Top 14 home security tips

Taking a bit of effort to burglar-proof your home not only helps keep it safe and secure, it could also lower the cost of your home insurance. Get some ideas with our guide.

Taking a bit of effort to burglar-proof your home not only helps keep it safe and secure, it could also lower the cost of your home insurance. Get some ideas with our guide.

Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
8
minute read
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Last Updated 9 DECEMBER 2022

Does home security lower insurance?

Yes. Most home insurance providers will charge you less for your home insurance if you have a working burglar alarm installed.

Some may also give additional discounts for homeowners that use the latest home security technology.

When deciding how much to charge you for your policy, home insurance providers will take into account where you live and the type of building you live in. This will help them work out the risk of burglary.

Unfortunately if you live in a postcode with a higher crime rate, some insurance providers will not agree to cover you unless you have an alarm system fitted.

Your insurance provider will also want to be sure your home security is up to the job if you’re requesting a high level of cover – for example if you’ve got expensive jewellery, art or a state of the art home entertainment system.

How to secure your home while you’re out

Here are our top tips for keeping your home secure while you’re out.

1. Invest in a safe

Don’t worry too much about your expensive TV. The items most likely to be stolen in a burglary are wallets, purses, cash and cards – all objects that can fit into a safe. Other commonly stolen items, such as jewellery and watches, can also be stored securely in a safe.

But don’t just assume that having a safe is enough. To
make a difference to your insurance costs, your insurance provider may stipulate that your safe is securely fixed to the wall or floor. This means it’s always a good idea to check your provider’s requirement first.

And whatever you do, don’t hide your valuables in your bedroom drawers – that’s the first place burglars will look.

2. Keep your valuables hidden 

If you don’t have a safe, make sure your valuables are well hidden. The more creative you can be here the better as thieves will be all too familiar with the most common hiding places.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you haven’t left any valuable items on display when you go out. Think what thieves would see if they looked through your window – a laptop or tablet on the coffee table or jewellery by your bedside?

You can protect any valuables you take out and about with you from theft by adding personal possessions cover to your home insurance.

3. Keep your keys safe 

Don’t forget to keep your house keys safe too. You don’t want to tempt potential burglars, so keep your keys out of sight – even when you’re at home.

If you need to leave a spare set of keys outside, don’t hide them under a rock or plant pot by the front door or in the garden. If a burglar finds your keys and uses them to break in, there won’t be any sign of forced entry and you may not be able to claim on your home insurance.

It's much safer to invest in a key safe – but make sure it’s one approved by your insurance provider. Alternatively you can always leave a spare set of keys with a neighbour.

4. Improve your door and window locks

Make sure you have secure locks on all your windows and doors, especially those on the ground floor.

Talk to a locksmith to find out which type of door locks would be the best for your home, or consider asking your home insurance provider.

Don’t forget about any patio doors or garage doors. Upgrade those locks if you need to and make sure they’re locked at all times.

Consider adding hinge bolts to protect the outside of your doors from force too. Contact the Master Locksmiths Association for advice, and be sure to let your insurance provider know if you change your locks.

5. Invest in outbuilding and shed security

Many of things we like to store in the shed or garage – think tools, bikes and sports gear – can be highly prized by thieves.

In some cases thieves may even raid your shed to find tools that they will then use to break into your home.

This means it’s absolutely vital that you keep all your outbuildings properly secured:

  • Get a decent padlock to secure your outbuildings and keep them locked when not in use.
  • Look for any weak spots that a thief might use to break in, such as windows and hinges. You could cover windows with wire mesh or grills to make them more secure.
  • Consider installing a battery-powered alarm that will sound a loud siren if the door is tampered with.
  • Store your tools inside a secured locker or box to further deter any thieves that do manage to break in.
  • Chain up your bike so it can’t be easily stolen by any thieves that make it inside.

The level of cover offered by home insurance policies for your shed and other outbuildings varies considerably between providers. If yours isn’t up to the job, consider buying additional cover or switching to a policy that offers more protection.

6. Try security cameras

Security cameras are a great way of monitoring activity, alerting you to any suspicious goings-on and even pre-empting break-ins.

Forget CCTV, many modern home security camera systems have WiFi capability so you can monitor them through your smartphone. And if you have the DIY skills, you could even install them yourself.

Video doorbells are an increasingly popular home security system.

