Safe deposit boxes are legendary for revealing items that fix problems - at least, they do in Hollywood stories. But in real life, safe deposit boxes may not be the haven for your valuables they used to be. A horrifying story from the New York Times recounts the tales of some people who put their valuables (think diamonds and rare watches) into safe deposit boxes along with documents and family photos only to have many of their items disappear.
While we may think of banks as one of the safest places we can stash our stuff, safe deposit boxes aren’t regulated as strictly as other banking activities. And on top of that, they’ve fallen out of vogue, with many banks no longer operating them or having them in rare locations. If you have one, it may be time to figure out an alternate plan for storing your items.
What’s a person with valuable items to do?
Safe deposit box alternatives
If your important items are primarily documents, a fireproof, waterproof document safe may be all you need. If you’re storing digital media (like a flash drive or DVD) in the box along with paper documents, be sure to get one that says it can keep the internal temperature low.
If your items have a market value, like jewellery, a more formidable home safe that’s bolted to the floor may be up your alley. For the more creative, a hidden-in-plain-sight storage contraption may suit you. There are numerous options, my favourite being the entirely too complex doctored mayo jar.
Tips for safe deposit box loyalists
While banks aren’t immune to natural disasters or theft, you may decide that it’s a safer place to keep items than your own home.
The American FDIC suggests using a safe deposit box for originals of documents like birth certificates and car titles. It’s not, it emphasises, a place to put cash because that cash isn’t protected by insurance like it would if it were in a savings account.
If you choose to keep items with a monetary value in a safe deposit box, you’ll need to have insurance policies for those specific items. A safe deposit box does not necessarily provide coverage.