Burglar-proofing your home can help you get insurance discounts

Beefing up your home's security can mean peace of mind not only for you, but for your insurer. No break-ins means no claims -- and many home insurance companies are willing to reward homeowners with premium discounts if they make their homes less welcoming to burglars.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurers are willing to knock 2 percent to 15 percent off your premium if you install things like deadbolt locks, window grates and alarms. Nationwide, for example, offers a premium discount of up to 15 percent if your home is equipped with burglar alarms, according to its website.

First line of defense: Your home's doors

State Farm recommends using deadbolt locks ranked "Grade 1" by the American National Standards Institute ANSI). Many contractors fail to install these high-quality locks because of their cost, according to State Farm.

Installing a better deadbolt lock will not necessarily ward off determined burglars, however. If your door is not made of strong material, it can be kicked in. Also, if someone with a key to your home a housekeeper, for example) makes a copy and hands it off to a thief, gaining access to your home becomes a lot easier. For this reason, State Farm recommends using key control. Controlled keys cost more. But they can be copied only by the original manufacturer -- and only the person to whom a key is "registered" can request a copy.

Sound the alarm

Equipping your home with burglar alarms can be expensive. But insurance companies offer premium discounts to homeowners who install them for a reason -- they are effective at deterring burglars.

According to a Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice study, burglar alarms not only make individual homes less attractive to thieves, they make entire neighborhoods less attractive if enough homes have them. According to the Insurance Information Institute, it's also worth investing in burglar alarms that alert off-site professionals.

Understanding the mentality of burglars

There are other home security measures that won't necessarily result in a direct discount. However, frequent home insurance claims can raise your rate, so preventing break-ins can help keep your premiums low.

According to tips from the California Crime Technological Research Foundation, burglars slipping in through unlocked windows or doors accounted for nearly one-third of break-ins for single-family homes. Other frequent techniques include jimmying or forcing open doors or windows and picking locks.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the burglar likely will leave. To make burglars' jobs more difficult and avoid home insurance claims, the Insurance Information Institute recommends:

  • Installing motion-sensitive lights outside to eliminate dark areas around your house.
  • Cutting back excess shrubbery so that burglars have fewer places to hide.
  • Being mindful about who knows your home address and who has copies of your house keys.
  • Asking someone to pick up your mail while you're on vacation and installing lights timed to turn on and off. Piles of mail and a dark house signal to a burglar that you're out of town.

See how much you could save today on your home insurance. Get your free home insurance quotes today!