7. Join Neighbourhood Watch

Join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, or create your own if there isn’t one up and running.

Around 2.3 million households across the UK are already involved. Neighbourhood Watch schemes encourage neighbours to create safer and more connected communities by collectively addressing concerns about local crime and anti-social behaviour, sharing knowledge and co-ordinating with local police.

Visit the Neighbourhood Watch Association to find a local scheme or get advice on setting up your own.

Joining a scheme could not only help keep your home safe – it might even get you a discount on your home insurance.

8. Get a home alarm

Invest in a home security system to deter thieves and it could help lower the cost of your home insurance.

Depending on the system, burglar alarms will sound if they’re triggered by an external door or window being opened, or by an internal motion sensor.

The loud alarm could alert your neighbours to a break-in and hopefully even scare off the potential thief.

The alarm might also connect automatically to a private security service that will alert the police or, in the case of modern smart security systems, notify you on your smartphone.

9.Control your lighting remotely

Your home is at greater risk when you’re not around. But if you’ve got lights switching on and off at various times, it might be enough to convince potential thieves that you’re home.

Remote controlled lighting systems let you set timers for your lights to come on and off. With smart lighting systems you can even control your lights with an app on your phone.

10. Install outdoor lighting

Consider adding some security lights outside for when it gets dark in the evenings or early mornings. Motion sensor lights may help deter thieves but won’t unduly disturb neighbours.

11. Make sure your garden is secure

If you have expensive furniture, a hi-tech BBQ or even an external oil tank in your garden, it could be an attractive, easy target for thieves.

Even if there’s nothing worth stealing in your garden, it’s still important to keep it secure, as it can provide an easy way for thieves to break into your home.

Think about some tactical planting and landscaping to make your garden less accessible to thieves and install padlocks on any rear or side gates.

It’s also a good idea to make sure any security cameras or outside lights you install cover your garden as well as your home. Read our guide for more garden security tips.

12. Don't post holiday pics on social media

Be careful about broadcasting your whereabouts on social media as it can alert thieves to the fact that your home is empty. Wait until you get home before posting any holiday snaps. Read our guide to protecting your home while you’re away.

You should also cancel or divert any deliveries – boxes left on the door step can be a tell-tale sign for thieves.

Royal Mail can hold onto your mail  for up to 100 days while you’re away, for a fee with its Keepsafe service.

13. Regularly check and update your security

Every now and then make sure all the locks on your home and any other security systems you have installed are working correctly.

Locks can degrade or warp over time and burglar alarms need to be tested and serviced yearly by a professional. Security cameras can easily become dislodged or the view obscured by growing plants.

Before you go on holiday, do a thorough check of all your windows and doors, your shed and other outbuildings, and make sure cameras and any motion sensors are charged and working properly.
As security systems become more and more advanced, so do burglars. To keep on top of your home security, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s out there and consider upgrading if you find a solution that better protects your home.

As security systems become more and more advanced, so do burglars. To keep on top of your home security, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s out there and consider upgrading if you find a solution that better protects your home.

14. Get home insurance

There are many ways to better protect your home and make it less enticing to thieves, but for peace of mind, it’s reassuring to know that your home contents are protected if you are the victim of a break-in. Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged in a fire or flood.

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Frequently asked questions

What are British Standards Locks?

The British Standards Institute (BSI) is the UK’s national standards body. BS3621 locks (as they’re known) meet the BSI standards for being resistant to thieves. Some home insurance providers will require you to have BS3621 locks installed on your home before they will insure you. Find out more about the insurance requirements for house locks.

How do digital door viewers work?

Digital door viewers or smart doorbell cameras allow you to see and communicate with whoever’s at your door before you open it, usually through an app on your phone. You can use them to assess a person before you open your home to them or see who’s calling on you when you’re not at home.

Smart door cameras allow you to record the footage, either when the camera is triggered by the motion sensor or, in some cases, 24/7, which could help with identifying criminals or reporting suspicious activity.

Can I claim for burglary on my home insurance if I left a door or window unlocked?

It’s unlikely that any claim for stolen items will be paid if a burglar gets in to your home through an unlocked or open door or window.

Home insurance providers will normally want to see evidence of forced entry before paying any claim for theft.

So make sure to lock all your doors and windows whenever you go out, even if you’re only popping out for a few minutes.

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