I have often told you to use a safe deposit box (SDB) to store copies of your most important paperwork. That way, if something happens to your home, you can deal with the emergency with all your paperwork intact. But people also use SDB’s for items that they consider irreplaceable, like jewelry or stock certificates. While it’s not necessarily wrong to use an SDB this way, you should be aware of the risks.
Safe deposit boxes are loss resistant, not loss proof. You can lose the contents of your SDB if something happens to the bank itself. Consider what could happen if your bank is in a fire or flood. SDB’s are typically made of metal. They are not water-proof or heat-proof, which means the contents could melt, be scorched, or water damaged. Store paper documents in a water-tight plastic bag. Keep back-up copies of flash drives or photographs. Metal items, like jewelry or antique coins, should be stored in a hard-plastic container to help prevent melting.
You should also know that you will NOT be reimbursed by FDIC for the value of jewelry or antique coins stored in an SDB. The FDIC only reimburses the cash in your bank account, not personal property.
You will also NOT be reimbursed by your renter’s or homeowner’s policy (unless you have the items insured separately.)
Finally, know that your SDB is a rental. Keep up on payments or the contents will be turned over to your state’s Unclaimed Property department. A safe deposit box is a great resource, if used wisely.