Safe Deposit Box Protections
When opening a savings account, money market account or any other type of account at a bank thats FDIC insured, you enjoy certain protections. Specifically, if the bank fails, the FDIC will reimburse any money in your accounts up to federal limits.
Safe deposit boxes, on the other hand, dont work that way. Since theyre not technically deposit accounts, theyre not covered by FDIC rules, and banks dont have to provide any type of insurance independently. The FDIC advises banking customers that no safe deposit box is 100% protected against things like theft, fire, floods or other types of damage resulting in losses.
Since protections are limited for safe deposit boxes, banks may advise customers to take their own safety precautions. For example, that may include keeping a detailed inventory of the boxs contents, along with photographs of whats inside and individually insuring valuables, such as jewelry or collectibles.
Advance Directives For Health Care
When it comes to estate planning and your health, two documents are indispensable: a living will and a health care proxy. These documents are sometimes referred to collectively as advance directives, but each serves a unique purpose. A living will states your wishes for end-of-life care: Do you want a ventilator or feeding tube used to keep you alive? Do you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops? Absent a living will, doctors are obligated to take extraordinary steps to save you. A health care proxy, also known as a health care power of attorney, designates someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you cant make them for yourself.
Neither document will do you much good locked away in an inaccessible safe deposit box. Make sure your medical providers, family members and health care POA have copies on hand.
Valuables You Havent Insured
Even though items in a safe deposit box are secure, you should make sure theyre covered by your homeowners insurance policy or a special rider, just in casethere are even companies that specialize in insuring safe deposit box contents.
Keep in mind that the money you have on deposit in a federally insured bank or credit union is protected, but items in a safe deposit box are not. Tell your insurance company that the items will be kept in a safe deposit box. You might get away with a lower premium, as the items will be more secure than they would be in your home.
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Items You Shouldn’t Keep In A Safety Deposit Box
You can access your safety deposit box during banking hours, which means you won’t be able to get into it on holidays and, in some cases, on weekends. Store items you know you won’t need in an emergency. Passports, medical directives, the only copies of wills and powers of attorney, and other documents that you may suddenly need are better kept in a secure spot at home, such as a fireproof home safe thats bolted to the floor or wall.
Safe deposit boxes cant be accessed 24/7, so dont put anything in them that you might need in a hurry.
Youre better off keeping the following items out of your safe deposit box:
Are My Contents Insured
A big question that people have with safety deposit boxes is: Are my contents insured? When it comes to chase, at your contents inside the safety deposit box or not insured by the FDIC or Chase bank.
The contents of your safe deposit box are not protected against loss or damage under the insurance coverage maintained by the bank or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. For your protection, you may wish to secure your own insurance through an insurance company of your choice.
So it would be a good idea to seek out insurance options for your belongings. Remember, a natural disaster can strike anywhere and while your belongings are pretty secure in a vault, they will not be invincible. For that reason, some people like to put their belongings in a waterproof sealed case, bag, or container and then insert that into the safety deposit box.
It is also a very good idea to thoroughly document every single item in your safety deposit box. A great way to do this is to take high-quality photos of every item.
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Bank Safe Deposit Box Alternatives
Clearly bank safe deposit boxes arent your best solution for optimal security. The options for protecting your wealth include private vault facilities, home safes, and trying to hide your wealth from thieves. Relying on bait to believe theyve got your wealth or a good hiding place will leave your wealth at risk. All of the fake mayo jars and bags in the freeze wont discourage knowledgeable thieves. So that leaves two main alternatives, private vault facilities and home safes.
Getting Discounts On Safety Deposit Boxes
People who already have active checking or savings accounts often get significant discounts on safety deposit boxes at their banks. For instance, Regions Bank will provide 50% off the annual box fee for people who have active LifeGreen Checking Accounts, while US Bank does the same for Platinum Checking account-holders.
To make sure you receive the appropriate price, you may need to print out the terms of the deal when you visit the bank.
A deposit account agreement or schedule of fees from your bank’s website will often include the relevant information. Having an account at the same bank with your safety deposit box also saves you money on the invoicing fee, a common annual charge on box rentals.
Banks often waive this fee if you pay for your safety deposit box through automatic debits from your checking account.
At a few places, you receive discounts of $10 or 10% off the total cost if you opt to set up automatic payments. While this may save you both time and money, it’s important to save the date when you first rent the box. If you forget about the charge, you may end up unprepared for the withdrawal and run into overdraft fees twelve months later.
