Bank Lockers for Safe Deposit- What You Need to Know
August 14 , 2013

Bank lockers are considered safe for storing heritage jewelry, sale deeds, inheritance will and such valuables. This write up throws light on features, charges and other facts relating to bank safety locker.

Individuals, clubs, trusts and companies can hold a safe deposit locker with a bank. Not all branches would have lockers. They are allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis. Accordingly banks keep a wait-list of applicants.

Banks need to verify your risk profile before providing locker facility so you would be expected to have savings account with the bank. Bank lockers usually need to be hired for at least 1 year. They are available from small to large sizes.

You can hire a locker jointly or singly and have nomination facility.

Security features of bank locker

Banks have a locker room where the lockers are situated. Its entrance is guarded by iron grill gate. CCTV and such security arrangements would be in place.

Each locker has two keys, one with the locker holder and other remains with the bank. Both keys are needed to open the locker. The bank officer would accompany you to the locker room, use the key with them and leave you to open the locker with your key.

Bank lockers are safer than your home for safekeeping valuables but it must be remembered that even banks are susceptible to burglary. There have been instances in the past where bank lockers were looted. If loss of valuables in your lockers is due to reasons outside the bank's control, like burglary, natural calamity, fire then it is not liable for the loss.

Charges involved in bank locker

One time registration charge of about Rs 550 is to be paid. Annual service fee depends on locker size and can vary between approximately Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 in Public Sector banks. This is multiple times more in Private banks. Fee in non-urban areas is lower than in urban centres. In case you intend to hire the locker for less than a year, get clarity on whether refund of fee will be made on pro-rata basis. Certain banks do not refund charges.

If you lose your locker key bank can charge fee for making new one in addition to fee for breaking it open.

For visiting locker more than the number of free visits, a small fee can be recovered by bank on each such time.

Banks can ask for a Fixed Deposit to take care of 3 years' locker fee and charges to break open the locker in case of eventuality. Some banks do demand higher FD but it is illegal and can be challenged.

What to bear in mind while accessing you bank locker

Always ensure you are alone in the locker room while opening your locker. No one should know what you hold in the locker. Never keep any items out of the locker because if you forget to take them and someone else finds them, there would be no way to get them back. It is good to make a list of items in the locker, will be useful in case of any casualty.

How to choose your bank locker

It's about the security of your valuables so first and foremost visit the bank locker to ensure it satisfies some safety checks. Location of the branch should not be where it can get flooded easily or next to godowns which can catch fire. The locker should ideally not be in a totally isolated area or places attracting huge crowds.

In general if the bank's handling of lockers is too casual then it might not be your safest haven.

Alternatives for safekeeping your valuables

If you want to consider alternatives to bank locker, home insurance could be one option. Home insurance usually covers the house structure and select contents. They have sub limits on jewelry cover, usually at 25% of total sum insured or Rs 1.5 lacs whichever is higher. For a total sum insured of Rs 25 lacs, with sublimit of Rs 1 lac premium works out close to Rs 15,000.

Not a good alternative to bank locker due to high charges, heavy paper work and procedures involved.

Jewelry insurance is perhaps a better option, only for jewelry though. Presently it is only provided by Axis Bank. All jewelry at home or in bank locker can be covered under their scheme. This jewelry insurance covers against risk of loss by fire or burglary while the jewelry is at home, bank locker, worn by the policyholder or while being carried to the locker.

Premium for jewelry and valuables insurance by Axis Bank is between Rs 2,500 and Rs 10,000 for sum insured varying between Rs 2 lacs and Rs 10 lacs. Jewelry valuation has to be submitted, though procedures and formalities are not as demanding as in home insurance.

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