Saving with Security

Why home security systems are about more than just peace of mind.

Statistically speaking, home security systems make sense; according to the FBI, a burglary occurs roughly every 15 seconds in the U.S., and those without security systems are three times more likely to be burglarized than those that do. Security systems ward off potential burglars with loud alarms that alert the homeowner to an intrusion and notify authorities automatically, and if there are cameras connected they can offer useful evidence in catching the guilty party. Not to mention the fact that there are security systems available that are designed to warn a homeowner of fire and harmful gasses, as well as if there is a leak so that they can be aware of water damage before it happens.

security-measures                         Keep doors lock even when you’re home for ample protection. Image from In The Nation

Safety is one of the first things a homeowner considers when setting up a security system, but an added bonus they might not have considered is the potential to save money by increasing security. Depending on which home insurance company a homeowner has and the level of security they employ, a savings of 15-20 percent off of a premium could be achieved by making a few additions.

Any kind of security system is likely to benefit a homeowner, but monitored alarm systems gain the most savings on insurance rate value. Agent Insure cites a study that reveals how the increased “availability of monitored burglar alarms to middle class homeowners has helped reduce crime significantly” overall. A monitored system is one that has a professional monitoring company monitoring the alarm around the clock, receiving notifications if a sensor is triggered and then alerting authorities as needed.

With a third-party essentially keeping an eye on the house at all times, it’s not much of a surprise that insurance companies would appreciate it, as it cuts down on the liability they have to cover. A burglary might result in a large claim for the insurance company depending on damages done to the property as well as those needing to be replaced, and fire claims on average amount to ten times that of burglary; so it’s actually good business on their end to offer incentive for home security systems. Any opportunity to save money for them is a potential opportunity to save for you as well.

When it comes to choosing a system, the main differences are in types of equipment, and whether or not the system is monitored. Monitored systems are ones in which a third party company sets up special equipment in your home, and then monitors the system 24/7 so that you don’t have to. What’s particularly important about this is that if someone tries to break in, your alarm notifies the third party and they immediately alert the authorities.

Make sure to specify whether or not you want a system with a loud alarm and flashing lights since they don’t come standard; some people feel that they help to ward off burglars.

An added benefit to monitored systems is that they are often integrated with your smoke and fire alarms. If a fire happens while you’re sleeping or away, the third party monitors will alert the fire department as soon as something shows up as a danger. Unmonitored systems don’t have this option, so it’s an important thing to consider when deciding between the two. The extra services and constant monitoring come at a monthly cost that starts at about $30, so keep that in mind when figuring your budget.

Unmonitored alarms are generally some kind of set up of loud alarms and flashing lights that trip when someone is trying to break in. As stated above, this can be a benefit to the silent alarms of some monitored systems since it generally deters a burglar and often scares them away. If you aren’t home and something happens, there isn’t the benefit of a third part alerting authorities, but there’s a good chance the wailing noise will be enough. Unmonitored systems are virtually free after initial install since no one is keeping track of it other than you, so they fit well into budgeters still wanting protection.

Keep in mind that a false alarm on an unmonitored system can be annoying to the neighbors, but too many on a monitored system can mean costly fines from the police department and an annoyed third party.

A third option – largely more expensive and generally done to homes during the actual building process – would be to utilize the security system built into Smart Homes. Designed to have total home automation, energy management, and home security systems, Smart Homes have the latest security systems built directly into the house structure rather than being added later, so they’re comprehensive and cover all areas of the home automatically. Homeowners then monitor the systems on their smart devices or laptops, ensuring that they can keep an eye on things even when they’re away.

Any type system will save you money on your insurance premium, so the right alarm to choose really only depends on your concerns and personal needs. Recognized companies like ADT and Live Watch have popularized security systems to the point of seeming like a standard home item; SecurityCamExpert reports that there were 245 million professionally installed surveillance systems active and operating globally in 2014 – which doesn’t even include the number for the systems that people install themselves in a DIY format. And with features like those in Smart Homes being expected of buyers, security systems are likely to become a common part of the home; like a thermostat or air conditioning unit.

Regardless of the type of system employed, the benefits of home security systems are great. They offer constant protection and peace of mind for homeowners and families, and can stand to save quite a bit of money on insurance premiums when set up properly. Putting a price on the preservation of valuable and cherished items can be hard, but 15 percent annually is an amount worth considering.

Erin Emanuel