Many people assume the most secure place to keep valuables is in a bank safe. After all, these safes have constant security and alarm systems protecting them. However, banks rarely insure these deposit boxes.
On the other hand, home safes are often insured by renters or homeowners insurance. These safes also allow you to access important documents without waiting for the bank to open. You can keep your important documents in your home, protected from fire, burglary and floods.
As a rule of thumb, you should keep any item that would be hard to replace in your safety-deposit box. However, here are some additional items you may want to include in your safe:
- Insurance policies. You will need your property insurance information immediately following an accident or natural disaster damages your home. You will also need to know how to contact your insurance agent to file a claim. Keep this information in your safe to protect it in case of a fire.
- Passports and identification cards. You don’t want your identification documents to get into the wrong hands. Place your passport and a copy of your driver’s licence in your safe in case you lose the originals and to reduce the risk for identity theft.
- Original birth and marriage certificates. You usually only have one copy of these documents, so keep them in a secure location where they won’t get stolen or lost.
- Medical information. Have your family’s doctor information, pharmacy contact information and prescription medications in your safe. In case of a medical emergency, you will need this information close by.
- External hard drive. Many people keep important information on their computer where it could get hacked or lost from a virus. Keep all family pictures, tax documents and online passwords on an external hard drive in your safe. This device ensures you have an extra copy of all your important digital files.
- Bank safe keys. If you have a safe in the bank, keep the keys in your home safe to protect them from theft.
- Bank account, outstanding debt and retirement plan information. After a fire, you will want to have documentation of all your financial information. Additionally, in case of death, you will want your posterity to have access to this information as well.
- Cash. You may need cash on hand in case of an emergency.
- Legal documents. If you have any legal documents, keep them protected in your safe. For example, if you have a will, store it in the safe. When you pass away, your loved ones will need to access a copy of the will to make sure your final wishes are met as soon as possible. Keeping a copy in your safe will also ensure your loved ones get taken care of during a time of great loss.
- Expensive or rare jewellery. You may want to protect expensive jewellery from theft but still have it close enough that you access it without much effort. These pieces may include heirloom jewellery or rare coins. Always keep an inventory of your rare jewellery with photos and written appraisals for your personal records.
- Household inventory. After a fire, you probably won’t be able to recall every possession in your home that was damaged. However, to file an insurance claim you will need that information. Keep an inventory of home items in your safe to protect them from fire damage.
- Stock and bond certificates. You may have electronic access to investment information. However, keeping written documents in a safe may be useful when you want to redeem them.
- Vehicle titles and spare keys. Keep your vehicle documentation in your safe, along with an extra pair of keys in case the original set gets lost or stolen.
Take time to compile your important documents and valuables. Then, organize them into your home safe. Keeping them in a secure location will ensure you have them during an emergency.