Asking the right questions is the best way to determine if a certain home security company will be capable of meeting your needs. Thankfully, there are many questions you can ask your security company to find out how effective their services are.
But determining what questions to ask a home security company may be very difficult for people who do not have an in-depth understanding of the industry. Often important details may be omitted or overlooked.
To avoid this, below you will find a thorough list of the questions you should consider asking every home security company.
How Long Have You Been In Business?
Most experts will agree that the experience of the company is important. After all, a company that has been operational for longer has had the time to develop and fine-tune its safety procedures and practices.
That being said, just because a company may have been recently founded does not automatically mean they cannot be good at their job.
However, older companies can also be more reputable and have a better record and standing with the authorities due to lower rates of false alarms. This on its own can mean you are more likely to receive better and faster response times from police and fire departments.
Do You Have a License to Provide Security Service?
If you are dealing with any of the more well-known and reputable home security providers, the chances are they have the necessary licenses. Nonetheless, it is still a question that should be part of one’s due diligence.
Check if the company is UL Certified and FM Approved.
Is a Contract Required?
Most companies used to require their clients to sign long-term contracts, often lasting between 2 to 5 years.
Needless to say, many customers did not like that.
Today most home security companies have slowly been moving to subscription-based services that do not involve long-term contracts and can often be canceled at nearly any time by the customer.
You want to see what options the company can offer. Are their plans subscription-based, or you need to sign a long-term contract.
What Happens If I Want to Cancel My Contract?
This may seem like an obvious question, but many people may overlook it.
Unfortunately, some contracts are not easy to get out of. Some people have found that they may need to pay steep buyout fees if they want to cancel their contract.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure to inquire about the company’s policies regarding canceling your contract.
Do not forget to check with the company if the contract needs to be renewed, once it expires, and whether it renews automatically.
How Much Will I Have to Pay?
Most security companies tend to use very similar types of sensors, cameras, and equipment. So it should not be a surprise that you may receive somewhat identical answers to some of your questions.
Home security companies usually differ in two main areas: (1) monthly costs and (2) the quality of the personnel they employ.
Enquire about their different monitoring plans and how much they cost. Prices can vary a lot depending on where you live, extra features, and other factors.
Are There Any Upfront Costs?
Depending on the company’s business policies and practices, some may require you to pay upfront the equipment’s cost.
There can be upsides and downsides to that.
Companies that ask you to pay for the equipment upfront may come with very low monthly subscription costs, while others will provide free equipment but have significantly higher monthly costs.
Is the System Professionally Monitored?
Not all companies offer 24/7 professionally monitored systems. Some people prefer to opt for self-monitoring. However, in many cases ensuring somebody keeps an eye on your home if something goes wrong is often worth having.
What Happens If an Alarm Is Triggered?
Although most companies operate identically, you should have a good understanding of what happens if an alarm has been triggered.
Usually, most companies will call the homeowner if an alarm has been triggered to confirm if this is truly an emergency. If they cannot reach the homeowner, they may dispatch a unit to the address. However, different companies may work differently.
Sometimes the little differences in their procedures can make all the difference.
Are There Any Fail-Safe Features?
In addition to that, you can also ask if the company performs regular checks and testing of their systems.
You will want to find out if the system has self-checking features and extra backup if something with the system’s communication to the security center fails.
- If your Wi-Fi goes out, is there a cellular backup?
- Is the system capable of informing you if a sensor has failed?
What Are Your Response Rates?
The company’s response rates are one of the most important things you need to inquire about.
In an emergency, every second matters.
Ask for the company’s base response rates and how they typically vary. Note the numbers down and compare them to other home security providers.
Where Is the Company Located?
It is always a good rule of thumb to know who you are dealing with and where they are located.
A locally based company may have a better understanding of your local regulations, security concerns, and laws as well as provide better service and maintenance.
Is monitoring outsourced?
Just because the company’s headquarters is located in one place does not mean that their call and monitoring centers are located in the same area.
Sometimes they may even be located in different countries many miles away or use third-party monitoring centers.
Although this is typically not a problem as companies have certain standards to adhere to, this can lead to occasional hiccups.
Are Any Background Checks on Employees Carried Out?
Let’s not forget that there are people on the other end of the line who have a certain level of access to your data and information. And since we are talking about security companies, it is important to know if they do background checks on their employees, technicians, and any third parties that they may be using.
