17 Questions To Ask Every Home Security System Company

17 Questions To Ask Every Home Security System Company

Homeowners considering a new monitored home security system have many choices on the market. Gathering information to compare home security system providers before you buy can help you find the most reliable protection at the best price point. Use these questions as you compare providers to make your search more efficient and to find the best home security system for your family's needs.

1. How much will installation cost?
Many companies advertise free installation but will usually require a contract binding you to their monitoring service for a long period afterward. This may not actually save you money, so find out all the details for the length of the contract, whether it will automatically renew, and whether there are other options.

2. What does the warranty include?
There are several physical pieces of equipment that are essential to a monitored home security systems, including the control panel, sensors for doors and windows, and optional battery backups. Not all warranties cover equipment, and some may cover only certain components. Get a detailed list of how long each piece will be under warranty and the process for making a warranty claim if one or more parts should fail.  

3. Can I transfer my service to my next home?
Most contracts for monitored security systems cover at least a full year of service. If moving to a new home is likely within that time frame, ask whether there are transfer options and how much notice is necessary if you need to cancel service altogether.

4. Will I pay a fee if I cancel my service early?
Contracts often include language about an early termination fee for ending service before the contract renewal term is over. Find out what that fee would cost and what the process for cancelling service includes if you decide the security system isn’t meeting your needs.

5. Is this an authorized supplier?
Any company can sell home security equipment, but working with an authorized dealer gives you access to the quality guarantees and warranty claims process from a single company. You might get a lower up front cost from an unauthorized dealer, but handling problems that arise with equipment later will cost you more in time and money.  

6. Can I customize my package?
Most security companies offer packages of bundled products and services, but not all companies will allow you to pick and choose the components that will best fit your home. Especially if you have an unusual floor plan or specific security concerns, find out if you can pay extra to add a motion detector or door chime without having to upgrade to a package that includes unneeded elements.

7. How much does adding features cost?
Some upgrade costs add desirable convenience or value to a basic security system. Having a control panel on each floor or extra sensors makes using the system in a large house easier and more effective. Ask your company how much common add-ons will increase the budget and have these upgrades included in the written quote.

8. Am I covered in a power outage?
Security systems are powered by electricity and will go inactive if the power is disrupted from storms or damage. A battery backup can keep the system working even during frequent storms, or if the power is intentionally cut during a break-in. Battery backup is not always a standard inclusion in the system installation, but may be available for an upgrade cost.

9. Will this help me get a discount on my home insurance?
A discount on homeowner insurance premiums may be available to consumers who install a monitored home security system. Ask the security company if they have worked with insurers to get discounts and ask your insurance provider how much they can discount your policy.

10. Do I need to register my system with local police?
Because local law enforcement will be dispatched to a house where an alarm goes off, monitored systems are integrated to your local police. In order to keep false alarms at a minimum, some municipalities require homeowners with security systems to register with the city at no cost. Ask what the local policies are for registration and what fines might be involved for multiple false alarms.

11. How do you screen your employees?
Ironically, the installers and staff who help you purchase a home security system have access to your most personal information that can be used for identity theft or to target your home for criminal activity. Ask how the company will protect your social security number, address, and payment information. Additionally, ask what background checks are performed on the installers who will work inside your home and how those security checks are updated over time.

12. How do I get the exact coverage I want?
Free installation or a free equipment package sound great during the sales pitch, but these kind of incentive packages may not include enough sensors to adequately cover your home. Find out the details of every offer and what exclusions apply. If there is a gap between what a company wants to sell you and the coverage you need to have peace of mind, ask for specific quotes for how to bridge that gap with upgraded equipment.

13. What ratings and qualifications does this monitoring company have?
There are qualifications available within the security system monitoring industry that rate companies based on customer service, the training given to emergency response agents, and the number of false alarms. A 5 Diamond Rated company will provide you the highest quality of service and maximize your peace of mind after installation.

14. Who owns the equipment?
There are several ways to utilize a security system: you can purchase the equipment outright, in which case it becomes part of the home appliances and remains in the house when you move, or you can lease the equipment and have it moved between locations. Installation may be cheaper or even free for a lease agreement, but you will likely be paying more each month for this kind of flexible agreement.

15. How do I know my equipment is up to date?
Before you sign a contract, ask about the age and use of the equipment to make sure it has not been used in another home. Find out whether you will have the most current and up to date software in the control panel and monitoring equipment and if there is a process to keep that software updated as future updates are released.

16. Is this system all inclusive?
Each homeowner has different concerns and needs for safety, and reputable companies will draft a customized package to meet those needs. A set system package that is advertised as free, or all-inclusive may actually have gaps in coverage that compromise the security of your home.

17. What fees can I expect during the service contract?
Some charges and fees come after installation. If the city where you live requires an annual alarm permit, you will be responsible for those yearly fees. Because they are paid to the city, not the company, these fees can take some homeowners by surprise after they are already in contract. Any fees for repeat false alarm calls incurred by the customer would also be paid directly to the municipality, not the security company, and won’t appear on your contract. Read the contract carefully for language about “future fee increases” and ask your company how much fees have increased over past contract terms and what notice you will have for any future price hikes.

Choosing a home security system is one of the most important decisions a homeowner can make to protect their investment. Working with a reputable company who can answer these questions will give you the peace of mind that your family is safe.