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is alarm co liable for not insisting on proper system / comment on burglar alarm attracts police attention
March 5, 2019
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is alarm co liable for not insisting on proper system
    A few years ago I was "employed" by an Insurance company through an Investigative agency to look at a commercial installation in a Jewelry store. The jewelry store was in a strip mall with stores on either side with only sheet rock walls between the neighboring stores. The Jewelry store was owned and operated by a gentleman that spoke almost no English.
    The alarm company installed an "out of the box" (2 door, one motion, one keypad system) with the main control installed on an interior wall in the rear on the store. The motion detector was installed in the retail area.
    The burglars entered through the common rear wall by breaking into the unoccupied adjacent store. They opened the thin metal box containing the main control and destroyed it and the wring inside, rendering the alarm useless. They then erected welding cloth around the safe in front and used a torch to enter the side of the safe and remove all the contents. According to the paperwork, approx 1.2 million in retail value.
    Now to the questions. 
  Does an alarm company have the legal obligation to install a better system in such high(er) risk environments and situation?
  Or does the onus revert to the store owners insurance company for not demanding that a UL listed system be in place prior to insurance coverage? 
    This incident, or one with very similar facts, is well known to me. It's also not too dissimilar to the jewelry store owner who installed an alarm and after he was robbed let everyone know that he didn't have insurance because he figured he had an alarm; but that's another story.
    What legal obligation an alarm company has to install a "better" system is not as easy to answer as you may think. At first blush the answer is, the alarm company owes no obligation to install anything more than the customer wants to pay for. That however, doesn't really reach the crux of the issue. More facts are required, such as has the alarm company been brought in as a security consultant to provide the specifications of a "better" system, or did the customer call on a "free installation if you allow us to monitor for 36 or 60 months", or did the customer want "best system money can buy as long as it doesn't cost more than $300 and $20 bucks a month to monitor"? 
    I'd rather answer this way. In most states you're licensed. Most of you have websites and promotional material touting the benefits of your security or fire systems and services. I think it's wise to offer the "better" system. And, that's exactly what the Standard Form Agreement does. The Al in one agreements all state that more and better equipment and services were offered and are available, and that the customer has declined the "better" system and services. 
    Because this is such an important issue I do not recommend that the alarm company rely solely on the contract, even an All in One. I strongly recommend using the Disclaimer Notice with the All in One Agreements. The Disclaimer Notice is an acknowledgment from the subscriber that "better" equipment and services are available and declined. It also should be used when a subscriber does not permit installation of equipment or accept services that the alarm company believes would be customary under the circumstances. In the above case the alarm professional may have suggested motion or wall vibrator detectors; perhaps a separate alarm for the safe.
    If you use the All in One backed up by the Disclaimer Notice you have clearly shifted the onus of responsibility for installing a sufficient alarm system on the owner. It's not the insurance company's responsibility to insist on any particular system, though that would be smart on their part, and they often do insist.
comment on burglar alarm attracts police attention from February 6, 2019 article
  1. Thank you for defining "burger"; and
  2. making me realize I'm at an age where I may be completely "down with it" anymore.
    Which leads to a point. I'm going to take a stab that the average age on this group is, um, "elevated." It takes some work to be engaged with our younger consumers. We will need to treat DIY and self-monitoring as opportunities to excel with this up-and-coming demographic.
Bob Long
    Bob, your not a burger. And yes, you and everyone else needs to give DIY a close look because it could very well be the future of a large chunk of the alarm industry soon.
    "According to www.urban, the term “burger” is slang for someone “who royally sucks at simple tasks.”


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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
516 747 6700