Keeping Your Home Secure
In 2018, insurers paid out £450 million in home insurance claims resulting from theft. That’s why home insurers require you to properly secure your home with industry-approved locks as a condition of their coverage. Installing security systems like burglar alarms, security cameras, and motion-activated lights can reduce your insurance premiums. They’re sensible precautions anyway, protecting your family and valuables, and helping you feel more secure in your home.
Here are some other tips for keeping your home safe.
In this guide:
- Lock up
- Which locks are industry approved?
- Other measures you can take with your doors and windows
- Install a home security system
While we may hold idyllic memories of neighbourhoods where no one bothered to lock their doors, those days have long passed. And trying to recapture them can invalidate your home insurance policy.
More than a third of burglars simply stroll through unlocked doors. Not only does this mean they can walk away with your possessions with minimal hassle, you typically won’t be able to claim on your home insurance for their replacement. Most home insurance policies only cover theft if there are signs of forcible entry.
To keep your home insurance policy valid, you’ll need to secure the doors and windows - and keep them locked, even when you’re asleep or just leaving the house briefly.
When you compare home insurance, you’ll be asked to supply details about the locks fitted on your building’s doors and windows. If you’re using industry-approved locks, you can generally find cheaper premiums. It may be worth installing them to find discounts.
The following locks are approved by the insurance industry and regarded as the most secure:
- Five Lever Mortice Deadlock: it may sound exotic, but you’ve certainly seen this lock. You can recognise it from the mortice, or the hole cut into the door or wall for the lock to be fitted. The more levers a mortice deadlock has, the more secure it is. Insurers prefer those with five. For a bonus, get the five lever mortice deadlock conforming to BS3621—a fancy way of saying it conforms to current British standards. Some insurers will only give you discounts if you have the BS3621conforming locks fitted on all doors and ground floor windows.
- Key Operated Multi Point Locking System: these locks offer an even higher degree of security, with three locking points that simultaneously lock when you turn the key, effectively bolting the door into the door frame.
- Rim Automatic Deadlatch or Night Latch: these locks are mounted onto the front door rather than morticed in so are less secure. Insurers prefer them to be used in conjunction with another lock. But you can get a double latching night lock, one that allows you to lock yourself into the property overnight and insurers generally approve these.
- Key Operated Window Locks: ground floor windows should be fitted with these locks, either on the handle that opens or closes them or on the top or bottom of the window frame. But you have to remember to key lock them when they’re not in regular use or you’re away from the home.
Sometimes locks aren’t enough. Here’s how to boost security at doors and windows—the most common entry points for burglars.
- check or add strike plates: a strike plate is a metal plate affixed to the door frame, which provide extra reinforcement, particularly on wooden door jambs, so the door can’t be kicked in or forced open. You should also regularly check doors in well-trafficked areas, to see if the strike plate is still securely screwed into the jamb.
- reinforce sliding glass doors: sliding doors are a weak point in many homes and favoured by thieves. You can use a window bar or dowel to keep them from being forced open. For additional security, use a door and/or glass break sensor on them.
- upgrade to a smart lock: some locks can give you entry to your home if you type in a code, or even scan your fingerprints. You can even lock and unlock them remotely, so you’ll never have to worry if you’ve left the door unlocked.
- reinforce glass with window security film, to make them more resistant to breakage
- add bars: this could be an option on ground floor windows in heavy trafficked or high-crime areas
- install window and glass break sensors, these can alert you if a window is forced open or smashed
- plant prickly plants below ground floor windows: London’s Metropolitan Police has published a list of 30 plants that can be planted to deter thieves, from giant rhubarb, with “abrasive foliage” to common holly with “spiked leaves.”
A burglar alarm can be one of the best ways to scare off and deter criminals. According to police statistics, homes without security systems are five times more likely to be burgled than homes with them.
You have several options for home security systems, varying in level of security, surveillance and in price point:
- Bells Only Alarm: With these systems, an alarm sounds in the property for 20 minutes if an intrusion is detected. The noise may scare off intruders, but the police won’t be automatically summoned. If you’re out of the house, you’ll need to rely on neighbours hearing the siren and phoning. These are the cheapest home security systems on the market.
- Monitored Alarm System: These systems are monitored by a private security company 24 hours a day. If the alarm goes off, the company will ring you to see if everything is all right. If you don’t answer, they can contact the police. These systems are more expensive - you’ll typically need to pay a monthly subscription but they offer a greater level of security.
- Smart Home Security Systems: These systems work over Wi-Fi and can contact you via your phone if they sense an intruder.
You may even be able to get a discount on your premiums if you have one of these systems in place or install one. But the discount is unlikely to offset the cost of installing a state-of-the-art security system, particularly if it has a monthly fee. However, insurers vary in which systems they approve and the level of discount they offer, so it’s worth it to compare home insurance and shop around for quotes if you’re considering upgrading your home with a burglar alarm.