Most people assume that in order for their valuables to be safe they must be kept in a bank safety deposit box. After all banks go to great measures to keep all the burglars out, right? They have secure concrete bunkers they transform into vaults with tightly controlled access and vault doors that no one in the world would ever dream of breaking into. Plus they have very tightly controlled security alarms that will have the authorities there in minutes. All of this sounds like pretty convincing evidence to store your passports and important documents in a safety deposit box….but a fireproof safe might be a better option.
The first thing you must consider when you are looking at leasing a safety deposit box is the fact that they are not FDIC insured. The FDIC will only insure the deposits held in bank accounts and there are no requirements to insure any contents held in a safety deposit box. The contents inside a fireproof safe can be insured depending on your homeowner’s insurance policy because the fireproof safe is inside your home.
Another factor to consider is the resistance to fire. Fireproof safes have various ratings starting at a minimum of 15 minutes all the way up to 2 hours. The reason these ratings are there is to tell you that they can withstand high external temperatures for a specific amount of time. For example; a common house fire will have temperatures as hot as 1700 degrees. A standard fireproof safe with a 30 minute rating means for 30 minutes the safe can withstand 1700 degree temperatures without damaging the contents. Safety deposit boxes have no fire protection at all. Paying attention to this rating is a key factor when you decide to purchase a fireproof safe.
The final thing to consider is what you want to keep in your fireproof safe. Banks typically operate during business hours and if you need to access important documents after business hours you will not be able to gain access to your safety deposit box. Usually people will keep wills, decrees and various forms of legal paperwork in a safety deposit box. If a death occurs then the bank will seal off the safety deposit box and a court order will be required in order to open the box.
- Property deeds
- Insurance contracts
- Investment papers
- Wills/ legal documents
- Social security cards
You want to pay attention to any electronic media you want to store in the safe. Some fireproof safes are not rated to store electronic media and for that you will need a data media safe. They have higher fire resistant ratings and will protect vulnerable content such as plastic and electronic hard drives. Information is your best weapon. If a safe company offers you a “100% fireproof safe” without giving any rating information or other details would you buy it?
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