5 Things to Know About Safe Deposit Boxes, Home Safes and Your Valuables

Friday, November 15 at 10:20 AM
Category: Personal Finance

1. Think about what should or should not be kept in a bank's safe deposit box. While safe deposit boxes are intended to provide more protection than keeping property at home, contents of boxes can still be affected by external elements including water damage, humidity and intense heat.

First, original versions of important documents, and even photocopies of important documents, are generally good candidates for placing in a safe deposit box. For example, these documents often include birth certificates, property deeds, car titles, and U.S. Savings Bonds. For guidance on where to store your original will, check with an attorney about what is required or recommended based on state law. Beware documents needing to be quickly available (e.g., passports and powers of attorney) when the bank is not open for business should not be kept in the safe deposit box.

Second, family keepsakes and valuables are often placed in safe deposit boxes. These may include jewelry, collectibles and coins.

Third, check your box agreement with the bank carefully for any restrictions on what is allowed. It is still your responsibility to provide for any insurance coverage you may desire on items you place in a box. Neither the FDIC nor the bank provide insurance for your property so be sure to visit with your insurance adviser.

2. You're better off stashing your cash in a bank deposit account, like a savings account or certificate of deposit, than in a home safe or a safe deposit box. "Unlike money in a savings account, money in a home safe or safe deposit box cannot earn interest, so the purchasing power of your cash will decrease," said Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC's Community Outreach Section. (See section five for more about the potential risks.)

3. A home safe isn't a true replacement for a bank's safe deposit box.
A home safe may be good for replaceable items you may need immediate access to — such as a passport — but generally home safes may not be as secure as safe deposit boxes. A burglar could more easily break into your home and find a way to enter the safe, or depending upon its size, haul off the entire safe.

4. The FDIC website* discusses if a bank ever fails, when will one have access to their safe deposit box. When the failed bank's deposits are assumed by a healthy bank, the branch offices usually reopen the next business day. At that time, you will have access to your safe deposit boxes. In the event of a depositor payoff, the FDIC will send a letter to you informing you of the closing. The letter will instruct you on how you can remove the contents of your box. Access to the safe deposit boxes is typically granted to the safe deposit holders the next business day after the closure.”

5. No safe deposit box or home safe is completely protected from theft, fire, flood or other loss or damage. Don't keep identifying information near your safe deposit box key, such as the bank's name, in case of loss or theft. FDIC insurance does not cover safe deposit boxes. If you want protection for the valuables in your safe deposit box or home safe, then talk to your insurance agent. Refer to your safe deposit box agreement for terms and conditions surrounding your safe deposit box rental.

We know this may be a lot of information to take in. If you have questions about safe deposit boxes, then feel free to call us at (866) 952-9523 or visit a nearby branch.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Financial Education
Sentinel Vaults on 3/14/2014 at 9:16 AM
This is quite informative and I really agree with your points as we also guide our clients or customer the same way. This is really required to make them educate about the service and at the same time to tell them the necessity of the service. The big thing what we have made for our customer is setting up insurance policy to make them feel safe. So every service provider into this business also look after the comfort zone of every of our clients.
Colt on 10/27/2014 at 6:50 AM
How big are the safety deposit boxes at arvest banks? And about how much a year does it cost to use one?
Arvest Blog Admin on 10/27/2014 at 8:45 PM
Colt - Thanks for your inquiry. Safety deposit box sizes and prices vary by branch. Please call us at (866) 952-9523 or visit a nearby branch for information specific to your branch. Thanks for your interest.

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