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The following information is repeated in Windows of enhanced security
The following security requirements have been copied from two 2010 popular home insurance company’s schedules, not their policy documents or booklets, but the schedule that is sent to you as part of the confirmation letter when you have renewed or taken out cover with a new insurer. The bit that details security requirements will be found at the back of the letter and is shown under ‘endorsements’. It is likely that they will all be very similar to the one I have shown below. You may not know it, but you could be receiving a premium discount for confirming that you have the minimum security requirements. If the security is not being used at the time of the incident you may not have your claim settled in whole, so do make sure you are conforming.
There are some anomalies that you may need to sort out with your insurer, which are listed at the end of this sub-section.
WARNING: The following example of Insurance Security Requirements is just that; it's just an example. Yours may be different in the detail or may have additional requirements to cover higher risks. CHECK YOUR OWN DOCUMENT BEFORE DECIDING ON YOUR SECURITY NEEDS!
Example of Insurance Requirements
The following endorsements apply to this policy
Locks Premium Discount
A discount is allowed off the contents premium on the understanding that your home is protected by locks to our required standard.
Loss by theft or attempted theft from the home is not covered unless the following security measures are in operation when the property is left unattended. All external doors and windows must be closed and locked and keys must not be visible from outside. [ I’ve added the underlining ]
The final exit door....
i is fitted with a mortice deadlock with at least 5 levers; or
ii is fitted with a lock conforming to BS3621: 1998 or to a higher specification
In addition, where the final exit door is double-leaf, the first closing leaf must be fitted with top and bottom key-operated security bolts. Bolts must be positioned vertically so as to enter the framework of the door, not the opposing leaf.
All other single external doors....
i are fitted with key-operated security bolts at the top and bottom; or
ii are fitted with a mortice deadlock with at least 5 levers; or
iii are fitted with a lock conforming to BS3621: 1998 or to a higher specification
All French or double doors (other than final exit doors)....
Are fitted with two key operated security bolts at the top and bottom of the final closing door or, if not rebated, to both doors. The bolts must be positioned vertically, so as to enter the top and bottom of the door frame, not the opposing leaf
Sliding patio doors....
Are fitted with an anti-lift device to prevent the doors from being lifted off their running tracks when closed and are either:
i fitted with two key-operated patio door locks on the inside of the doors at the top and bottom of the frame; or
ii are fitted with a key-operated multiple locking system having at least two locking points
All opening ground floor and basement windows, and all windows which are accessible from roofs, walls, fences, balconies, landings, porches, soil pipes, drainpipes, trees or shrubs must be fitted with at least one key-operated metal lock
Alternatively, these windows are permanently fixed shut by means of non-return or defaced head screws angled through the window frame into the timber or metal surround.
All ground floor, basement and other louvre windows accessible by the means described in [Windows] have their panes secured to the frames by epoxy or glass bonding adhesive to prevent their easy removal.
Double-glazed PVC-U, Metal or timber doors
Key-operated multiple-point locking devices on double glazed PVC-U, metal or timber doors are an acceptable alternative for the security measures detailed for doors above.
What you need to check with your insurer
It is fair to say that the insurance companies are very generous when it comes to their security requirements, the lowest of which, in my view, would barely protect you from a minimum security threat. That being said, these are requirements to acquire insurance cover, NOT to prevent you from having a burglary; two completely different matters.
There are nevertheless one or two things you’ll need to clarify with your insurer:
How do they define ‘the final exit door’?
If you live in a flat do they mean the final exit door from the main building onto the street or the private flat entrance door? I suspect the latter, but it is not clear.
Non British Standard door locks
The use of non British Standard 5 lever mortice deadlocks, whilst not the best choice to prevent burglary, is the minimum required by some insurers on the final exit door and other single leaf external doors. You can check if yours conforms by looking at the lock’s face plate. You should see the words ‘5 Lever’ and sometimes these additional words ‘insurance’ or ‘insurance approved’. I still recommend that you replace them for the BS 3621 version.
Cylinder operated mortice deadlocks
Your single mortice lock might incorporate a cylinder to operate the lock instead of levers, but how will you know if this lock will be approved by your insurer? I suggest you contact your insurer by phone and in writing and give them a description of the lock to see if it acceptable. Make sure their response is in writing. Also see next paragraphs.
Non visible forced entry by lock manipulation
If you have a cylinder operated lock on your final exit door or other external doors, which is either a single lock or a multi-point locking device it may be susceptible to ‘bumping’. This is where a special cut-down key is used by a skilled person to unlock your door. If a thief enters your property in this way you may not be covered for your entire losses, since there is no evidence of a forced entry and it will be difficult to argue that your door was locked at the time of the incident.
Before you speak to your insurer about this potential problem I strongly recommend that you upgrade the cylinders to ‘anti-bump’ ones straightaway. (See More things to improve door security , Replacing lock cylinders) There are two other common ways of overcoming cylinders, but these leave visible damage and so will not affect your insurance cover.
Thumb turns on the inside of door locks
Your final exit door lock may a have a thumb turn on the inside, instead of a keyway, to assist your means of escape in an emergency. Following the guidance in Private flat entrance door – timber will help you understand this dilemma.
I suggest you discuss this matter with your insurers to ensure they are satisfied with your additional security measures, because insurers usually specify a 5-lever key operated lock or a BS 3621 lock, which, by definition, has key operation on both sides.
Unlocked emergency exit window
Building regulations may have required an emergency exit window from your dwelling onto flat roof/fire escape route. Such windows should not be fitted with key operated locks for obvious reasons. You must speak with your insurer about this matter. You can greatly improve the security of this type of window without resorting to locks. (See Window security , Fire safety and Insurance requirements)
Discounts for alarm systems
Some insurers will offer discounts if your home is fitted with an alarm system. HOWEVER, make sure yours complies with their requirements. If you say you have an alarm they will insist that it is always set when the home is unoccupied. If it wasn't set when you were burgled they may refuse to pay your claim! They may also require the following:
- The Alarm must be set at night even when the home is occupied. Alarms can be installed in such a way that you can walk around various parts of the home at night (to visit the bathroom for example) without setting it off.
- It must be installed by an alarm company that is a member of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB)
- It must be a 'Type A' alarm system, i.e. one that will send a signal to an alarm recieving centre (ARC) who can then call the police (See Burglar Alarm Advice)
I have no doubt that insurers come up against these security and fire issues all the time and will make allowances. But if you have a story to tell please let me know about it by clicking Feedback on this page (top left).
One last thing
If you haven’t got a 5-lever or BS 3621 lock on your front door, don’t say that you do, unless you are absolutely certain that you have! By making a false statement to your insurers about your security, however honest you thought you were being at the time, could affect your claim should the worse happen.
See also The Strange World of Insurance Security Requirements for some additional discussion about this issue.
Updated June 2015