Questions For Your Home Alarm Company
So, you’ve decided the time has finally come to upgrade the alarm and security system in your home and have a list of companies that have been recommended. But while they may come with glowing reports from your family or friends, now’s not the time to take it all on face value.
Your home’s security and your family’s safety are paramount and so choosing the right company is a serious business. After all, you wouldn’t let a babysitter look after Junior without asking a few questions and getting a reference, so why should letting someone watch over your home be any different?
From security cameras and smart doorbells to a full alarm and 24 hours call out the system, knowing exactly what you want from your home security and what you should ask a potential supplier is essential for a worry-free service. To help, we’ve looked at the nine key questions you should put to any security company you are considering using. Let the interview commence…
Know What You Want First
Before we start, you need to ask yourself a few honest questions. Firstly, decide what kind of home security equipment and set up you actually want. Are you wanting to go down the straight-up security system with equipment such as alarms, security cameras and door/window sensors of the conventional kind or do you want to go smart as part of a home automation package? You also need to know how much is in your budget and whether you are looking for a professionally monitored plan or if a DIY set up using smart technology is really the way to go. Be clear on what you want and what you can realistically afford before you start talking to the home security expert.
Now that you have your home security plan in mind, it’s time to get out that list of alarm companies and get calling. Here are the nine essential questions we think you need to ask:
1. Is The Security Company Fully Licensed And How Long Have They Been Involved In Home Security?
First up, the home security company must be fully licensed and insured for business trading and this can be easily checked independently, even if you have already asked the sales representative. You want to be sure that due to the confidential nature of the home security business, they are legitimate and have a good reputation. And when it comes to reputation, ask if they are a member of an official industry association, such as the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. If in any doubt, call the association to verify. This may all seem a bit excessive, but you need to be sure that you are putting your custom into a safe pair of home security hands.
Another way to be sure of a company’s expertise and reputation is to find out how long they have been in business for. A recently formed home security firm may not have the experience you’re looking for under their belt, particularly when it comes to complex alarm monitoring systems. A home alarm and security company that has been around for at least three years would be a good option as they will have had enough feedback and client testimonies for you to gauge just how skilled– and reliable – they are.
2. Does The Home Security Equipment Come With A Warranty?
This should be a deal breaker when it comes to buying a new home security system, and if the company shows any reluctance then walk away. It is important to have a warranty in place for any new electrical equipment, especially when it involves home security. Anything electrical has the potential to breakdown and so you need to know from the offset what is covered for replacement or repair should anything go wrong.
Any reputable company will have no problem offering warranties to their clients, not least because it shows that they are confident in the products and services they offer. Most home security companies offer warranties for two or three years, but it is important to be clear on what they cover. The warranty may not cover all of the equipment or include installation and repair cost so check the small print, so you know exactly where you stand. Also, ask the terms of their call out times and repair scheduling as you don’t want your security system down too long.
3. What Security Measures Does The Company Take To Ensure Client Safety?
When getting a new home alarm and upgraded security, you are effectively asking strangers to come in and set up a system that they can then monitor remotely. Now there’s no need to be alarmed, these companies are professional and want your business as well as keep you and your family safe. But there is no harm in being totally upfront on this question and you could also learn a lot about how the company operates. You may want to find out what background checks and security clearances they conduct on their employees and that all their electricians are certified to fit your new alarm system. You will certainly want to know that the company is fully bonded for all the work they carry out and that you as a client are protected and that there will be a written guarantee on the system that they install.
If the company is upfront and quick to answer your question and are able to easily cover all the areas you would expect, it is safe to say that when it comes to your safety as a client, they’ve got it covered.
4. How Often Does The Company Test Their Alarm Systems?
This is another straight-up question which will give you a good idea as to the ongoing and long-term customer service you will most likely get. The home security company should carry out regular testing of all their home alarm systems as a matter, of course, to make sure it is working properly. The last thing you want to do is find out the system is down as an intruder is walking up the stairs! Ideally, you should expect at least a monthly testing schedule for the system you are looking to buy. Any less than that and your own alarm bells should start ringing.
