £50,000.

In these situations, you might need what’s called “high net worth home insurance” and such policies may bring with them specific requirements relating to additional security.

It is difficult to generalise, as the specifics of policies may vary so widely.  Even so, you may find with high net worth home protection, the insurer requires additional security such as reinforced steel doors, security grills, safes and specialist locks. They may also only accept externally-sourced professional security systems as opposed to DIY solutions.

You should contact a specialist provider of high net worth home protection insurance, such as ourselves here at UKinsuranceNET, for further advice and guidance.

Extra protection during renovation or extension building

As was mentioned earlier in this guide, many burglars are only looking for easy entry opportunities.  Unfortunately, renovation or other such significant building work around a house can indicate to burglars not only that there may be easier possibilities for entry to the property but also potentially higher probabilities that the owners are not in residence.

The exact circumstances here may vary hugely depending upon the work being undertaken.  However, in some cases, large-scale building work may make it virtually impossible for you or your builders to fully secure your property at the end of the working day.

In such situations, it may be possible to install short-term security measures such as steel fencing that can be fitted in the evenings to secure openings etc.  A qualified builder should be able to offer you further advice on the steps you can take in this respect.

Remember though that if your property is unoccupied for whatever reason, you must discuss the exact circumstances with your insurance provider.  You must do likewise in any situation where you remain in residence but where the work you are having carried out has meant that you can no longer be sure of maintaining adequate security on the property.

There are policies to cover unoccupied property and building renovation circumstances. Some combination or variations of these should be able to ensure your continuity of protection.

Remember, if your property cannot be secured in line with normal conditions, it might not only be prudent to put your contents into storage for the duration but also potentially obligatory as required by your home contents insurance cover.

Summary

None of us wishes to consider trying to turn our homes into fortresses.  A sensible lifestyle balance has to be struck and it’s necessary to guard against paranoia.

However, there are very real criminals out there who will do everything they can to enter your property illegally and steal your contents, if they are given even half the chance to do so.

It only makes sense to try and thwart them in their objective. 

Of course, as home cover policyholders, we are all obliged to take certain steps to protect not only our own interests but those of the insurance provider.  So, you should be very clear what your individual buildings and contents insurance requires of you in terms of compliance with anti-burglary measures. 

Please note that any reference to third party providers is for information purposes only. We do not endorse any of the security products mentioned within this guide.