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Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

What Kind of Documents Should You Keep in a Safe?

Some documents are so critical that you cannot just file them in a cabinet and forget about them. They must either be in a fireproof safe at home or a safe deposit box at your bank. You must present original documents in several scenarios, such as your social security card when applying for a job or your birth certificate when applying for a passport. However, choosing a storage option and knowing which documents to keep secure can be challenging.

Person's finger touching the number keypad on safe lockbox.

Offsite Document Storage

While you might assume that an offsite safe deposit box is a relic of the past in this cloud-based storage era, that is not the case. People always rent safe deposit boxes, but only sometimes from a bank. Private businesses have stepped in to fill the gap as banks move away from offering this service.

Access to your documents and how the offsite safe deposit box protects them are two critical things to consider with offsite document storage. You can only obtain your documents during business hours, so ensure you are okay with that before renting a safe from any business. Be sure to ask what the safe deposit box is made from and whether the company offering it can guarantee you will not lose documents due to fire, flooding, vandalism, theft, or other disasters.

Personal Home Safes

Buying a safe and keeping it at home gives you 24-hour access to your documents. Remember that it may be a different quality than an offsite safe deposit box. According to a quote published by the financial website, home safes sustain water and fire damage more often than safe deposit boxes. It pays to do comparison shopping and look for a performance guarantee before bringing a safe home.

What Types of Documents Should You Store?

Only some have the documents listed below because they do not pertain to their life situation. However, you want to keep the following documents in a secure location to avoid the hassle of replacing them:

  • Adoption papers
  • Appraisals completed on your home, jewelry, or any other type of valuable personal property
  • Birth certificates for every family member
  • Car titles
  • Death certificates for family members if you have involvement with their estate
  • Disability benefits determination and award paperwork
  • Divorce decree
  • Homeowners, auto, life, and other insurance policies
  • Insurance home inventory
  • List of financial accounts, including account numbers and company contact information
  • Marriage certificate
  • Mortgage deed and paperwork
  • Naturalization papers
  • Paper stock and bond certificates
  • Power of Attorney paperwork
  • Social security card
  • Will and Living Will

Are Your Insurance Policies Up to Date?

People sometimes purchase insurance and then never look at the documents again. Suppose you have had a significant life change like buying a house, divorce, or adding a dependent. In that case, we encourage you to speak with your local independent insurance agent to ensure appropriate protection.

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