Why Insurers Like Alarms

British Telecoms broadband division Openreach are making some big changes to their networks, they are retiring the old copper wire network that serves internet to many businesses and households in the UK and replacing it with a new full fibre system. Openreach expects this work to be completed by December 2026.

It’s important to realise that this may affect your property insurance, specifically there may be a potential impact on existing intruder alarms and what insurers’ requirements for intruder alarm signaling will be in future.

So…what are the big changes to the UK’s telephone infrastructure?

  • The Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) will close in December 2025.
  • By then, every phone line in the UK will have moved to a fully digital network that uses Internet Protocol (IP) across a fibre-based service.
  • This won’t just affect voice services, any equipment that currently uses the PSTN will stop working: alarms, EPOS machines, CCTV, faxes, and so on. It will also affect some Broadband users who will need to upgrade.
  • The Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) will also stop working.

Why is this happening?

  • The current network is old and difficult to maintain.
  • As an essentially 20th century technology, the PSTN is inadequate to meet the demands of the present day.
  • Traditional phone usage is changing everywhere as people switch to mobile and internet communications.

Let’s examine why insurers prefer you to have an intruder alarm and how this benefits your business and what criteria they use to decide if your alarm is appropriate.

What does it mean for my business?

You might find that your current property alarm system may no longer adhere to the standard required by insurers, even if it was compliant previously.

Why do insurers ask for intruder alarms?

Intruder alarm systems commonly prevent or mitigate a variety of crimes such as burglary, robbery, malicious damage or arson – so they are widely recognised by insurers as a good risk feature.

However, for an insurer to recognise an intruder alarm, it does need to meet certain criteria.

How does an alarm prevent or mitigate crimes?

Prevention

  • An alarm deters intruders, an intruder would prefer to target an un-alarmed premises.
  • Audible warnings may alert neighbours. If there is a remote signal, the keyholder and police will respond

Mitigation

  • An alarm will limit the intruder’s time on site and what they can take
  • If police and keyholders attend, they will be at least 5 minutes, so typically if an intruder targets alarmed premises they will limit time on site to 3-4 mins.

What are key criteria for insurers to recognise an Intruder Alarm System?

  • Must be installed / maintained by an approved company.
  • Must be installed to an appropriate standard.
  • Must have sufficient detection devices.
  • Must have a suitable method of signaling.
  • Must have Police Response

Approved intruder alarm companies

The two organisations that insurers (and the police) accept for verifying intruder
alarm companies are working to the appropriate standards are;

  • National Security Inspectorate (NSI)
  • Security Systems Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB).

Alarm Standards

Your alarm system will need to adhere to the BSI European EN50131 standards for alarm systems to qualify for verification by your insurer;

  • Must be EN50131 compliant.
  • Used for all new systems since October 2005.
  • Insurers may require systems to be installed to either Grade 2 (medium to low risk premises) or Grade 3 (high risk premises).
  • BS4737 - relates to the majority of intruder alarms installed prior to October 2005.
  • Systems that were installed to this standard can still be maintained to this standard.

Police Response

Insurers rarely recognise bells only alarms. They will they require remote signaling and Police Response;

  • There are three levels of police response :
  • Level One – Immediate response (subject to priorities).
  • Level Three – Response withdrawn.
  • Level Three - May occur if a system suffers too many false-alarm calls to the police.

What is “sufficient detection”?

Your alarm system must be designed and configured so that when an intruder enters any part of
your protected premises, there is a high degree of certainty that the alarm system will deliver a confirmed message.

  • Probably achieved by contacts on all perimeter doors.
  • Sufficiently and strategically sited movement detectors throughout the premises.

Confirmed message / confirmed activation

A confirmed message is a means by which an alarm system, and related Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) procedures, operate together to ensure that police attendance is only requested if an ARC operator is confident that received alarm activations/signals are likely to relate to a genuine intrusion into your premises.

In most cases, after an initial alarm activation, the ARC wait to see if a second alarm event occurs within a specified time frame; this is called the Confirmation Time.

