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Security Options for High Value Home Contents: Part 2 – Alarms and Monitoring

[intro]If you own a high value home that is not already fitted with a comprehensive alarm system, it is recommendable to have one installed as soon as possible. There are a wide variety of options available, designed to protect your home and safeguard high value home contents.[/intro]

What you need to know about alarms and home monitoring

Not all alarm systems are made equal. There are three main types of alarm you can choose from depending on your requirement. For obvious reasons monitored alarms are widely considered by installers and insurers alike, to be the best and most suitable systems for high value homes.

  • Bells Only
  • Speech Dialers
  • Monitored

Bells Only

As the name suggests, these just make a lot of noise in the hope of alerting someone in earshot and scaring away the potential thief. Although they can have their place in a well populated area with an active Neighbourhood Watch, for homes which sit in their own grounds and enjoy a certain degree of privacy, they are sadly inadequate. Plus, they can also prove highly annoying to the very neighbours being relied upon to save the day.

Speech Dialers

Also known as Text Alert Alarms, these systems can be pre-programmed to contact yourself and other designated numbers in the event of an intrusion. Benefits include not having to set off loud external alarms and the peace of mind in knowing that you will be instantly alerted to any problem on your premises. Speech Dialers put you in control which can be appealing to homeowners, however they are not as well regarded by insurers and are not annually maintained as standard.

Monitored Alarms

Monitored alarms are recognised and recommended by most insurers; they deliver the best response in the event of an intrusion or emergency and are the greatest deterrent to burglars. Maintained by your installer on either a monthly or annual contract, they provide the greatest peace of mind and protection for high value homes and contents.

Depending on the type of monitored alarm you have installed, there are various options available in terms of response. Once triggered your provider’s ARC (Alarm Recovery Centre) is immediately alerted. They can then verify an intrusion and contact you and your nominated keyholders. They will then contact the relevant emergency services. Some monitored alarms can be configured to respond with the appropriate action, for example synchronising with smoke alarms or medical alert devices and calling the fire service or ambulance service accordingly.

A note on police

A big selling point with a monitored alarm is the alerting of the police in event of an intrusion. Most providers will give you the choice between being on a police contract or not. There is an additional cost this which should be discussed with your provider as there are some caveats.

Just because the police are alerted by your provider, does not guarantee they will attend; this is largely dependent on how busy they are at the time and whether or not there is any indication that the thief is still at the premises. The police also operate a 3 strikes and you’re out rule – if they are called to a false alarm at your property 3 times, they will no longer respond to alerts at that address.

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Additional tips to consider when choosing a home alarm system

Wires or Wireless?
This is something to discuss with your provider. Although more expensive, benefits of a wireless device include quicker and easier installation as no wires need to be run under floorboards etc. and generally they look prettier.

Phone lines

Many installers of monitored alarms prefer to use a BT landline as there have been mixed reports of difficulties with secondary telephone providers. It is important to note that it is the homeowner’s responsibility to provide the landline. If they alarm system fails as a result of a problem with the line, your provider will not be held accountable. The UK’s largest supplier of monitored alarms, Redcare only use BT landlines.

Secondary signals

It is important to discuss the options for secondary signals with your provider. For example, with a Redcare alarm, should your phone line be cut, the ARC is alerted immediately as this is often a sign of a preempted burglary in progress.

NSI Registered

Check that your alarm and installer are NSI Registered. This is the National Security Inspectorate, previously known as NACOSS.

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What to do once your alarm is installed

Once you have chosen your alarm and had it professionally installed be sure to:

  • Get it regularly tested and maintained.
  • Make sure your nominated key holders know what to do if contacted, (most alarm companies insist that key holders be no more than 20 minutes from the premises).
  • Inform your insurer and confirm that your home and contents policy adequately reflects your security precautions. Be sure to mention that your alarm is NSI Approved.

[intro]Highworth Insurance are specialist insurers of high value homes and contents. Our knowledgeable advisors will take the time to discuss your security arrangements and details of specific high value contents and can tailor a policy unique to your requirements.[/intro]