Car Alarm FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions (UK Information)

What are the differences between a Cat1 and a Cat2 car alarm?
I need a certificate of installation for my insurance company what do they mean?
What does it mean when you say car alarms are Thatcham Approved?
Do I need remote central locking for my car alarm to be fitted?
What is a car alarm proximity sensor?
What is a car alarm turbo timer?
What is a car alarm tilt sensor?
What is a car alarm with engine remote start?
I have a VSIB Certificate with a printed stamp will my insurance company accept it?

What are the differences between a Cat 1 and a Cat 2 car alarm?

Most Insurance Companies will specify that your car should either have a Cat 1 or Cat 2 for the policy to insure against theft. A Category 2 (Cat 2) specifies a car immobiliser and a Category 1 (Cat 1) means a car alarm with incorporated immobiliser. These classification are set by ‘Thatcham’ which is a company that tests car alarms & immobilisers to determine that they reach a certain standard, they then award the systems a Cat 1 or Cat 2 status.  

View Cat 1 Car Alarm products.
View Cat 2 Car Immobiliser products.

I need a certificate of installation for my insurance company what do they mean?

Your security device must on a list available from Thatcham but your device must also be installed by an accredited installer to ensure installation standards are also met. Until April 2009 this meant obtaining a VSIB (Vehicle Systems Installation Board) certificate, by using a VSIB accredited installer to fit your security device. But unfortunately in April 2009, the VSIB suddenly went bust and disappeared leaving accredited installers, insurance companies and car owners in limbo.

Most Installers then became MESF (Mobile Electronics & Security Federation) accredited or affiliated; a similar organisation to VSIB, which verifies it members and provides training schemes for installers. They also provide similar certificates and embossed stamps used by installers (when clamped on the paper they leave a raised impression through all copies) which shows individual installers unique accreditation number or details.

However Thatcham have now shown an interest in filling the gap left by VSIB. They are inviting all previous VSIB installers to join their new for 2009/2010 Thatcham Recognised Installer scheme. This new scheme is due to be launched July 12th 2010 and will be great for customers, insurance companies and Installers. Thatcham have close links with car insurance companies in the UK and will make available a database of information for aftermarket installed security systems, allowing data to be entered and retrieved directly online. This will eliminate forged documents and make it easier for insurance companies to quiz a Thatcham database for individual car details, providing a more efficient system.

We at Dragon Car Audio & Security are part of the Thatcham Recognised Installer scheme, and are also part of the MESF Mobile Electronics & Security Federation specialist scheme.

What does it mean when you say car alarms are Thatcham Approved?

Thatcham is a company that provides data assessment services to the Motor Industry and Insurance Companies. They provide vigorous testing of car security systems that are submitted for approval, and once a system has passed they award it a Category 1 or Category 2 status. This information is then made available to insurance companies.  

Do I need remote central locking for my car alarm to be fitted?

If your car has central locking then the new alarm will be able to tag off this circuit to give remote central locking through the alarm (doors lock and unlock by pressing the button on the new alarm key fob). If your car doesn’t have central locking then in most cases door motors can be fitted, but this will cost more as extra modules are used and the alarm fitting will take longer.  

What is a car alarm proximity sensor?

Proximity sensors come in two types:

Single Zone – Creates an interior bubble that will sound the alarm if interfered with, ideal for convertible cars as you can arm the alarm with the roof down,

Dual Zone – Includes Single Zone but also creates an external bubble that will give a warning sound if someone comes into close contact with the vehicle - creates a deterrent for people looking through the car windows.  

What is a car alarm turbo timer?

Some diesel or high performance cars are fitted with a turbo to give the engine extra power while driving. To enable the turbo to live to its full expected lifetime you should allow it to ‘wind-down’ after each journey (this just means allowing the engine to remain on for a few minutes after coming to a complete stop). By fitting a turbo timer you allow the alarm to take over this chore for you. Simply press a button on the remote and then take the key out of the ignition, the engine will still be running but will automatically switch itself off after a set time.

What is a car alarm tilt sensor?

This feature will make the alarm sound if the car is jacked up or lifted. Unfortunately it is becoming more common for thieves to steal a car on a low loader instead of trying to break into the car cabin and drive away. A tilt sensor will make the alarm go off if the car is moved of jogged, and you can also help protect expensive wheels being stolen from a car with this device.  

What is a car alarm with engine remote start?

An alarm fitted with remote start will allow you to start the engine by pressing a button on the remote key fob without being inside the car. This is useful for performance cars and cold mornings as you can warm up the engine before you are ready to drive off. Generally this device will invalidate a Cat1 status as the system may not be approved by Thatcham. As a safety precaution a car alarm with this feature should always be set up so that if you press the foot brake the engine will switch off immediately.  

View Remote Start Car Alarm product.

I have a VSIB Certificate with a printed stamp will my insurance company accept it?

Both VSIB and MESF installers are provided with embossed stamps (when clamped on the paper they leave a raised impression through all copies) which shows individual installers unique accreditation number or details. Without this mark the certificate is VOID. Many non-accredited installers get a printed stamp made up and stamp the customer copy with this.

Your insurance company may accept this printed stamp copy, however you will have to hope that you never need to make a claim, as a Loss Adjuster will know the certificate is void.

These paper certificates will become a thing of the past with the Thatcham Recognised Installer scheme due for release July 12th 2010. The new online system will eliminate forgeries and allow insurance companies to look up individual car security details directly from a Thatcham database.

 


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