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Question DetailsAsked on 7/31/2014

are security systems worthwhile?

I have heard some claims that the homeowners insurance discount that comes with having a security system offsets the cost of the system. Is this true? And is the system more of a headache with arming, disarming, false alarms, accidental tripping, etc. than it is worth?

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I have never heard of a discount that would pay for a true security system - commonly about 10-15% discount on your homeowners insurance but can be as low as 0.1%, which might be $50-300 per year (though normally less than $100), versus $500-1500 system installation range for a meaningful system. And, most of the meaningful discounts I have seen now require alarm to a monitoring center which then calls the police AFTER calling you to confirm it is not a false alarm, because so many house alarms go off that police and neighbors tend to ignore outside alarms sounding. Plus it is so easy to disable the normal outside horn or siren in advance that they are fairly useless unless concealed and protected in a very sophisticated way. My insurance carrier gives 2% discount for self-installed or a system that is only local siren/horn, and 10% for homeowners (15% for renters) for full 24/7 alarm center alarm system. And 20% if includes full interior fire and basement/utility room water alarm as well, whcih would get it up to the point where after 10-20 years it could pay for itself just in insurance savings - but generally much less than that.

The "worth" is measured by the difference to you between the minor hassles (or potentially significant if you have an absentminded or dxylexic person in the house so get a lot of false alarms, especially if unable to remember security code so a police visit occurs) versus the value of what you are protecting - which might include fire safety for an invalided or low mobility family member or children at home with a babysitteror nanny, valuables or collections or antiques or heirlooms in the house, how much time you spend away from the house (especially if long vacations or part-year use, late at night, or business trips with no one in the house), neighborhood crime rate, visual attractiveness of your house as a burglary location (appearance, fanciness, if set back from road or in trees or behind high fence so safer to hit without being seen), etc.

One other thing alarm sysstems can help a lot with is vacation or second homes - with full fire, water, burglary, temperature, humidity alarming including remote access to check status, some insurance companies will insure the home as if it were occcupied all the time rather than doubling or tripling your rates or limiting vacancies to only 30 days per year.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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