By Crawford Frazer
You may already know that extra security measures like burglar alarms and dead-bolt locks can lead to home insurance discounts. In Texas, some cities have an additional safety protocols that can produce cheaper rates: a home safety inspection performed by a law enforcement official. Passing that inspection could get you a home insurance premium discount -- and, better yet, the inspection might not cost a thing.
How do I qualify?
Although the state once passed a law that required Texas home insurance companies to offer a discount for homeowners who passed the inspection, that law was repealed in 2003, according to the Arlington, Texas, Police Department. However, many insurers still offer the discount, and many municipalities still offer the inspections. This is what you should do:
- Ask your home insurance provider. Find out whether your company is willing to offer a premium discount, and if so, how much.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency. You'll want to ensure that a state-certified inspector is available. Some Texas cities, like Arlington and Dickinson, offer safety inspections for free, so you can make your home safer, even if it's not directly related to an insurance discount.
- Remember to renew. Arlington's safety inspection certification lasts three years, at which time you can renew (for free) for another three years. After the renewal period, you'll likely need another inspection.
What are the requirements?
The Texas Department of Insurance's home safety inspection checklist shows some things that a law enforcement official performing the inspection might look for:
- Exterior doors must be solid-core doors that are 1 3/8 inches thick and secured by dead-bolt locks.
- Dead-bolt locks must have a bolt that extends at least 1 inch from the edge of the door and that penetrates a metal strike plate.
- If the door secured by the dead-bolt lock has breakable glass within 40 inches of the lock, the lock must be key-operated from both sides unless prohibited by fire safety codes.
- Sliding glass doors must be secured by secondary locking devices to prevent them from being pried open.
- Dutch doors must have concealed flush-bolt locking devices to bring together the upper and lower halves. They also must be secured by dead-bolt locks.
- Garage doors must be equipped with key-operated locking devices.
- Windows must be secured by supplemental locking devices, such as wooden dowels, pinning devices and key-operated locks. Metal bars or grating can be used if they don't violate fire codes.
- Jalousie or louvered windows (windows with moveable slats of wood or glass to allow ventilation) must have metal grating.
Clearly, there are costs involved if your home does not already meet these specifications. But if you can qualify for a home insurance discount, and the inspection is free, a little investment in home security could go a long way.