5. Does The Home Security Company Have Their Own Monitoring Center?
Home security is a 24-hour business and by going to a company to keep your home safe with a full monitoring package, you are paying for that round the clock support.
Ask straight up if their service is 24 hour and if they will be providing the monitoring service themselves as well as supplying and fitting all the security system hardware. Alarm monitoring centers can be costly to and run operate and so some home security firms subcontract the monitoring side of their business to other companies that have the monitoring center resource. When entrusting the security of your house to your chosen company, you may not be comfortable having an unknown third-party company monitoring your home. This also applies to the ongoing maintenance and servicing of the alarm system and all the additional home security hardware, so double check that this is also a service they supply or sub-contract out.
6. What Is The Company’s Average Response Time To Alarms?
A new, hi-tech home security system with the latest sensors, smart locks, and security cameras is all well and good, but what also matters is how quickly all this kit gets a response if the alarm is triggered. When the alert is on, you need to know that help will be on its way – and pronto. So, our 6th key question to ask your home security company is how quickly they will respond to the initial signal they receive when your alarm is triggered. A good alarm company will respond to all alerts within 60 seconds.
This question should then go a step further – what happens next? How will the alarm company alert you if you are away from home or help you if you are in the house at the time of the triggered alarm, whether it’s due to a fire, flood or break-in? And what is their procedure to alerting the emergency services, and how quickly do they determine that this is the right route to take? Knowing what the plan is in advance for all the situations that could arise will not only put your mind at rest but also reassure you that you are not just buying into some impressive smart security and monitoring tech but that it will do the job when it really needs to!
7. Does The Company Offer Systems With Advanced Safety Features?
Smart tech and WiFi are totally revolutionizing home security, meaning that hardwired alarms and security systems are no longer your only option when looking for ways to upgrade the security and safety of your home.
If you want more than a basic security system to protect your home, then ask whether the company offers a package with more advanced safety features that take advantage of smart technology. Wireless alarm systems are faster, easier and can be more cost-effective than installing a wired alarm system. And you can also access and monitor remotely via your smartphone or device when you are not at home. Advanced safety features include smart security cameras, smart locks and doorbells, and video services. You can also choose a wireless door, floor and window sensors that not only detect intruders but can alert to fire and flood. The key to discussing any advanced features that your chosen home security company may offer is to keep it focused and agree on the tech spec that you and your home really need.
You also need to ask questions about the company’s own smart monitoring service, their connectivity, and hacker security to ensure that they also have the 24/7 capability to consistently manage and monitor your home via an advanced wireless security system.
8. Do I Need To Sign A Contract?
This is the question where you need to keep a sensible head and be sure of what you are signing up for. Most home security companies will require you to sign a contract as standard, and they are usually for two or three years. As with any financial and contractual arrangement, take the time to read the small print and understand their terms and conditions. Questions you should ask about any contract with a home security company include whether the monthly tariff could increase during the length of the contract or whether it is set fee for the full term. Check out the cancellation policy too, particularly if you need to pay a penalty for terminating early and ask what the notice period will be.
If you really don’t want to enter a term-specific contract, there are a few home security companies such as SimpliSafe that work contract-free.
9. And Finally…What Happens If I Move Out Of My Home?
Nothing is forever, right? You never know when circumstances will change, or opportunities arise, and you find you are moving to a new home or moving away. What happens to your home security system then?
When getting into the detail of the contract with the home security service you are looking to sign up for, check it is a package that can be transferred if you move home. Wireless security systems will be easier to transfer than hardwired but it is also the monitoring and support service you need to consider. Some companies will agree that you can move with your security system and maintain the existing contract arrangement, but others may not. If you think that a house move could well be on the horizon before the end of the agreed contract period, check with the potential home security supplier that your alarm system can come with you.