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10 Questions to Ask Before Getting a Home Alarm System

Posted: April 22, 2014

Are you considering having a monitored home security system installed? If so, you want to make an informed decision to get the best and most reliable protection possible for your investment. Before signing up with a monitored home security system provider, ask the following questions and be sure you're satisfied with the answers.

1. What is the installation cost and length of monitoring contract?

Some companies offer free installation, but in return you may have to agree to a lengthy contract. Don't sign up for a contract until you know how long it lasts and whether it renews automatically.

2. What is the warranty on the physical components of the system?

Monitored home security systems consist of several physical hardware items. You'll have a control panel, detectors and sensors, and perhaps a battery backup system. Find out what you should do if one of these components fails and how long the pieces remain under warranty.

3. Is the service transferrable if I move?

If there is a chance you'll be moving within the next couple of years, don't sign a contract until you determine whether the service can be transferred or what you'll have to do to cancel your service.

4. What do I have to do if I want to cancel the service? Are there early termination fees?

In the event you're not satisfied with your home security system provider, you need to know what cancellation involves. If you want to cancel the contract before it's up for renewal, will there be early termination fees? You definitely don't want any surprises in this area.

5. Are you an authorized dealer?

Obtaining your home security system from an authorized dealer is a smart choice because it can protect you from certain issues. Non-authorized dealers may offer systems at lower prices, but they may not be able to guarantee parts and service, which can cost you greatly in the long term.

6. Can I mix and match among the components?

Some installation packages are fixed, meaning that every homeowner is offered the same suite of components. But what if you would rather have two motion detectors in exchange for window chimes? Will you have to pay extra to get the setup you want? Find out before you commit.

7. How much do add-ons cost?

Many homeowners are willing to add extras to their systems for convenience or better security. For example, people with multi-story homes often choose to have a control panel on each floor for convenience. Get prices before you commit to having any extras installed.

8. Does the system work if the power goes out?

Battery backup is very important in the event of a power outage. Many systems come standard with a battery backup, which can be reassuring if you live where severe weather is common. Furthermore, it prevents an intruder from disabling the system by cutting off power to your home.

9. Ask your insurance company: Can I get a discount on my premiums?

Some homeowners insurance companies may offer premium discounts of up to 20% for clients who install home security systems. Ask your insurance provider if discounts are available and how you go about taking advantage of them.

10. Ask your local law enforcement: Do I need to register my home security system?

Increasing numbers of cities are requiring homeowners to register their home security systems with local law enforcement. These ordinances are usually passed to keep the number of false alarms under control. In many cases, registering your system with your city is free, but you will have to pay for false alarms if police are dispatched. Often you get one "free" false alarm, but are cited for subsequent ones. By asking these important questions before committing to a particular home security system, you increase your chances of being satisfied with your system and avoiding unpleasant surprises related to moving, terminating contracts or false alarms.