A barking dog may deter a thief, but it won’t get you any homeowners insurance quote discounts (and a biting dog could get your policy canceled). A much better bet is to do everything possible to secure your home from break-ins. Even something as small as installing deadbolt locks may net a five percent discount, while a sophisticated burglar alarm could result in up to 20% homeowners insurance discounts.
Do have deadbolts on all your exterior doors? Be sure to mention it when getting homeowners insurance quotes. If you don’t have them, install them and let your policy provider know.
Secure exterior windows and sliding doors. This is another easy fix. While it may not get you any homeowners insurance discounts, it can prevent break-ins and subsequent claims on your policy that can drive up your premiums. Something as simple as a solid pole laid in the sliding door track can keep burglars from lifting the door out of its frame. You can also install removable pins or hammer nails into window frames so they can’t be opened if the locks are compromised.
Other cheap solutions include motion-detecting outdoor lighting, automatic timers for interior lights that turn on and off randomly, leaving a radio on, and cutting back shrubbery that obscure doors and windows. A bit more costly, but effective, is replacing glass and hollow core exterior doors with solid wood or steel.
If you have a lot to lose or live in a high-risk neighborhood and can afford it, consider a security alarm system. Prices and effectiveness vary widely, so check with your insurer to see which systems qualify for homeowners insurance discounts before you buy.
You have two basic types of security systems to choose from: monitored and unmonitored. The first typically qualifies for higher homeowners insurance discounts because it alerts the police or monitoring company directly, while unmonitored systems depend on neighbors to call the cops when the alarm goes off. After a couple of false alarms, your neighbors may just consider it an annoyance and ignore it.
Any good quality system should include a combination of contacts on entry points and motion sensors. Best-quality systems also include glass-break sensors. Almost all systems rely on phone lines to alert police of a break-in. The bad guys know that. If you’re going to the expense of installing a security system, think about having your phone line run underground until it is inside and place the main phone junction line inside, too.