Your safe deposit box is not as safe as you think

Millions of rented safe deposit boxes are not insured by FDIC

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you are one of the 25 million people with a bank or credit union safe deposit box, chances are the contents are not Insured by your financial institution or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

“The only insurance that a bank carries protects themselves if they are found negligent," safe deposit security expert Dave McGuinn told News 6. “It’s just a liability policy but it doesn’t protect the contents, it protects the banks.”

McGuinn is the founder and president of Safe Deposit Specialists, a nationally recognized financial consulting firm that investigates as well as provides expert witness testimony in safe deposit litigations.

McGuinn reviewed the report featured on News 6 involving Jennifer Morsch, the woman who discovered her lost safe deposit heirlooms while watching a News 6 special segment on unclaimed Florida property.

“My items were not insured," Morsch said. “I asked them about insurance and they told me I would have to go to my insurance company.”

McGuinn  said her story is not unique. In fact, he is currently investigating 17 cases involving lost bank box contents that have not been accounted for and were never insured.

“I can’t name the banks, I can’t name the clients, but I can tell you they are the big mega-banks, nationwide,” he said.

In a Sept.  25 Reader’s Digest report titled “Why your bank safe deposit box isn’t sctually safe,” McGuinn argued that “there are no absolutely 100% secure options” for valuables stored in a bank strong box.

He argues the business is considered the “stepchild” of the banking industry, an inconvenience that brings a low fee of roughly $25 a year. 

Case in point, the three-year saga of Central Florida teacher Morsch.

She told News 6 she hadn’t opened her Chase safe deposit box, identified as box 64, since 2016. 

When she needed the cash and gold coins for her daughter’s college tuition, she discovered it had vanished.

Fate and a chance glimpse of a photo of her lost necklace on News 6 ended her search for the items, valued between $50,000 to $100,000.

“(The necklace) was worth $10 to $12 thousand,” she said. “My items were not insured.”

McGuinn recommended getting a home insurance rider “Three words: Personal Article Floater,” he said.

Many safe deposit box renters turn to private insurance from companies such as Safe Deposit Box Insurance.

“The beauty of it (private insurance) is you don’t have to have an appraisal, just have an amount that will cover your stuff,” McGuinn said.

Ana Regina Myrrha, of American Insurance Point LLC, said  the rates are lower if the contents are stored in a bank safe deposit box.

“It’s not the safe deposit box that is insured," she said, “it’s the contents like art or jewelry."

McGuinn also has what he calls the report card: 30 questions you should ask before choosing a bank safe deposit box.

We have a link to that list here.

For information on what you should put in a safe deposit box, click here.

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