Risk Insights: General Best Practices for Locksmiths

Locksmiths have a duty to their communities to ensure that each lock is safe and secure. For that reason, it is important that you adhere to the practices laid out by the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA). One of the most important tenets of the MLA Handbook is ensuring that you are ‘properly insured to carry out security installations on, or to, a customer’s premises’. Your knowledgeable Business Insurance Service broker can help ensure you have adequate, robust cover. While you should still review the handbook, the following guidance offers an overview of best practices.

Cutting Vehicle Keys

The MLA Handbook contains a voluntary code of practice for cutting vehicle keys, urging locksmiths to require customers to fill in a form to prove their identity when requesting vehicle keys. That way, locksmiths have written proof that they followed due diligence to ensure the customer was the vehicle’s rightful owner. The MLA Handbook also recommends asking the customer to fill in the appropriate form in order to prove their identity if:

  • The customer brings in a vehicle part—such as a door lock, petrol cap or ignition barrel—as a reference to what vehicle they need a key for
  • The customer offers a specific key number

This practice should be completed even if you recognise or know the customer in order to keep a record of the vehicle model(s) and the date(s) when he or she requested a new key to be cut.

Duplicating and Supplying Keys

There are three steps involved with duplicating and/or supplying customers with new safe keys, master keys and any restricted keys.

1. Before you cut a replacement key, the customer must complete the appropriate form. This could be the MLA’s ‘Authorisation for the Supply of Keys’ form, or a customer’s written authorisation containing the following information:

  • Owner’s name, address and phone number
  • Name and address of the locksmith requested to duplicate and/or supply the keys
  • Quantity and type of key(s) to be supplied
  • Markings (if any) to be put on such keys
  • The signature of the owner, or his or her representative, with the name also printed in capital letters and the signatory’s position with the organisation
  • Date of the order

This is to help ensure the customer’s authenticity.  If there is any doubt, it is your responsibility to verify their references. This should include contacting their organisation to confirm that it has requested duplicate keys to be cut. In addition, you must keep all authorisation forms and letters for at least two years. These records must be made available to these three organisations:

  • The MLA Council to ensure that its instructions are being upheld or to assist in an investigation
  • The key manufacturer
  • An officer of the Police Force, Military Police, Customs and Excise, Inland Revenue or any similar authority acting in the investigation of a crime

2. After verifying the authenticity of the customer, establish whether the key is protected by a patent. Remember that it is illegal to duplicate keys which are protected by a current patent, and you should never knowingly do so.

3. Ensure that any key that you duplicate is cut from a manufacturer’s original blank or a substitute blank from a reputable supplier. In addition, you must follow these guidelines for handling blanks:

  • Blanks must be categorised by whether they are for standard or restricted locks.
  • Restricted blanks cannot be altered to fit non-restricted locks and standard blanks cannot be altered to fit restricted locks.
  • Blanks for security keys cannot be disposed of or sold to a third party without the official authorisation of the original customer.

Opening and Gaining Entry

Before entering a building, vehicle or container, you must have proof of authority, which consists of an official order or letter of authority clearly stating:

  • The date
  • The address of the customer
  • Precise instructions for the required service
  • The name of the authorised site contact

In addition, the customer must also present information to verify his or her identity. Depending on whether the assignment is for a private dwelling or a vehicle, the customer will be required to provide different documentation.

1. Private dwellings: The customer must provide at least one of the following pieces of identification:

  • Driving licence showing address of premises
  • Passport
  • Neighbour identification
  • Police presence

2. Vehicles: The customer must provide at least one of the following pieces of identification:

  • Driving licence showing home address quoted
  • Passport
  • Vehicle registration documents
  • Police or road association presence

Locked or Unlocked, Efficiency is Key

As a locksmith, you must adhere to the industry guidelines provided by the MLA to ensure that your business is reputable, efficient and protected against potential risks.

For more information on how you can bolster your business, turn to the insurance professionals at Business Insurance Service today.

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For more information and for insurance solutions to protect your locksmith business, contact Business Insurance Service today.

Email us at hello@businessinsuranceservice.co.uk

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