Wednesday, February 21, 2024

5 Warnings About Bank Safe Deposit Boxes

By Tim Gamble
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Bank safe deposit boxes may seem like the perfect place to store important documents, plans, and even valuables. And in many cases this may be true. However, here are five considerations to think through carefully before deciding to do so.

First, you won't have 24/7 access to the documents and other items in your box, as banks are generally closed at night, and on weekends and holidays. Also, in some circumstances, banks may not open during normal business hours due to inclement weather, natural disasters, or "bank holidays" during financial disasters. It is generally recommended that items that may need to be quickly accessed NOT be stored in a safe deposit box, such as passports, medical directives, living wills, etc. 

Second, if you are forced to suddenly bug-out for whatever reason, it is highly doubtful you'll have time to swing by the bank to collect your documents and valuables on your way out of town, even if the bank is open. 

Third, your documents and other items in safe deposit boxes are NOT insured by the government (FDIC does NOT cover the contents of safe deposit boxes). The contents may or may not be insured privately by the bank. You'll have to read your agreement closely to find out if your bank maintains private insurance on the contents, and what exclusions and limitations may apply. It is also worth noting that "The bank cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen to your safety deposit box, nor the items contained within the box," according to In other words, the bank cannot be held legally liable if the contents of your safe deposit box are somehow stolen, lost, or damaged. 

Fourth, law enforcement and government officials will have access to your safe deposit box. According to, "Government regulatory or enforcement agencies may obtain a court order to access your safe deposit box in some circumstances. An example of this would be if they have “reasonable cause” to believe your box contains illegal or illegally-obtained items. Safe deposit boxes may be frozen, similar to a bank account, until the matter has been resolved.

Fifth, be aware of what happened in Argentina during their financial crisis. Banks were closed by the government for an extend period of time. When they reopened, bank customers found that their safe deposit boxes had been emptied out, either by corrupt bank employees or corrupt government officials (or both, working together). In most cases, those bank customers had no recourse and never recovered their stolen items. 

ROLOWAY Large Fireproof Document Bag. The ROLOWAY Large (17"x12"x5.8") Fireproof (to 2000°F) and Water-resistant Document Bag is perfect for your important documents, cash, and other valuables. 

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