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Why You Need Insurance Approved Padlocks


There can’t be many households in the UK that aren’t using one or more padlocks. We use them to secure lockers, gates, sheds, garages, outhouses and a whole lot more. But there is enormous variation in the quality, durability and robustness of padlocks on the market today so here we examine insurance approved and CEN rated padlocks.&

Padlock Security Ratings

Secure padlocks will have undergone type testing to ensure conformity with the requirements of: BS EN 12320: 2012 Building hardware. Padlocks and padlock fittings. Requirements and test methods. This is the British Standard specification for padlocks and padlock fittings. 

Padlocks and fittings are classified using a 7 digit coding system wherein the last two digits indicate weather or corrosion resistance and the final digit indicates the security rating. A weather resistance indication of ‘1’ means that the padlock or fitting is suitable for internal use and a number ‘3’ designated exterior suitability. 

Padlock security ratings extend from ‘1’ for the lowest level of security, up to ‘6’ for the highest. BS12320 padlock security grades directly correspond with CEN (Central European Norm) grades as follows:

  • CEN Grade 1 = Low security
  • CEN Grade 2 = Standard Security
  • CEN Grade 3 = Medium / High Security
  • CEN Grade 4 = High Security
  • CEN Grade 5 = Extra High Security
  • CEN Grade 6 = Maximum Security

These security grades are based upon various padlock attributes which protect them from attack. CEN padlock tests examine how well locks and their shackles resist twisting, drilling, pulling and cutting. They also look into whether locks can be broken through impact at low temperatures.  

For example, a grade 1 padlock has only 3 key differs and has relatively low resistance to pulling, twisting and cutting. Whereas a grade 3 padlock has 2500 key differs and is much more resistant to physical force. Security grade 5 and grade 6 padlocks have 10,000 and 20,000 key differs respectively, they are highly resistant to physical attacks and will withstand freezing with impact attacks down to -40 degrees celsius. 

  CEN Grade  
  1 2 3 4 5 6 Units
Minimum number of effective key differs 300 1000 2500 5000 10000 20000  
Non-interpassing of keys with just one interval differ - Torque on 1  1  1.5  1.5  1.5  1.5 Nm
Resistance to force on cylinder plug or locking mechanism -  -  4  5  10  15 kN 
Resistance to torque on cylinder plug or locking mechanism.  -  2.5  5  15  20 30   Nm
 Resistance to pulling of shackle and staple  3  5  15  30  70  100  kN
 Resistance to twisting of shackle and staple  40  100  200  450  1200  2500  Nm
 Resistance to cutting of shackle and staple  15  25  35  70  100  kN
 Resistance to impact on padlock body  -  -20  -20  -40  -40  deg.C.
 Shackle and staple at low temperature  -  1250  3050 6550   7150  g
   -  800  1000  1400  1500  mm
Resistance to drilling of padlock body, shackle and staple  -  2  4  8  Min.
 Resistance to sawing of padlock body, shackle and staple  -  -  -  2  4  8  Min.


Sold Secure Ratings

Sold Secure is a UK based non-profit organisation engaged in independent testing and assessment of security products. Started in 1992 by Northumbria and Essex Police the organisation is now owned and operated by the Master Locksmiths Association, another non-profit organisation.

Sold Secure Approval uses 3 main categories: Bronze, Silver and Gold - where Bronze is the lowest rating. There is also an additional Diamond level for certain products). These categories reflect the time and tools used in product testing. Here’s a breakdown of Sold Secure categories:

  • Bronze: Medium / High security for locking gates, sheds, bicycles etc. Approximately equivalent to the CEN3 insurance grade.
  • Silver: High security with a hardened steel shackle of 11mm or more usually. It will resist attacks well and can be used for motorcycles, larger gates and containers. Equivalent to the CEN4 insurance grade.
  • Gold: Extra high security often with a solid steel body and a shackle of 14mm or more. Many will be of a closed shackle design and be very hard to remove. Ideal for securing vehicles to the ground via a chain, large gates, warehouse doors etc. Equivalent to the CEN4 insurance grade 5 +.

Insurance Approved Padlocks

Insurance companies will often require that ‘approved’ padlocks are used for various specific applications. Typically the insurance company will ask for:

  • A 5 Lever padlock.
  • A closed shackle padlock.
  • A CEN 3 graded padlock or higher.
  • A Sold Secure rated padlock.

If an insurance company states that a 5 lever padlock must be used they are actually referring to the number of pins, not levers. 5 or more spring loaded pins makes the padlock more resistant to lock-picking. High security padlocks will typically use as many as 6 pins. But it must be borne in mind that the number of pins alone is not an adequate indication of padlock security. Best to look at CEN grade padlocks which will have 5 or more pins and will have undergone rigorous testing.


Closed shackle padlocks are designed to protect the shackle from cutting attacks. This is achieved by only exposing the minimum amount of shackle necessary to operate the lock.

closed shackle padlock

CEN ratings have already been discussed. For most security applications your insurance company will require CEN 3 rated padlocks or higher.

Sold Secure is another of the standards which may be referenced by insurance companies with regard to locks and security. At present there are not many padlocks which have undergone the required Sold Secure testng.

Selecting the Right Padlock

When considering which padlock to use for any security application it’s important to think about the potential impact of a security breach. For example, if your aim is to secure a valuable motorcycle that’s maybe worth in excess of £10,000 then spending £200 to £300 on security should be considered a good investment. Think about the potential impact and cost of losing the item or items that you want to secure as this will indicate how much you should be investing in your security.

And you must remember that your security system is only ever as good as the weakest link in the system. You may be securing your valuable motorcycle by locking it to a ground anchor using a robust chain and secure padlock but if you use a weak ground anchor or low-security chain then the money you invested in a high security padlock will have been wasted. Make certain that the security ratings of all elements are matched.

This message was added on Saturday 22nd June 2019

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