13 Questions to Ask Your Home Security Providers

13 Questions to Ask Your Home Security Providers

Having a quality home security system should provide confidence and peace of mind to homeowners. Based on research into the reviews of top ranked home security providers, there are several characteristics that the very best companies share. If you’re considering an alarm system to increase your comfort and protection, ask these questions to find the best home security to meet your needs.

1. How long have you been in business?
A newer company can certainly provide good service, but a totally inexperienced company may make more mistakes. Try to only consider home security companies with a minimum of three years of operation. This will ensure they have completed a fair number of installations and that any company reviews will include customers who have more than a year of customer service to give feedback on.  

2. Who can I expect to come to my home?
Many home security companies use sub-contractors to complete an installation, which means a van with a different name may appear in your driveway unexpectedly. This does not necessarily indicate a poor level of service, but a representative from the security company should be able to name the subcontractors they work with and give you a good idea of exactly who will enter your home for the installation process.

3. Do you use a dedicated monitoring center?
Not all security companies monitor their own clients with in-house software. The centers where monitoring takes place are expensive, so some companies subcontract these duties to another group that may or may not be in your local area. If keeping the monitoring local or bundled with your security equipment company is important to you, make sure to get this information before choosing a company.

4. Do you provide both installation and post-sale service?
Salesmen, installers, security monitoring agents, and customer service representatives are all key personnel in a home security system support staff. Larger companies hire all these positions under one employer who maintains control over the screening, training, and quality of their work. Smaller companies, or those cutting costs, will subcontract some or all of these positions to other companies. Ask exactly which employees the security system company will be supervising, and where these staff come from.

5. Is back-up cellular radio necessary for my alarm system?
In an age where less homeowners carry a land-line phone service, it can be harder to monitor your alarm system if your cellular phone leaves the home or is powered off. A cellular radio can be used as an optional back-up alarm transmission for homes with traditional phone service, or a required primary transmission for homes without land lines. It is possible to have a security system without a phone line or cellular radio, but it is not possible for that system to be monitored.

6. Will I own the security system?
Usually consumers have a choice between leasing the security system equipment and buying it outright. There is no single best way to approach paying for home security. Depending on how expensive the equipment will be, how long you are planning to live in the house, or what financing options are available, there are positives and negatives to both leasing and owning the system. Ask each company you interview to provide quotes that show both options with pricing and service details.

7. Does my system have to be monitored?
It is possible to have a local, or unmonitored, security system and plenty of companies will provide this service for you. While this is cheaper on a monthly basis, it may not be a significant value. Adding the monitoring service will certainly increase the security of your home and may even decrease the cost of purchasing the system equipment or the installation fees. Monitored systems will also likely qualify for a cost reduction in your homeowner’s insurance.

8. How can I let people know I have monitored security service?
Companies often provide their customers decals for their windows or yard signs that indicate they are monitoring the premises with a new security system. While this provides free advertising to the company, it also deters potential criminals. If a security problem does occur, these signs and stickers are an easy reference for homeowners to remember the company name to help the dispatcher alert the police, and for law enforcement to find your house more quickly. Avoid any company that cannot provide these markers, or that asks to charge you extra for this service.

9. What installation options do you offer?
Wireless installations are the hot new trend with benefits such as speed and ease of installation and potentially lower costs. For these reasons, wireless installation may be your only option with many companies. However, wired security systems are still on the market, and may work better for your peace of mind. If you want a wired system, don’t settle for a company that doesn’t offer them, and don’t let a salesperson convince you wireless is the only reasonable choice.

10. Can I change monitoring companies if I’m unhappy with my service?
Most contracts will include an early termination fee, but there may be other costs involved with switching providers. Check to see if the company contracts proprietary systems only. If so, you will be unable to keep the same equipment and transfer monitoring companies and will need to start the installation process over from scratch to work with another company. Systems that are exclusive to one company are also usually not able to be upgraded from another equipment dealer.

11. Can the company work directly with my home insurance agency?
Some home insurance agencies offer discounts or reduced premiums for customers with a monitored alarm system. Most home security companies should be able to provide a homeowner’s insurance certificate that functions as proof of the security system to qualify for these discounts. Ask your companies if they can send this document directly to the insurance agent. Find out how long it will take after installation to receive the certificate from the security company.

12. How do I get help with the system after installation?
While the monitoring staff for your new security system should be working 24-hours a day, customer service for your system may still be limited to inconvenient business hours. Ask your company if they offer phone or online support outside of business hours, and make sure they can be reached during holidays and weekends when many security alerts take place. Get contact information for phone support and find out where the customer service staff are located so you know whether to expect a local office or an international call center.

13. How would a move affect my security system contract?
It’s normal for families to move within a few years of starting home security service, but the sooner you know your plans, they more a company can help you choose the right package for your needs. A long contract term with early termination fees is a bad idea for families who know they could be relocated for work on short notice, and some system equipment will carry over to the new homeowners, leaving you stuck paying for security for another family. Find out if there are flexible contracts, or what other options for possible change of address your company can offer.

Finding a new home security system is more complicated than simply choosing the top-rated business online. The best companies offer multiple options and will listen to your questions and concerns with a professional attitude and well-researched answers. Because your family’s safety and your peace of mind are on the line, it’s important to ask these questions to any providers you consider before inviting strangers to install and monitor the security of your home.