Alarms are often a sore point with policyholders who often disagree with the level of alarm protection required by insurers, particularly as alarms are generally a requirement stipulated by insurers for certain risks, rather than something that enables an additional discount to be provided.

So what type of alarm do I need, and which ones do insurers accept?

Alarm Grades

Alarms will be ‘graded’ dependent on their sophistication and signalling method.

Generally they fall into 4 categories. Different insurers may have different requirements for each grade, so check carefully before installing any system that insurers need to approve!

Grade 1 – A mains powered alarm with a battery back-up and a siren, known as Audible-Only or Bells-Only

Grade 2 – As Grade 1 but with a function to notify a set number of ‘keyholders’ also known as a speech dialler. To get the best out of this type of alarm, keyholders should be no more than 20 mins away from the premises

Grade 3 – As Grade 1 but with a notification sent to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) who will then contact nominated keyholders as appropriate, known as a monitored alarm

Grade 4 – As Grade 3 but where the ARC can request a police response immediately after the alarm has been activated

Alarms can be either landline based or with a mobile network signal – a mobile signal is preferable but if you do have a landline one, consider getting Dual Path which provides a different phone line if the first one is cut.

Another feature to consider is confirmed signalling – this is where 2 or more sensors must be activated before the alarm goes off and is mandatory if you want police response.

What Alarm Do I Need?

If you are thinking about getting one installed – it is definitely worth checking with your insurer to see which one they require. If an alarm is required to comply with your insurance cover, then insurers often need an approved system and prefer a grade 3 or above alarm. They may consider lower specified alarms, but this would need to be agreed.

Grades 1 & 2 – Best if you have a low value of tools, equipment and/or stock at your property and if the keyholder lives close to the property. Insurers may not ‘approve’ these systems.

Grade 3 – If you have a moderate value of goods at risk. By at risk, we mean easily taken things such as boxes of light stock, portable computers, cash boxes that aren’t in safes, portable tools etc.

Grade 4 – If you have a high value of stock/equipment at the property, if your property itself looks or is high-value or if there would be any danger to yourself or the keyholders in attending the property in the event of the alarm being activated (such as a spate of violent crime in the neighbourhood).

I’ve chosen my alarm, what next?

Our best advice is to be absolutely certain that if insurers are making an alarm a condition of the policy that you check with them the proposed specification of the alarm before agreeing to have it installed. Insurers will usually require you to use an installer who is NSI or SSAIB accredited and to have the same company or a company with the same accreditation maintain the alarm.

If any aspect of the alarm changes, for example Police response is withdrawn, it is essential to inform your insurer, as this could lead to a claim not being covered if they are unaware of the changes.

And don’t forget, if you are likely to grow your business and increase your sums insured, you may need to upgrade your alarm at a later date, so getting the right alarm installed first time may save money in the long run.

As we are based in Nottingham, the list of Nottingham-Based alarm installers with SSAIB accreditation can be found here but you can use the same website or the NSI website to search for an installer near you.


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