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What Should You Store
Because theyre secure, bank safe deposit boxes are an ideal place to store valuables and important documents. Some examples include personal and property files, original birth certificates, insurance policies, property deeds, car titles and U.S. bonds. You can also store other priceless items like gold coins, family heirlooms and photo negatives. Again, you may want to place paper items in waterproof containers for extra protection.
Bank safe deposit boxes shouldnt be used to store passports, revocable living wills and powers of attorney. You can always get those documents replaced if you lose them. You also should avoid storing cash in your safe deposit box. Its actually against the rules of many banks.Its also safer in an FDIC-insured bank account. Plus, if you put cash in a high-yield savings account, you can grow your money rather than letting it sit idly.
Dont use bank safe deposit boxes to store any items you might need quickly, especially in an emergency. Boxes can only be accessed during the banks business hours.
Remember that no one can get into your safety deposit box unless you have pre-authorized them. Therefore, you probably shouldnt store anything like medical directives or funeral arrangements. You may not have time to pre-authorize anyone to access those documents.
Where To Put Your Valuables Instead Of A Safe Deposit Box
Money expert Clark Howard doesnt like safe deposit boxes for exactly the reason described in the case above.
Instead, he says: I keep valuables in a large fireproof safe. Its well hidden and way too heavy for anyone to just walk out with.
Clark says he used to recommend safety deposit boxes, but during the Great Recession, a lot of people lost their possessions when banks shut their doors.
A bank would go insolvent, a branch would be purchased by somebody else, the banks would close and your possessions would go lost in space, he says. Buy yourself your own big safe that is fireproof and put your possessions in it, because the banks fouled this up in the aftermath of the banking scandals.
Besides, safe deposit boxes arent terribly convenient: You have to get to the bank, and it has to be open when you need your items. With a home safe, you can access the contents any time you want.
Additionally, anything stored in your home will be covered by your homeowners insurance, which is not always the case with safe deposit boxes.
Note that some items, such as expensive jewelry, will likely need a special insurance rider to be covered up to their full value. Check with your home insurance company to see if this applies to you.
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Jason Bourne Is Not The Norm
Moviemakers love safe deposit boxes much more than bank executives do. On film, theyre an essential tool for spies Jason Bourne, for example, retrieved cash and passports from a Swiss box with the help of a device implanted in his hip and a magnet for cunning thieves. Cinematic burglars have raided highly secured vaults by tunneling in , drilling through a wall , disabling alarms , taking hostages or simply blowing off the doors .
Real-world criminals have tried similarly spectacular attacks. In Conroe, Tex., someone cut through the roof of a bank last year and looted its safe deposit vault. Robbers took a similar route three years ago into two banks in Brooklyn and Queens, where they left empty boxes scattered in their wake. But such capers are rare. Of the 19,000 bank robberies reported to the F.B.I. in the last five years, only 44 involved safe-deposit heists.
Banks increasingly regard safe deposit boxes as more of a headache than theyre worth. Theyre expensive to build, complicated to maintain and not very lucrative. The four largest American banks JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup rarely install them in new branches. Capital One stopped renting out new boxes in 2016. A dwindling number of customers wanted them, a bank spokeswoman said.
Are Bank Safe Deposit Boxes Secure
Safety deposit boxes are very secure to access. Typically, each comes with two keys needed to open the box: one held by the bank and the other held by the boxs owner.
Banks require identification when you go into the bank to access a safety deposit box. If someone else needs to access your box, theyll need prior authorization from you.
For your security, dont put any identifying information on your safe deposit box key such as the box number or banks name. This way, if you lose your key or someone steals it, no one will know what it belongs to.
Safety deposit boxes are housed in vaults with thick doors and walls. Theyre reinforced to keep them safe during hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. However, no space is entirely safe from natural disasters. You may want to put your items in waterproof containers or a plastic zip-lock bag to prevent water damage.
It might not sound better than putting your items in a safe at home, but a criminal can break into your house easier than into a bank vault and deposit box. They wont be able to open your deposit box without your key anyways.
Although storing your items in bank safe deposit boxes are safe, in the event that theyre somehow stolen, they may be less protected. Neither the bank nor the FDIC insure the contents of safety deposit boxes. Banks wont reimburse you for damage or theft either. If you want to insure your items, youll need to get that coverage yourself via insurance.
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Can You Keep A Gun In A Safety Deposit Box
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- The only copy of your will.
- Valuables you haven’t inventoried.
- An inventory of your household possessions.
- Your passport.
- The originals of your birth certificate and marriage license.
- Stock and bond certificates and U.S. Savings bonds.
