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Law enforcement officers and home security experts alike are quick to point out that there is a residential break-in every 90 seconds in Canada. For good measure, they will likely add that 80% of the time the break-in occurs in daylight hours.

Many of those alarmed by the statistics look to purchase a top notch home security system. New surveillance cameras equipped with special lenses and wireless security systems have proven to be popular choices. Also, biometric readers and video intercom units that take a snapshot of all your guests and allow access to devices including tablets or mobile phones are being used more and more. These systems often cost thousands of dollars.

For those wanting the peace-of-mind that a secure home affords and the benefit of saving on their homeowner's insurance, they should consider installing a centralized alarm system. These are security systems that send an alert to an external monitoring company, who receive the warning message and verifies the alarm, generally by placing a call to the homeowner’s mobile phone. If they do not receive the proper passcode or do not receive an answer, the company calls the police.

Most major insurance firms in Canada will offer significant discounts for homes that are electronically guarded against theft, vandalism and fire, as it reduces the risk of robbery or property damage. For example, the Co-operators will provide a 10% discount (or more) for homeowners who install monitored alarm systems and Allstate customers are eligible for a 25% reduction on their home insurance premiums if they sign up for Rogers Smart Home Monitoring.

As always it pays to do your research before getting a security alarm system. Get quotes from at least three different companies. Make sure the alarm company you choose is certified by Underwriters Laboratory of Canada (ULC) or Canadian Standards Authority (CSA) and that their employees are professionally trained or certified. It may prove helpful to ask your local police force how long it takes to respond to a home security alarm after being contacted by the security firm and if there is a charge or fine for a false alarm. Also, find out if there are any hidden fees for monthly alarm reports or if it's easy to break a contract should you decide to move or sign on with another provider.

Before making a final decision make sure your security firm's service meets the discount requirements from your insurance company. And it's important to assess whether the expense of the service is worth the amount of the discount. You shouldn't have to spend thousands of dollars yearly just to receive a small, single-digit percentage discount.

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