You may think of home security and insuring your valuables as a “been there, done that” concern that you took care of when you got your homeowners insurance policy, put into place when you first bought the property. Chances are, you will be incident-free and all will be fine for the years that you live there.
But a break-in or other home disaster can happen when you least expect it. To be sure that you don’t fall victim to a home invasion or burglary, let’s take a look at how you can protect your home and ensure that your insurance coverage is up to par, should a loss occur.
The harder you make it for a thief to gain access to your home and your valuables, the less likely he or she is to try. “Burglars are lazy. They won’t attempt entry into a house where the risk is heightened that they may be caught. They will simply move on to the next house that seems less protected and more burglar-friendly,” says Maribeth Anderson, assistant vice president and senior risk consultant for HUB International in the Chicago area. According to Anderson, a security protocol for your home should include the following best practices that will help to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.
Here are five things you can do to make your home more secure:
— Keep track of who has keys to your home.
— Check that all locks work.
— Add lighting outside your home.
— Get an alarm system.
— Lock away your valuables.
1. Keep Track of Who Has Keys to Your Home
Who has a key to your home? Keep a list (somewhere safe) of who has been given a key to your house. Besides immediate family members, there may service providers who come weekly that you have given a key to. On a regular basis, review this list and make sure everyone who has a key is still working for you or should have this sort of access to your home.
2. Check That All Locks Work
Check that all lock devices work correctly on windows and doors. It is easy to check and should be conducted regularly.
3. Add Lighting Outside Your Home
Thieves look for doorways and windows that are not well lit from the street. Add motion-detecting lights around the perimeter of your property. When movement is detected, the lights will automatically turn on. Motion detector lights must be high wattage to illuminate an area, especially one that has many trees or shrubs. Think obnoxious floodlights that light up the sky — and house, and lawn — making it difficult for the intruders to find a place to hide.
4. Get an Alarm System
If you are interested in a higher level of security other than locking doors and windows, you may want to install a security system. There is a reason why words like “stealth” and “stalk” come to mind when talking about a burglary. Robbers want to come in and go out of your home without anyone knowing they have ever been there. The three elements that they hate the most when making their way into a residence are sound, lights and video cameras. Having an alarm system that is loud and persistent, reaching neighbors and tied directly to the local police department shows the would-be robber that the time at your home is limited before police respond to the alarm.
Take the time to review reputable security companies to develop a security plan that’s capable of providing the right monitoring level for your needs. The installation will include monitoring for all doors and windows, or at minimum the ones that are most easily accessible. Once the homeowner turns on the alarm system, if a door or window contact is broken the alarm will sound, unless the correct code is entered on the key panel. After a brief period, the alarm company will send out the police to check the premises.
There are many options that can be implemented on your own — if you’re looking for a more economical solution, there are a number of affordable home security system options now available that include video monitoring,
If you choose the outside company route, your real estate agent is a good source for the names of security companies that have a solid reputation in your area. It’s a good idea to have the company come in periodically and check contact points if this is a part of your system.
5. Lock Away Your Valuables
The odds that your home will be the target of a burglary are low. But if it is, how easy would be it for the robbers to find your valuables? While keeping jewelry in a jewelry box or somewhere in your closet is certainly convenient, it is also convenient for the intruder. Criminals will look in the obvious places.
Put a little thought into what would make you most comfortable in protecting whatever it is that is of value to you. That can be anything from a fire and burglar-proof commercial container, home safe or a hiding place that only you know about. Banks also offer safety deposit boxes for those extra special items of value. Weigh the cost and security of the various options and determine what will give you peace of mind, and for a cost that you’re comfortable with.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when insuring your valuables:
— Do you have the proper amount of coverage? Be sure your insurance company has up-to-date appraisals for both scheduled and unscheduled (blanket) insurance. On scheduled items, you’ll want to be sure that you are fully covered and on unscheduled items, you’ll want to be sure that the blanket policy covers all of the items.
— Do you understand your policy? Most people know what their deductible is, but have you walked through the basics of your policy with your insurance agent? You may be surprised at some of the nuances of your policy, such as: Am I paid for the tax on items that are damaged, lost or stolen and replaced? What happens if I don’t replace an insured item with the exact same item? Understanding the ins and outs of your policy will give you peace of mind that you have the right coverage and protection.
— Storage of Valuables. Don’t make it easy for theft to occur. Leaving jewelry in unlocked or easy-to-break locked drawers or cabinets isn’t going to keep them safe. There are many options, find the right one for you.
Make it a priority to review your homeowners insurance coverage (or any insurance, for that matter) on an annual basis to ensure that it reflects any important changes.
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5 Home Security Tips for Protecting Your Family and Valuables originally appeared on usnews.com