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Where to store your valuable items

Many people choose home safes or safe deposit boxes at banks to store and protect their valuables items such as jewellery, gold, share certificates, annuities, deeds of trust, wills, other valuable documents coins, stamps and cash.

But how safe are they really? Here's some tips for potential users of safe deposit boxes to protect the valuable contents of their safes.

Storing valuables in the home

Be sure your homeowners insurance covers safe deposit box valuables, even if it means paying an added premium.

Put valuable contents in individual sealed plastic bags and photograph them before and after sealing.

Avoid keeping original documents you might need to access immediately, such as a power of attorney, passports, medical-care directives, funeral instructions and, your will in the safe deposit box. Keep them locked in a home safe.

Store your valuables safely

Storing valuables in a safe deposit box

Read the contract for your box carefully to understand the conditions of storage.

Photograph and seal items in individual plastic bags before storing.

Get appraisals of your valuables and keep receipts. Although banks are not liable for contents lost in a disaster or terrorist attack, if you have a bank safety deposit box and can show receipts they might give some compensation.

Make sure your heirs know you have a safe deposit box and where it is. Otherwise, when you die, contents could revert to the state.

Be very specific about who can access your safe deposit box in power of attorney documents.

Fire and flood and your valuable items

You've stored your precious items, pieces of jewellery, family heirlooms, irreplaceable photographs and documents in a safe deposit box. So they're safe from fire or flood. Right?

Wrong. The box is just a box to contain your valuables. It's the concrete bank building and vault that protect your box contents in disasters, not the individual boxes.

Bank vaults have to be fireproof, but they're not necessarily waterproof, and neither are safety deposit boxes. Whether from a burst water main or a hurricane, chances are your valuables are going to get wet. Make sure to choose a box up high in the vault.

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