With an increase of uncertainty, identity theft and economic crisis, many homeowners and consumers take matters into their own hands to ensure security. For this reason, the sale of home safes are on the rise. They are no longer simply a grey steel box, but many of them are designed as books cases, common household items or pieces of art.
People are stashing their cash, valuables, firearms, and jewelry in home safes for a variety of reasons. Some have lost trust in banks, some prefer to have a reserve of cash on hand, and others prefer the security of keeping their valuables close at hand.
A small, standard safe can be purchase at a local hardware store for $50. A high end gun safe will run over $1000 and the price only increases from there for decoy or specialty safes.
While safes may allow some owners to sleep soundly, some say they are not a good choice for security. Quite simply, keeping cash, gold, jewels or any important documents in a home safe is not a secure choice, says Ted Sarenski, president and CEO of Blue Ocean Strategic Capital in Syracuse, N.Y.
Sarneski says that although some home safes claim to be fireproof, many are not. Additionally, having a safe in the home is a sign to predators that you have something worthwhile and may pose as an invitation. Many homeowner’s policies have limits to the amount of money, coins, and jewelry they will replace if stolen. In addition to policy limits, making a theft claim can be more difficult than homeowners realize. The burden of proof is the responsibility of the homeowner and they must prove what was in the safe, and what was taken.
The risk involved with owning a safe seems to pose the question whether it is worth it, or whether a safe-deposit box at a bank is a better choice.
"In a bank, there is a lot more security. The bank has [an insurance] policy with higher limits than you can get with yours," says Peter Moraga, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Network of California, a nonprofit trade association.
Sarenski adds that the additional protection of a bank comes in the form of account statements or online access, which shows proof of what you have. If the bank goes bankrupt, your cash is insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC which is more than your homeowners policy without purchasing additional coverage.
Retailers of large safes advice buyers to never place a safe in front of a window, or in a room that is visible by passersby and if possible, bolt safes to the floor or wall .
Insurance companies recommend owners to keep detailed records of what is in the safe including ATM receipts, invoices and pictures or video of your items.