Helping Home Insurance Protect Your Biggest Investment Against Burglars
While insurance provides for protection against covered losses, it does not pay for damages caused by negligence or improper maintenance on the part of the homeowner. There are several things we can do to help protect our property, keep our insurance premiums at a minimum and feel more secure that our home is adequately protected.
Help your home insurance by making your home secure inside
According to the FBI's "Crime in the U. S. 2012", over 2.1 million burglaries were reported that year or one every 15 seconds. These statistics highlight just how easy it is for burglars to gain entry into your home. The table below outlines some very simple low-cost measures that will significantly deter a thief from choosing your home as a target.
The strike plate—the stationary piece that the bolt enters—must be heavy duty, made of solid metal or brass, with six three-inch-long screws that penetrate the door jamb and the door frame. Check out the "Door lock buying guide" published by Consumer Reports.
Low or No-cost things to do to deter burglars
It is a good idea to install quality deadbolt locks on all exterior doors, including those leading from attached garages. If the door contains windows or adjacent window panels, you might consider installing a second deadbolt that requires a key to lock it from the inside.
You might recognize the voice, but installing security peepholes in all exterior doors will allow you to double check to see who is on the other side of the door.
Keep valuables out of view
Expensive equipment like computers, stereo systems and flat panel TVs that are placed in full view from windows and doors are an open invitation for criminals.
Secure sliding doors
Most sliding doors lead to a deck or patio and most have locks installed, but these locks are usually not very sturdy and can easily be opened by an experienced burglar. It is a good idea to lay a security bar made of sturdy wood or heavy metal in the track of the door.
Many home burglaries occur when thieves gain entry through an unlocked door or window. When you go to bed at night or leave your home, make sure all doors and windows are locked.
A home security alarm system does not have to be real expensive. It is a good idea to choose a service that will notify someone (police department, fire department, etc.) in the event someone breaks into your home. The sign "Home Protected by" in your front yard is also a good deterrent.
Help your home insurance by making your home more secure outside
The table below outlines some very simple things you can do to make your home look more secure from the outside.
A solid cedar fence that is six feet high will certainly make your property look good and it will provide privacy, but it could also provide excellent concealment for an intruder. If you decide to enclose your property with a fence, it is a good idea to use see-through fencing like chainlink or picket. A short see-through fence will provide an effective physical barrier without obstructing visibility.
Trees and hedges
Tall hedges or bushes should not be planted next to the house, below windows or along fence lines. Criminals love to use tall vegitation for concealment. Take a survey of your yard and think about places where burglars could hide while getting access to your home. If you are considering additional landscaping, you might want to think about rose bushes or other plants with thorns that do not provide a welcome refuge for someone trying to take cover in them.
Don't hide keys
People continue to hide additional house keys under door mats or in flower pots. A good burglar already knows where to look for these keys. Leave a duplicate key with a neighbor, a relative or at your office.
Beware of Dog
These signs are very inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware or other retail stores. Even if you don't own a dog, chances are a potential thief will not know that and the sign might serve as an effective deterrent.
Tips for outdoor lighting
An effective way to improve the security of your outdoor property is to install motion sensor security lights near each point of entry. Many hardware stores offer inexpensive do-it-yourself lighting kits. It is important to choose a lighting assembly that provides enough soft light to illuminate your backyard without being too harsh. Too much bright light can create large areas that are concealed by shadows and your neighbors just might not appreciate the blinding light coming through their bedroom window.
Check out the "Lightbulb buying guide" by Consumer Reports.
When you go on vacation, your home should not!
When you leave home for an extended period of time, make sure your house looks lived in. Installing timers on various lights around the house will give the impression that someone is home at night. Make sure that you give someone the task of sweeping your driveway or mowing your lawn while you are away. It is a good idea to have a neighbor collect your mail and newspaper each day. You could put a hold on your mail at the post office, but if someone is watching your property and sees the postal worker skip your house several days in a row, this could spell trouble.
Don't advertise in social media that your home will be vacant
A recent Facebook survey indicates that 33 percent of people post about upcoming vacation plans and 17 percent have their address available for the entire world to see. Do not post about being out of town and don't include your address in your profile. If you tell a professional burglar where you live, when and how long you will be gone, it is just an invitation. There will be plenty of time to tell your friends about your trip when you return.
Just as we expect our home insurance to provide us with the protection we need, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to help protect our homes against damage and theft.
I would like to hear your ideas:
If you have ways to make our homes more secure from burglars, please share them in the comments section below.
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