The one thing most likely to impress your insurance company is that you have taken a number of simple steps to reduce the risk of a burglar entering your home. The result? A reduction in the premium is guaranteed. This can be relatively minor things like deadlocks on the doors or, if there are real risks of robbery or kidnapping, the more expensive installation of a panic room. As with all decisions, it’s a balance between the costs of the work and the benefits in the reduction of premiums. Finally, even if you cannot afford a full alarm system, there are cheap ways of protecting your property.
Protection outside your home
Burglars always assess a target before attempting entry. They prefer properties where the trees and bushes offer somewhere to hide. So, cut back the lower branches of any trees and prune all bushes. Keep good sight lines to the windows and doors from the road. Depending on the size of your yard and the amount of street lighting, consider the cost of installing external lights and leave them on at night. You should also remove anything like a tree or trellis that could be used to climb up to the second storey. Similarly, secure any ladders in a locked shed or garage. As a deterrent, plant bushes with thorns close to the house and in front of the windows. The next step up in cost are motion sensors to sweep the yard and the areas in front of the windows and doors.
Protection inside your home
Burglars usually find it easier to enter your home through a window rather than a door. Go to your local hardware store, buy a set of standard locks and fit them to all the ground-floor windows, and any windows on the second floor that can be accessed from a porch or garage roof. There are separate types of lock for sliding windows. Never hang the keys on a nail next to the windows. There are two dangers. The burglar can simply break one pane, reach for the key and open the window. But you and your family need to be able to open the windows quickly if there’s a fire. If you forget your door keys, never show a burglar how easy it is to get in through a window. Leave a spare door key with a neighbor you trust.
Some burglars try to look like a guest by entering through the front door. Always fit solid wood doors into a strong frame. Anything less can easily be kicked in. Similarly, doors with decorative glass panels are vulnerable. Either fit plastic panels or a grill. Ensure there is no significant gap between the door and the frame to reduce the risk of a pry bar forcing it open. Similarly, never fit the door with the hinges showing. It’s too easy to slip out the pins. As with sliding windows, take effective measures to prevent a burglar from lifting doors off their tracks.
Protective measures to reduce home insurance premiums are common sense. Avoid signalling the house is empty. Close the garage doors if you are out. Leave lights on at night. Never leave notes up on the door and never leave house keys under a rock in the yard. Burglars have seen all the tricks. Then all you need to do is invite your home insurance agent to view all the protective measures and negotiate a discount.