How Can I Contact Support if Needed?
You never know when you might need to get help from their support team. Some companies may be contacted in different ways, for example, calling them (ideally on a toll-free number), using their chat system, or sending them an email.
Ask the company how you can get in touch with them and what the best ways to do that are.
What Brand of Equipment Do You Use?
Not all companies are created equal, and while some may have their own proprietary equipment, others may be using third-party equipment.
Make sure to find out the brand of the equipment they use and do your due diligence on the effectiveness and reputation of said brand.
Can I Use Your Equipment With Other Home Security Companies?
Many companies may use proprietary equipment that cannot be used with other home security providers.
This may be a concern if there is a chance of you having to use a different provider for some reason because you can end up stuck with equipment worth thousands of dollars that you cannot use.
What Features Does Your Equipment and Systems Offer?
Most companies will be more than happy to answer this question boasting about the advanced features their home security systems offer.
Nonetheless, you want to have a deep and thorough understanding of what their systems are capable of. For example, check if they offer:
- Live video streaming
- Video recording and storage
- Remote access
- A mobile app
- Different types of notifications (email, phone)
Do You Offer Home Automation and Smart Home Security Devices?
Today smart home devices are very popular because they are very convenient. Many of these can offer different levels of home automation and neat security features.
It is worth digging deeper into what smart devices the company offers, how easy they are to integrate with other smart gadgets, and how well they work.
Are There Additional Products That I Need to Purchase?
Although the low price of some home security systems can be very tempting, it may be misleading as you may end up having to purchase additional products. Ask for more details on what you will receive with your home security system. Pay attention to how everything is phrased and explained.
Do You Offer Warranty With Your Home Security System?
Check what is covered under the warranty. Devices may fail, and things can get broken. Understanding the scope of the warranty and how long it lasts is always helpful.
Is the System Fully DIY, or Do I Need It to Be Professionally Installed?
DIY home security systems are becoming more and more popular. The reason is very simple—the homeowner can install it in little to no time. There is no need to call a professional technician and pay extra labor costs.
Some companies may provide both solutions, so do not hesitate to ask.
Is the Company Liable In the Event of a Successful Burglary?
Many people may forget to ask if the company is liable if a successful burglary occurs and how much in damages they are liable for.
Does Your Security System Qualify Me for a Homeowners Insurance Discount?
A proper high-end home security system provided by a reputable company can not only be a lifesaver and protect your property from criminals but can also save you money on your home insurance.
The best savings can usually be made with reputable 24/7 professionally monitored systems. However, for the best up-to-date information, homeowners should check with their insurance companies.
Overall the percentage on your homeowner’s insurance that you can save can be fairly high, so it is well worth enquiring if the company’s equipment will qualify you for a discount and if they can provide you with the necessary paperwork that may be needed.
What Happens If I Move?
This is something that applies to both homeowners and renters. Things happen, and anybody may decide to move to a new place. In that case, you need to know what the company’s moving policies are.
Sometimes all you will need to do is call them and let them know what your new address is so that they can update it on their system. Other times there may be steep moving fees. There are a few different questions you’ll want to ask them like:
- Do I get to keep the equipment?
- Do I lose the warranty if I move?
- Do I need to pay moving fees or fees for account information updates?
- Do I need to pay for a professional to remove and reinstall the security system?
What Happens If Something Stops Working?
This question is tied with the warranty the company offers.
What types of failures are covered by the warranty. Is the company going to send replacements, and how fast will they respond, including delivery times. Will they offer to repair the equipment, how long will it take, and are there additional costs that you should expect?
Are There Any Referral Programs?
Some companies may offer referral programs where you could get a small bonus or credit if you bring a friend. It is worth knowing if they do offer such programs and what their requirements are.
Conclusion: Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home Security System
In this article, we’ve provided 26 questions that are essential to ask when reviewing home security companies. It may seem like a lot, but don’t forget to take it seriously. You’d be surprised how many homeowners don’t make the effort to vet their security company.
As you already know, the home security system is one of the most important elements in creating a safe and secure environment. However, the purchase process can be a bit more confusing because there are so many companies offering different services and products.
If you decide to buy a home security system through a reputable company, you can be assured that it will do everything it can to safeguard your family. With so many options it’s important to find a company that matches your needs and is willing to provide honest answers.