How Can I Protect My Home? Indoor, Outdoor and Cyber Defense
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From setting up a home security system to upgrading your doors and locks, we’ve compiled the different ways of how to protect your home and make it a safe haven for you and your loved ones.
1. Set Up a Security System
A home security system can detect and deter intruders, alert you and the authorities to any unauthorized entry or suspicious activity and provide evidence in case of a crime. If you use smart home devices, you can even monitor your home remotely and receive alerts the moment a security breach occurs. If set up properly, your system can notify your local police.
A home security system may include:
- Motion detectors
- Door and window sensors
- Alarm systems
- Access control measures,
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2. Secure Doors and Windows
You can make it more difficult for intruders to gain entry into your home by installing sturdy locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows.
Give your front door particular attention as it is a common entry point for thieves. In fact, 34% of burglars will simply open the front door and walk into someone's home. First-floor windows make up 23% of entry points used by burglars and 22% use the back door.
3. Take Inventory of Your Belongings
Having a home inventory list can also help you keep track of your possessions and identify any missing items if your home is burglarized. Your home inventory should compile information about your personal belongings, including receipts, photos and dates of purchase. These details will come in handy when calculating your total losses when filing an insurance claim.
4. Store Important Documents in a Safe Place
Storing important documents, like passports, birth certificates, wills, deeds and insurance policies, in a fireproof safe or a secure offsite location can provide additional protection against fire or burglary. In case of an emergency or the need to access important information, having a designated location for important documents can save time and hassle.
5. Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight
By keeping valuable items, such as jewelry, electronics and cash, hidden from view, you can reduce the risk of attracting the attention of potential intruders. This can include keeping curtains or blinds closed and not leaving valuables in plain sight near windows or doors.
Don’t forget your car, either. While homeowners insurance may cover items stolen in your car, you should still keep valuables out of sight or stored in your trunk.
6. Remove Hiding Places
By trimming or removing overgrown foliage and branches, you can increase the visibility of your property, making it harder for intruders to approach your home without being noticed. This can also make it easier for you, your neighbors or your security cameras to spot suspicious behavior, including break-ins and vandalism.
7. Make Sure Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work
Smoke detectors can provide early warning of a fire, giving you and your family enough time to evacuate safely. Ensuring that these critical sensors are functioning properly can help minimize the risk of injury or death due to a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Your insurer may even lower your home insurance premium by up to 5% if you maintain your home sensors.
8. Install Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting can illuminate dark areas and make it more difficult for intruders to approach your home without being noticed. Motion-activated lights can provide an added layer of security, as they can startle and deter potential intruders.
9. Ensure Your WiFi Network Is Secure
An unsecured WiFi network exposes your personal and financial information to hackers. Learn how to secure your home network by setting up a strong network password, enabling encryption and updating your router software regularly. Also, be careful with using public WiFi networks, which can be easily compromised. Stick with your own secure internet connection. If you want extra coverage, consider adding identity theft protection to your homeowners policy.
10. Lock Your Garage Door
Garages often contain valuable possessions, such as vehicles, tools and other equipment, making them an attractive target for burglars. By keeping your garage doors locked, you can reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your property. This can include securing the garage door with a strong and reliable lock and ensuring that the windows and any other access points are also properly secured.
11. Leave a Light on When You’re Out
Burglars are creatures of convenience, meaning they would rather rob from an empty house versus an occupied one.. Leaving a few lights on can help give the appearance of you being home, which will in turn, deter thieves and vandals from doing anything unsavory to your home or possessions.
12. Don’t Announce When You’ll Be Away
Keeping your plans close to the vest can help prevent thieves and other criminals from entering your home. As it has been said, thieves and vandals are less inclined to do anything if they think the house they’re looking at has people inside. So, keeping vacation plans and the like off of social media and between you and a few trusted people will help you protect your home.
13. Reconsider Where You Hide Your Spare Key
Finding a new place to put your spare key will help safeguard your property, as places like under doormats and planters are easily accessible areas for criminals to check. Change up where your hiding key is and place it somewhere unexpected and make it more difficult for intruders to do their work. Consider leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor or a family member who lives nearby.
14. Communicate With Your Neighbor and USPS
A trusted neighbor can help keep an eye on your home while you are away, alerting you or the authorities of any suspicious activity. If your home will be vacant for an extended period, consider giving them access to your home so they can check on things while you’re gone. Don’t forget to give them your alarm system’s code if you have one so it won’t accidentally alert the local authorities. You can always change the code later.
If you're looking to go out of town for a time, contact USPS and you can halt your mail delivery for up to 30 days. Your mail will be held at your local post office so you can pick it up when you return from your trip. Doing so will help cut down on mail theft.
15. Install Solid, High Fencing
A sturdy and tall fence along your home’s perimeter does more than provide privacy. It can act as a deterrent for potential burglars, making it harder for them to gain access to your property. Just be sure to check for any gaps in the fence that can make it easy for somebody to slip through unnoticed.
Why Is It Important To Ensure Your Home Is Safe?
Ensuring your home is safe can help reduce the risk of incidents at your home, thereby lowering the likelihood of filing an insurance claim.
Having few to no claims in your recent history helps keep your premiums as low as possible. Conversely, filing a claim recently will likely increase your premiums when you renew your policy.
How To File a Home Insurance Claim
If your home is burglarized or vandalized, follow these steps to file a home insurance claim:
- Call the police: If there was a break-in, then you should notify the local authorities. The police report will also come in handy when filing a claim.
- Contact your insurance company: Notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Depending on your insurer, you can start the claims process via phone, mobile app or online portal.
- Provide information: Provide your insurance company with the incident’s date, time, location, a description of your losses and other relevant details. Having a home inventory list comes in handy when reporting the value of stolen or damaged belongings.
- Meet with the adjuster: Your insurance company may send an adjuster to assess the damage and estimate the cost of your losses. Make sure to provide the adjuster with any relevant information and answer any questions they may have.
- Receive payment: If your claim is approved, your insurance company will reimburse you for the cost of repairs or replacing damaged or stolen items.