Chase Safety Deposit Box Rules
You will not be able to place any items that you wish and your safety deposit box. That is because the lease agreement will have specific exclusions for certain items. Below, I have pulled out some language from a lease agreement to give you some insight into what might be excluded. Please note that your individual lease agreement may have different language.
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Can My Wife Access My Safe Deposit Box
Just because you may have a key to the safe deposit box does not authorize you to access the contents of the safe deposit box. If you are a lessee, co-tenant, or deputy of the decedents safe deposit box, then you may have the legal authority to access the safe deposit box without the presence of the clerk of court.
You Might Be Waitlisted
Some Chase bank locations may not have any safety deposit boxes available for you to rent. It is not uncommon for some banks to be completely booked up and so you might have to get on a waiting list. If that happens, you might want to shop around and check out a few different locations/branches to see which have available safety deposit boxes. You might also inquire with the banker to see if they can check availability for other branches if possible.
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Why Safe Deposit Boxes Could Be A Bad Idea
A New York Times article tells the story of a New Jersey man who had kept his collection of rare watches in a safe deposit box at a local bank since 1983. That bank changed ownership many times over the years, eventually becoming a Wells Fargo.
In 2014, he opened the box to find that his watches along with some other valuables and documents he had in the box were missing. The total value of the items? An estimated $10 million plus!
Unfortunately, according to the Times:
There are an estimated 25 million safe deposit boxes in America, and they operate in a legal gray zone within the highly regulated banking industry. There are no federal laws governing the boxes no rules require banks to compensate customers if their property is stolen or destroyed.
The man spent thousands of dollars in legal fees suing the bank over his losses but, five years later, had yet to get any sort of settlement, although the bank was able to locate some of his watches and return them to him.
What To Store In Yours
Kirsten Rohrs Schmitt is an accomplished professional editor, writer, proofreader, and fact-checker. She has expertise in finance, investing, real estate, and world history. Throughout her career, she has written and edited content for numerous consumer magazines and websites, crafted resumes and social media content for business owners, and created collateral for academia and nonprofits. Kirsten is also the founder and director of Your Best Edit find her on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Safeguarding your valuables can be worrisome. There are many things you have to consider, including where you to put them and how much you want to pay for their safety. Sure, you can put hide your valuables under your mattress with all that cash you’ve been stashing away. But that’s probably not a great idea.
You may consider buying a home safe or keep your valuables in a locked vault behind your uncle’s portrait. Another option is a safe deposit box, which you can rent from a local financial institution. You may also hear them referred to as safety deposit boxes. Although you’ll have to make a special trip to ensure your valuables are safe and retrieve them, you shouldn’t keep everything in there. Read on for tips on what you should store in your safe deposit box and what you might need easy access to and should keep with you at home.
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How Much Does A Safe Deposit Box Cost
Banks and credit unions typically charge a fee for renting a safe deposit box. This fee usually corresponds to the size of the box, with larger boxes costing more.
Safe deposit box fees can be charged monthly or annually, depending on the terms of the lease set by the bank. At the lower end, you may pay around $40 a year for the smallest size safe deposit box. At the higher end, the largest boxes could cost you upward of $300 a year, depending on the bank.
Some banks also may charge an initial deposit when leasing a safe deposit box. Its important to review the lease agreement to understand what the fees are and when they apply.
For example, the agreement may specify that the annual rent must be paid in full one year in advance. If rent for a safe deposit box isnt paid on time, then an additional late fee or penalty could kick in. And if you lose your keys to the box and the bank has to have a locksmith open it, then you may be responsible for those fees as well. Failure to pay rent could result in the bank terminating your lease contract.
When Can I Access My Safety Deposit Box
You will be able to access your safety deposit box during normal business hours. In some cases this may mean a typical schedule of 9 AM a.m. to 5 PM p.m. Monday through Friday. Some locations might have weekend hours but it just will depend.
This is a big reason why they suggest not to include items that you might need in an emergency. For example, putting a passport, a power of attorney, medical directive, or something along those lines in a safety deposit box is normally not a good idea.
You should be aware that the lease agreement probably will have language that states that your access can be restricted. For example it states:
We can restrict access to your box for any reason, including but not limited to past due rent and fees, information we receive in court documents, our inability to obtain information that satisfies our Know Your Customer requirements, and any unexpected circumstances
You also can rent these boxes jointly so that you and someone else has equal access.
You should be able to appoint an agent or Attorney in Fact to have access to or surrender the box. I highly suggest that you look at the terms and conditions closely if youre considering giving authority to someone on this basis. And it goes without saying but you obviously want to have a high level of trust with that individual.
In order to access the safety deposit box you will need to show your ID and access it in the presence of a bank agent.
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