Detection

For higher risk situations appropriate additional detection will be required;

  • More extensive trap protection.
  • Access points fully protected (e.g. contact plus break-glass detectors or vibration sensor).
  • Protection to walls and skylights etc. (e.g. vibration sensors).

What are key criteria for insurers to recognise an Intruder Alarm System?

  • Must be installed / maintained by an approved company – NSI / SSAIB.
  • Must be installed to an appropriate standard – usually EN 50131 Grade 2 (low/medium risk) or Grade 3 (higher risk).
  • Must have sufficient detection devices – at least contacts on all perimeter doors and sufficient movement detectors at strategic positions throughout the premises to ensure confirmed activation.
  • Must have a suitable method of signaling.
  • Must have Police Response – level 1 / immediate.

Insurers Key Signaling Requirements for alarm systems

Signaling systems (sometimes called Notification methods or Alarm Transmission Systems
[ATS]) need to;

  • Qualify for Level 1 police response
  • Have two signaling paths (known as dual path)
  • Be third party accredited
  • Detect failure of both signalling paths promptly

Signaling types that insurers are likely to approve for a existing system

Single path systems

  • Connected / Self Response Alarms
  • Digital Communicators (DigiCom)
  • Digi-Air
  • Redcare
  • Redcare (Classic)

Dual Path Systems

  • Redcare Secure 2
  • Dual-Com GPRS G2
  • Redcare Secure 3
  • Dual-Com GPRS G3
  • Dual-Com
  • Dual-Com Plus
  • Redcare Secure 4
  • Dual-Com GPRS G4
  • Redcare GSM

Why are new Signaling Products needed?

There have been revisions made to the European Standards for intruder alarms and as a result the development of PD6669 has been released in readiness for the big changes to Openreach’s telephone network.

What is PD 6669?

  • This Published Document (PD) supplements European standards in the UK where dual path systems are commonplace (due to Police Policies on Intruder Alarms).
  • It introduces the concept of catastrophic failure (a signaling path fails followed by the failure of the other signaling path within the ‘reporting time’ of the first path to fail).

Will Openreach actually go ahead with these changes though?

  • YES….it’s already happening!!!
  • About 2 million customers have already had their landlines changed over to IP.
  • Storms earlier this year resulted in some problems for those who have already been switched over and
  • BT postponed the rollout of All IP to residential users until issues have been resolved but hope to recommence roll out shortly.
  • Openreach are continuing with their rollout and there is no such delay for commercial users.

What is the security industry doing to prepare for 2025?

  • The two main providers of signaling systems (Redcare and Dual-Com) have already launched new Internet Protocol and GSM based product lines have developed new IP based product lines.
  • Intruder alarm system providers are being encouraged to upgrade end users to avoid being caught in the chaos of last-minute upgrades in the months before the 2025 full migration date.

“Stop Sells” dates and what they mean

  • Every quarter, Openreach informs service providers (BT, Sky, PlusNet, Talk Talk etc.) which telephone exchanges will be moving into the “Stop Sells” category.
  • They are giving 12 months’ notice.
  • When an exchange moves into “Stop Sells”, new working lines, line takeovers, changes in service providers, restarting of stopped lines and upgrading of broadband can no longer happen – the end user must move to IP.
  • However, once an exchange has moved to “Stop Sells”, the line user can receive notification that their line will be moved to digital at very short notice.
  • Find your local Exchange information here

It’s important to upgrade your alarm system to one that’s suitable for the new network as soon as possible in order to keep your property covered by your insurer so if you have any of the single path systems we’ve mentioned here such as; Connected / Self Response Alarms, Digital Communicators (DigiCom), Digi-Air, Redcare or Redcare (Classic), then we recommend you start to investigate a Dual Path system before your local exchanges turn off date.

Do you want to discuss your property insurance with a qualified insurance broker? We’re ready and waiting to help FSB members big or small with quality professional advice 9am - 5pm every weekday just call 0203 3883 7976 today or book a call-back using the form below.