Alarm Basics


Alarm Basics

A store's burglar alarm is the heart of the security system

By David Sexton, CPCU
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co.

When did you last review the UL certificate for your burglar alarm system? Never? Then drop everything and do it now. You should know what you're paying for.

If your alarm system is certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) – a national testing facility for devices, systems and materials – the UL certificate verifies it meets UL requirements, was installed and is monitored by a qualified alarm service company, and is under a maintenance/service contract.

In 1996, UL revised its graded certificate for burglar alarm systems and started to phase in a modular certificate. In the former graded certificate program, many people considered the "AA/AA Complete" designation the ultimate in security, so many businesses requested this level of service whether or not they needed it, but alarm firms often couldn't meet all the requirements. The new system, to be phased in by 2001, permits more flexibility, with options better reflecting customer needs and central station capabilities.

If you have a graded certificate (grades such as A, AA, B, etc., and a copyright in the 1980s) file this series of articles with your certificate. When your new modular certificate arrives, review the certificate and the articles.

Reading UL Certificates
Your new certificate has two pages. Verify the information on the first page. Your premises is listed at the bottom along with the name and address of the alarm company. Above that is the alarm system description, which lists the areas being protected, typically your premises, safe or vault, and stockroom and possibly an office, records room or workshop.

The second page is a burglar alarm system description with:

  1. Your address.
  2. The alarm company's name and address.
  3. System description.
  4. Alarm transmission method (how your system transmits an alarm).
  5. Area covered by your alarm.
  6. Type of alarm sound-ing device.
  7. Remote monitoring of the alarm.
  8. Type of alarm line security.
  9. Alarm investigator response (if central station).

Beyond the store and alarm company's names and addresses, most other factors describing an alarm system may sound like Greek to most retail jewelers. Next month, we'll translate.

  It's Alarming

Your alarm system can prevent losses and keep down insurance costs. The more losses you prevent, the more affordable and available insurance will be for everyone.

When you renew your jewelers block policy, an underwriter evaluates your exposure (inventory value, loss experience, location) and security program, which should include:

  • Physical protection (safes, locks, security glass).
  • Electronic protection (surveillance cameras, alarms, door buzzers).
  • Procedures (show one item at a time, keep showcases locked, open with two or more employees, etc.).

For your security program to be effective, you must maintain all three components. For example, a jeweler who buys state-of-the-art electronic security but neglects proper procedures by leaving merchandise in unprotected windows when closed becomes an easy target for burglars.


David Sexton leads the large accounts underwriting department at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., Neenah, WI. He also is a corporate member of UL's Burglary Protection Council and the Central Station Alarm Association.


Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


HomeAsk the ExpertBrainstormStatsSite of the WeekConsumer Press Scan
Your Business On-LineCalendarMagazine & Site ArchivesStaffSite Map
Professional Jeweler EventsGuide to Electronic Services
Classified On-LineJA Certification Study Session

Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map