Responding to a RTI query, the RBI and some PSU banks said that the relationship between a bank and a customer with regards to lockers was that of a landlord and tenant. The tenant (that’s you, the customer) was responsible for the valuables kept in the locker owned by the bank.
If banks are not ready to take responsibility for the safety of the contents, is it worthwhile to hire a locker at all? Why shell out Rs 1,000-8,000 a year for a service that does not assure you complete safety? Won’t it be better to keep your valuables in a secure safe at home. Experts don’t think so.
Locker a better option
Pulkit Punj, Director at security solutions firm AnG India says, “Opting for home safes would not be a wise option for people who have a lot of valuables to keep.” Despite the warnings about risks, banks always take necessary action to safeguard your valuables. Sanjay Rajawat, Head, Liabilities Business, AU Small Finance Bank, explains, “The secure infrastructure at the bank’s strong-room, restricted and monitored entry and exit, presence of security guard(s), along with a high-level of electronic surveillance give an edge to the safety provided by bank lockers over home safes.”
How safe is your bank
Customers have the right to ask their bank about the security infrastructure it has in place to protect valuables. Mehernosh Pithawalla, Associate Vice-President and Global Head, Marketing, Sales & Innovation at Godrej Security Solutions Division says, “Find out when was the last time they updated the security infrastructure to deter, detect and defer any untoward incident.” If the bank does not give a satisfactory reply or offers insufficient information the customer should consider moving out.
Safe at home
A wide range of home safes are available in the market, ranging from the very ordinary mechanical safe to the high end gadgets that send SMS alerts to the owner if they are opened. But be sure about the quality of the safe you are buying. “Buy a home safe with an appropriate label or certification which assures good quality,” says Som Gangopadhyay, Deputy MD, Sales and Marketing, of bank locker manufacturer Gunnebo India.
But the expenses do not stop there. You may need to incur additional expenses on installing a CCTV camera and burglar alarms to secure your. “A simple security solution starts at Rs 10,000 and could go up to lakhs with layers of security protection added,” says Punj.
Apart from securing your valuables, you also must get them insured against theft and damage. General insurance companies insure jewellery as part of the comprehensive home insurance cover. But this comes with strings attached. Cash is not insured and jewellery has to be valued. R. Suresh Nair, Head, Product Development, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance advises, “Have jewellery and valuables insured irrespective of whether they are in home safes or bank lockers.” The customer needs to declare the list of jewellery/valuables along with the valuation report of the same.
M. Ravichandran, President, TATA-AIG General Insurance says, “Only if the declared jewellery is worth Rs 10 lakh and above is a valuation required.” This report is prepared by a government-certified valuer, and describes every item of jewellery. The additional cost of premium will be 1-1.5% of the cost of jewellery declared in a home insurance policy.
The other options
If you feel your bank is not secure enough and the home safe option is also not feasible, you can consider going for private locker services. Rentals vary between Rs 4,500 and Rs 30,000 per annum depending on the size. Private lockers are easy to access since they are open seven days a week.
HOW MUCH DO PSU BANKS CHARGE FOR LOCKERS
Small : Rs 1,100
Medium : Rs 2,800
Large : Rs 6,000
Extra large : Rs 8,000
Above charges are for lockers at SBI. Private banks charge more.
CHEAPER BUT NOT SAFER
Home safes are not as secure as bank lockers
Mechanical lock : Rs 5,500 (14 litres)
These lockers are operated with keys that have complex designs and are hard to replicate. Prices vary according to size.
Keypad system : Rs 7,000 (8.7 litres)
These lockers come with electronic keypads. You need to save a four digit passcode. These lockers have an override option which allows you to set new passcodes.
Swipe card : Rs 15,000 (35 litres)
These lockers come with a swipe card, which acts like an electronic key. To access the locker, you need to swipe the card just like you swipe a credit/debit card.
Biometric lockers : Rs 9,000 (8.5 litre)
These lockers recognize fingerprint impression. To access, you need to touch the fingerprint reader. You can register up to 30 fingerprints