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Security of Being Home, Live and Play

November 7, 2009

A conversation with Rebecca Woan

Principal | Chartwell Insurance Services

There are many qualities that define the idea of home.It is more than shelter; it is a familiar retreat that makes its owner feel safe and secure. This feeling can also come from taking the appropriate precautions to protect yourself, yourfamily, and ourproperty.Insurance expertRebecca Woan works with insurance companies like Chubb to evaluate and make recommendations regarding security and fire safety for each of the her client’s homes. We asked her about strategies to make your home feel a safe place to be.

Live & Play: Give us your thoughts on security concerns

Rebecca Korach Woan: As we see it, there are two distinct elements of security: security at home and lifestyle security. It is not just about installing the best alarm system – it is about making sure that the alarm system fits the lifestyle. There are so many new and affordable technologies that most people don’t realize that they can have a fairly sophisticated system for a lot less than they might imagine.

L&P: What are some of these new technologies?
RKW:Perimeter security is one. This is a key element in home defense. As a property owner, you want to know there is an intruder before they reach your door. You can wire around the property to be alerted before someone reaches the home, and the systems can distinguish between animals and people. There are also video monitors, which are triggered if someone enters the side of the home, or in front of the garage in the alley. Some systems allow you to remotely provide entry to someone and watch while they are making a delivery, for example, to be sure they don’t go any further into your property than you want.

Having sophisticated technology is useless if you neglect the most basic elements of home security, such as keeping side gates, windows, and garages locked, and also making sure that no one leaves ladders lying around, inviting criminals to enter. Also, newspapers lying on the front stoop for more than a day announce to anyone who walks by that you aren’t home.

L&P: Tell us more about lifestyle security
RKW: This starts with your home telephone and computer network. You should have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a firewall to prevent hackers that can attack cordless phones as well as computers. You should use a cross-cut paper shredder for sensitive documents. We highly recommend thorough background checks for household employees and also for anyone who will have regular access to the home, like contractors. Ask for references and check them personally. These are really basic things that many people overlook. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we see household employees opening the door for anyone who rings the bell. An unexpected caller knocks on your door for one reason — to get something from you.

L&P: What is your favorite part of your job?
RKW: I really enjoy being able to help our clients and anticipate their needs. Whether it’s recommending the right security system for their new home or referring them to an appraiser for a piece of art they want insured, I’ve seen it all, and I love being able to pass my experience on to the people who come in to my office.

At the same time, getting to know my clients personally is also important to me. I’ve had one client e-mail to ask me to follow their progress in the Mackinac sailing race, and I’ve had another request that I keep her engagement a secret (after insuring her ring) while she made her preparations forthe announcement.Getting acquaintedwiththe ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/LAWRENCE SAWYER people I’m helping is always something I value. L& P