How safe are safe deposit boxes?
With the economy in turmoil and the stock market doing its best impression of a bi-polar schizophrenic, many people are turning towards other methods to store their valuables or nurture their nest-egg. Safe-deposit boxes are an age-old way to keep valuables secure without having to store them in your mattress. But how safe are they? It’s important you know a few things about them:
Information on Keeping Your valuable in a safe deposit box:
- “Safe-deposit boxes are loss-resistant, not loss-proof,” remarks David McGuinn, president of Safe Deposit Specialists, a company which sells boxes and trains bankers in their use.
- The contents of safe-deposit boxes aren’t insured like bank accounts are, which have FDIC protection, unless you cover them in your homeowner’s insuracne or renter’s policy. Although rare, bank heists have been known to target safe deposit boxes, so if you’re not insured, it would be a total loss.
- If you’re concerned about safety, go for the vault. Self-service boxes are more convenient, but this easy access also means they’re not as secure.
- Seal valuables inside watertight plastic bags. Boxes can sometimes be flooded in the event of severe weather or a fire, which can be more likely than a heist.
- Be sure to keep up on the rent! Either the bank or the state may be able to seize the contents as unclaimed property if you don’t. More than $32.9 billion in valuables has been abandoned or otherwise left unclaimed in safe deposit boxes in recent years.
- If you want more than 1 person to be able to access the box, choose your confidants wisely. You might want to give someone access to the box in case you become disabled, but you also don’t want a child or other family member using the box as a piggy bank to support a drug habit or gambling problem.
- If you’re storing important documents, opt for digital back-ups as well. Many banks and online vendors offer “virtual safe deposit boxes.”
- Make sure someone else at least knows about the box in the event of your untimely demise, and be sure it’s in your will. This way it can be accessed post-partum by whoever is handling your estate.