Just Upgraded Your Locks? Insurance May Reimburse You
I love hearing positive stories from locksmith clients. One of the most recent came from a single mom living who had gotten locked out of her home. The locksmith was able to come quickly and open up the lock so she could get inside. But the reason that the woman was thrilled wasn’t just because of the fast, efficient service she got. Her joy was because the locksmith gave her some advice: upgrade your lock and you could get a big discount on your insurance premiums.
Insurance premiums can take a huge toll on your monthly budget. Luckily, the insurance companies do reward policyholders for making responsible decisions. Often, insurers will give you a discount on your premiums just for having a secure locking system such as a deadbolt for a home.
The locks that you buy at a standard hardware store will have a grading system on them. These grades have been established by the American National Standards Institute and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association. You will see your options listed as Grade 1, 2 or 3 with Grade 1 offering the highest security. It is often hard for homeowners to understand the differences between these locks. A locksmith can help you choose the best lock for your security needs – and which will get you that insurance premium discount.
All insurance companies have different policies about discounts for lock systems. You should call your insurance provider and ask whether you can qualify for a discount by putting in a high-security lock. In many cases, you may have to have the locking system installed by one of their recommended locksmiths. Even if you want to do the work yourself, you may still need to have it evaluated by their locksmith. The cost of installation and locksmithing will fall on you. However, it is usually only about $100 for a complete installation (including the cost of the lock and locksmith work). While this may be pricy for some, the long-term savings from insurance discounts can be massive.
In some cases, you may also be eligible for discounts on your car insurance too by installing special locking systems. Do note that car locksmiths tend to be much pricier. However, these locksmiths know firsthand how easy it is to steal a car, which is why the insurers are willing to give you a discount if you upgrade your locks.
Your Locksmith Questions Answered
Q. What is rekeying?
A. Rekeying refers to “repining” and is a service which allows you to change the key of a lock without actually changing the lock. The way it works is that a skilled locksmith will rearrange the tumblers in a locking system so that they only work for a new key. Rekeying is very useful in some situations. For example, if you want to have all of the locks in a building open with the same key, you could have the locks rekeyed. Rekeying is also more cost efficient when there are many locks that would have to be changed.
Rekeying can also refer to a different locksmithing service in which a key is made for a lock, such as if you lost all keys for a lock.
Q. Can I have a new ignition key made?
A. In many new cars, door and ignition keys are being made with advanced security features including transponder chips. These transponders communicate with the locking system so only certain keys can unlock them. This helps prevent and deter theft. Before 2008, most people had to go to their dealership to get a new ignition key. Now, many car locksmiths are able to access to transponder codes and make a new ignition key for clients. It usually costs less to have an ignition key made at a private locksmith than at the dealership.
Q. How much does a locksmith cost?
A. The price you will pay for locksmithing services varies greatly. For car or home lockouts, you can usually expect to pay about $50. For complex jobs, you can expect an hourly rate of about $60. Rekeying will generally cost you about $10-$20 in shop and go by the hourly rate on site. These are just generalized prices; you can expect to pay more in cities with high living standards (such as NYC compared to Dayton, Ohio). Also some locksmiths will charge extra for coming during off hours and also may charge a transportation cost per mile.
Q. What certification do locksmiths need?
A. Only nine states require locksmiths to be licensed in order to work (Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas). Other than these nine states, the laws about locksmith standards are very irregular. In some places, there is absolutely no certification required to work as a locksmith. Always make sure to ask your locksmith what certification he/she has and also about his/her specialty.
Q. What does bonded and insured mean for a locksmith?
A. Locksmiths have serious jobs; their work can mean the difference as to whether an intruder gets into your home or business. To protect themselves and their clients, many locksmiths get insurance. Under the insurance, the insurer will cover costs of losses that occur due to faulty work. Insurance for locksmiths is very pricy. If you find a locksmith which is insured, you can count on him to deliver quality work and be committed to safety standards.
Bonded is similar to being insured, but with much less coverage. A bonded locksmith will buy a bond from a bonding company. If losses occur because of a mistake or other liability on the part of the locksmith, the bonding company will pay for the losses.
If you have time to pick a locksmith (as opposed to picking the first locksmith you find because you are in an emergency situation), then you should always make sure to ask about the locksmith’s certifications. Most states don’t require locksmiths to have any sort of certification. However, many locksmiths will still get certified in order to stay competitive in their trades.
There are a lot of different certifications available – including some which can be ordered online without any real training or experience. These certifications are basically useless and will not indicate that your locksmith performs quality work. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) has designated certain certifications for locksmiths. Here is an overview of these certifications:
- Registered Locksmith (RL): Locksmiths with this title have completed at least 12 classes of 8 hours each or a 5-6 day course with an exam at the final.
- Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL): This is the first level of locksmithing certification. Locksmiths with this certification must have passed at least 10 categories of locksmithing in addition to 2 specialties.
- Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL): This is the second level of locksmithing certification. They have achieved the level of CRL as well as 12 specialty electives of their choice.
- Certified Master Locksmith (CML): This is the highest level of certification that a locksmith can achieve. These locksmiths have achieved the level of CPL plus shown themselves skilled in at least 90% of the available specialty categories.
- Certified Automotive Locksmith: These locksmiths have a good knowledge of all general aspects of car locks.
Mandatory Requirements for Locksmith Certification
Locksmiths receive certification after passing a written exam. There are currently 36 different categories on the exams but only 10 of them are required for the most basic certification. These 10 required categories include: codes and code equipment, cylinder servicing, key blank identification, key duplication, key impressioning, professional lock opening techniques, lockset functions, lockset servicing, basic master keying, and cabinet-furniture-mailbox locks.The other categories are specialties in locksmithing such as foreign and domestic cars, safes, and installation practices.
Note: there are also other certifications specifically for safes. The standards for these certifications are set by the Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA). These certifications include Certified Professional Safe Technician (CPST) and Certified Master Safe Technician (CMST).
If you need a locksmith for a common purpose, such as helping you when you get locked out of your house or rekeying a lock, then the most basic locksmith certification will generally suffice. If you are dealing with a high security lock or new car locks, then you may need a master locksmith which specializes in your purpose.
Regardless of why you need a locksmith, it is important that you ask what certification he/she has and where the certification is from. You shouldn’t trust your locks with just anyone! By choosing a certified locksmith in your local area, you can trust that the job will be done correctly and you are getting an expert tradesman dedicated to the job.