If you're like most business owners, you've invested a considerable amount of your time, money and effort into your commercial property and all that it contains. Whether that means manufacturing or hospitality equipment, stock and inventory, or even computers and servers storing valuable intellectual information or sensitive data, it's crucially important to the success of your business that it is adequately protected.
There are multiple ways to protect your business, and while an alarm system may not be the only method out there, it's a big one that needs to be carefully considered. It's not just a matter of whether you should have an alarm system for your business (you should!)—it's also a matter of what type or types you should have. There are many options out there, and the best way to figure out a solid security plan for your commercial property is to consider the benefits to your particular business so you can narrow down what's most important for your commercial security.
Let's talk about the different varieties of commercial alarm systems available for your business. Remember that just one type isn't necessarily going to be sufficient to protect your business—you may need more than one type of system,. The best type or types will depend on factors such as what you are protecting, who (or what) you are protecting it from, the configuration and location of your business property, and so on.
There are different categories of alarm system types to consider as well. Most people break them down into broad categories based on how the alarm communicates that there has been a breach, but within each category, there are also distinctions in how the alarm systems detect a breach. Consider the pros and cons of these basic types of business alarm systems.
A wired alarm system has all its components hard-wired to a landline telephone. As a result, the connection is stable, and a reliable internet connection is not necessary. On the other hand, they will not function if the electricity is out in your building, and severing wires can disable them. They also have a higher upfront cost for installation.
A wireless system sends alarm signals via Wi-Fi, so if a sensor is tripped, it uses radio frequency to communicate the problem to the control panel. You can connect to the system remotely to monitor it from afar. It's less costly to install because there are no wires. However, a strong internet connection is an absolute must-have, and there needs to be a relatively short distance between sensors and the control panel, so they may not work well for extensive properties.
An unmonitored alarm signals that it has detected a breach by sounding an audible (or sometimes visual) alarm, which could include buzzing, beeping, strobing lights, voice alerts and more. This works best for properties that either operate 24 hours per day and therefore always have employees on-site or businesses that employ security guards at night who will be available to respond to the alarm because, otherwise, you're relying on passersby to call the police and that usually doesn't happen right away unless the alarm is disturbing the peace.
Monitored alarm systems may also issue audio or visual cues that an alarm has been tripped, but more importantly, they send a signal to a remote security monitoring centre. The monitoring centre will then call you and/or your employees to inform you that an alarm has been tripped and can also contact first responders such as police, firefighters or medical personnel. Monitored systems are generally more costly as you have to pay a monthly monitoring fee for a professional monitoring plan, but they are more likely to protect your commercial property successfully.
Next, it pays to take some time to think about the benefits of a business alarm system. Some of these benefits may not apply to your business, but identifying the most important and relevant ones will help you determine which types of alarm systems are best suited to protect your commercial property and assets.
This is a key reason why business owners invest in an alarm system, and it makes a lot of sense. As we all know, there are people out there who will take any opportunity they can to steal or vandalize. Commercial properties are typically a lot more vulnerable than residential properties because criminals are well aware that businesses are usually empty of people all night long and, therefore, easy targets. A monitored alarm system can help you avoid vandalism or theft loss by immediately alerting the authorities to the presence of intruders.
Alarm systems aren't just there to deter or catch human intruders. Damage from fire and water are two of the biggest threats any commercial business faces. As careful as you may be, some situations simply can't be avoided—but with the right alarm system, the fire or water incursion can be halted before it can destroy absolutely everything. Fire alarms are required in many buildings, and you may already have one in place. Still, it's a good idea to consider a water incursion alarm as well, mainly if your business is located in an area that is prone to flooding or you have other reasons to suspect your building is vulnerable to water damage.
The most important and valuable asset at your business is your employees, so it's crucial that they are protected and that they can go about their work feeling safe and secure. That's especially true if they work with or around valuable items or work late at night with a reduced staff. An alarm system for your business, whether it's monitored or unmonitored, can give them an added sense of security so they can rest assured that they'll be alerted immediately if anyone tries to enter the property who isn't supposed to be there.
You obviously don't want thieves and vandals to have access to your commercial property. Still, you may also need to restrict access to certain areas of the building or certain items for people you trust, like your employees. Suppose you have dangerous equipment that needs to be operated by experienced, certified individuals only. In that case, it may make sense to have that equipment guarded by an alarm system to avoid having employees or customers wander into the wrong area when the designated equipment operator is not working. Or, you may have servers with sensitive information that could do a lot of damage if it fell into the wrong hands, and there's no point in risking that happening accidentally or maliciously. It's possible to alarm certain areas of your business at certain times, even if the rest of the building's alarm system is inactive.
In all likelihood, you have some form of commercial property insurance in place to get insurance compensation to deal with financial losses following a theft or fire, among other possible destruction. If something happens that you are insured for, you'll naturally file an insurance claim—that's what it's there for, after all. But the better scenario is to prevent it from happening in the first place with a robust alarm system for your business, so there's no need to file a claim. That keeps your insurance premiums low and lets you avoid much stress and hassle while recovering after a catastrophic event at your business property. In some cases, you may be able to get lower premiums by having an alarm system installed. If you'd like to know more about your business insurance related to your commercial alarm system, call your friendly broker at Morison Insurance.
Your customers and/or clients may entrust you with sensitive information like their payment data or even their identity documents, or they may entrust you with their valuable property such as vehicles or jewelry, and they need to know it's being held safely and securely. An alarm system helps to reassure them that's the case. Or, you may have customers who want to feel secure just coming into your business to shop, dine or avail themselves of the services you offer, and an alarm system can go a long way toward convincing them that you, as a business owner, take security and safety seriously.
Suppose you have a monitored alarm system for your business. In that case, the monitoring centre will alert the police or other first responders, such as firefighters, that something isn't right, prompting them to send help immediately. With an unmonitored system, the alarm can ring and ring and ring some more before anyone thinks to alert the authorities, giving trespassers plenty of time to get away and fires plenty of time to spread from room to room. The ability to get a fast emergency response from police and firefighters is one of the biggest reasons why business owners often choose a monitored system because the presence of authorities goes a long way toward preventing or limiting severe property loss.
As a business owner, you spend a significant portion of your life at your commercial property, working hard to please your customers, manage your employees and expand the success of your business. That being said, you still have to live your life, and you can't possibly be there every minute of every day. If you have a wireless alarm system for your business, one of the key benefits is that you can log in to it remotely and monitor what's going on at your commercial property even when you're not there. That gives you the ability to get out of the business now and then—maybe even enjoy some free time—without being completely disconnected from it, and it means you'll be the first to know if an emergency does occur and your system sends out an alarm signal.
Depending on the type of business you own and your industry, you may be subject to certain rules and regulations that state you must have alarm systems in place. It's pretty common for commercial buildings to have a fire alarm system. Still, some industries that are known for handling sensitive information such as medical records or financial details must also have alarm systems in place to deter would-be intruders. You may also belong to a professional association that dictates having certain types of alarm systems is necessary. These rules and regulations are in place for a reason, so it's clearly a benefit to your business to comply with them and avoid fines or other penalties. Additionally, note that you will likely not be able to insure a business that is not in compliance with applicable regulations, leaving you vulnerable to paying out of pocket in the event that you experience financial loss.
You've worked very hard and invested a lot into your business to get it where it is today, and it would be heartbreaking to see that all go to waste due to someone's malicious actions or accidental destruction from something like a fire. But you also don't want to spend every waking moment worrying about what might happen. Investing in an alarm system for your business gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing there's an added layer of protection between your commercial enterprise and a catastrophic or destructive event.
This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.