Failing To Arm Your Alarm Could Invalidate Your Insurance Claim


That quick nip out to the shops, fetching the kids from school or a visit to a friend down the road for a tipple while the game is on, is often tempting enough to leave the alarm off - after all you won’t be gone for long.

But while you’re out and about you receive an unwelcome visit from a gang of burglars and your prized possessions are quickly loaded into the waiting bakkie, uninterrupted and without the time pressure of a wailing alarm and the armed response vehicle just minutes away.  While they’re at it, they pick up the keys for the car parked in the garage and hit the jackpot. 

It’s a scenario that’s all too common in Gaborone’s suburbia.  House robberies are very prevalent and burglars really don’t need a lot of time to make off with your household contents and parked vehicles.  What many policy holders don’t consider is that if your policy has what we call an ‘alarm warranty’ and you don’t arm it when the property is left unattended, you could find your claim rejected or the settlement dramatically reduced if you should be unfortunate enough to be burgled.

Most insurers will provide specific conditions to their cover when it comes to security measures for your home or property, and more specifically regarding the alarm system:
• Firstly the alarm will need to be in full working order and, linked to an armed response company.  It’s important to check your alarm regularly to make sure that all is in order. 
• Secondly, it’s important to ensure that none of the passive motion detectors are obstructed or bypassed when arming the alarm system.  If you have pets, make sure you have pet-friendly sensors installed so they do not keep triggering the alarm.
• Thirdly and most importantly, your policy may specify that if your home is left unattended, the alarm has to be armed or your claim may be rejected in the unfortunate event of a burglary. 
• Another important point, although not linked to the alarm, is that insurers may specify that all opening doors and windows are required to have burglar proofing or security gates installed.  So those renovations you did last year and the window in your new room that you have not yet burglar proofed could cost you dearly.
• Remember that some insurers will still provide cover even where the is no monitored alarm but just burglar bars

Insurers will always ask what security measures you have in place such as burglar alarms and burglar proofing as part of their risk assessment when calculating your premiums.  In some instances these may even be a specific condition of cover before agreeing to cover you.  Obviously the higher the level of security you have in place, the lower the risk and this in turn will reduce the cost of your household policy premium. 

But if you don’t use your alarm or forget to arm it when leaving the property unattended and you are subsequently burgled, you may have your claim turned down as your insurer could argue that you have failed to take reasonable steps to protect your property.   In order for your insurance to respond appropriately in your time of need, it is important to do your part and comply with insurance provisions and take every reasonable measure to avoid the risks in the first place.  

Always make a point of reading all the clauses, warranties and conditions on your insurance policy and if you are unsure of anything, speak to your broker for clarity.  Also remember that your insurer may also send you regular updates to your existing policy, so make sure you read these and implement where necessary.  Any updates will supersede existing clauses in your policy so make sure you pay attention to their content.

Given the increasing crime rate in Botswana, it makes sense to take all measures possible to safeguard yourself, your loved ones and your property and possessions.  If you are insured, it’s important to weigh up the real costs of claiming for an event that could have been avoided in the first place.