Safe-deposit boxes becoming popular, bankers say

June 14, 1993|By Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Renting a bank safe-deposit box long has been considered a dependable and economical way to safeguard valuables and important papers, and the practice is becoming more attractive as home environments become less secure, bank officials say.

"When you think about it, box rental is a very small price to pay for peace of mind," said Maria Valdez, who handles safe-deposit operations at Southwest Bank in Fort Worth, Texas, "especially when it comes to items that are of great personal value and are irreplaceable if they get stolen or lost in a fire or something."

Though jewelry, art works and family effects often are deposited, boxes are thought of mainly as places for documents of particular importance -- wills, mortgage papers, insurance policies, promissory notes, stock certificates, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce and custody papers.

Safe-deposit service is widely available at multibranch institutions and smaller independent banks alike, and box rentals are offered in many different sizes and prices.

Sizes typically range from 2 inches deep, 5 inches wide and 22 inches long at $15 to $25 a year to 16 inches deep, 16 inches wide and 22 inches long at over $200.

Strict precautions are taken on box access, and restrictions on box use are written into the rental contract, including prohibition of intoxicating beverages, narcotics, illegal substances, firearms and explosives.

One of the more common problems associated with safe-deposit boxes is the loss of box keys. That can prove expensive -- $75 to $100 -- when immediate access is needed and the lock must be drilled.

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