Tag Archive: Documents

SentrySafe SFW205CWB Review

Looking for an extra large heavy-weight floor safe to protect documents and valuables from fire, flood, or theft? The SentrySafe SFW205CWB might be exactly what you’re looking for. In this review, we’ll take a look at what exactly you’re getting.

SentrySafe SFW205CWB Review

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The SFW205CWB is designed to give you solid protection against natural elements like fire and water, as well as against theft. Theoretically, you’ll never have to worry about losing anything to damage, or risk having your valuables get stolen.

Theft Deterrence

Let’s start with theft. First of all, this steel box weighs in at a solid 138.2 pounds (56.6 kg). Even if it’s not bolted to the floor, that’s a pretty hefty load for someone to pick up and walk off with.

In addition, the safe can easily be secured to the floor to make it even less likely to disappear. It has two areas to drill through inside the bottom shelf of the safe. By using the provided mounting hardware, you’ll be able to ensure that your safe cannot be removed.

One negative to this model is a lack of drilling areas on the back side, so it cannot be mounted on the wall, unlike some similar models. The substantial weight is probably a factor in this too. Despite not being wall mountable, this model does claim protection against a fall from as far as two stories high.

Damage Protection

Not only is this safe water-resistant in up to 8 inches of water for 24 hours, it’s rated to withstand fire for up to one hour as well. It offers protection against temperatures reaching up to 1700° Fahrenheit (927° Celsius). Unlike some of its competitors, it’s rated to protect electronics like USB drives and hard drives as well as media like CDs and DVDs.

As with any air tight safe, be sure to place your valuable documents into airtight, dishwasher and microwave safe containers, because there is moisture involved when the safe reacts with heat. Like any safe of this kind, you’ll want to put a desiccant material inside as well to absorb moisture from the safe “sweating.” Something like this should do the trick.

This model comes with a warranty and insurance policy to cover losses up to $50,000 if the safe is registered. The insurance policies provided by the manufacturers do not cover burglary. However, your home-owner’s insurance (or renter’s insurance) likely covers burglary. Check your policy to be sure. Register your safe and get warranty details here.

Sentry Safe InteriorDimensions are 19.3 by 18.6 by 23.8 inches, making this safe larger than most cheaper models. It has an advertised interior space of 2.0 cubic feet (56.5 cubic liters) – pretty good for a home safe in this class.

The safe also provides convenience for all your items, especially smaller items such as keys, as the safe comes with adjustable trays, a key rack, and a slot for smaller valuables. For full details, see the owner’s manual here (PDF link).

Decision Guide

Pros:

  • Although the safe has exterior hinges, there are no specific weak spots that can be tampered with, making it a reliable, trustworthy safe you can count on.
  • It protects CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, and other memory drives for a guaranteed 1 hour against a fire up to 1700° F.
  • Thanks to its solid weight, it requires strength to be able to move it, making it more reliable against thefts of opportunity.
  • By having a six-digit combination code to the safe and no key, it provides additional protection against theft, and it is also very simple to use.
  • As the safe is heavy steel, it is very durable and solid, making it difficult for thieves to steal since it is not a one-man job.
  • 7-inch and 1-inch interior drawers allow for organization.
  • Lifetime anti-fire replacement warranty from manufacturer.

Cons

  • Once you have set the combination for the safe, it can no longer be changed, and there’s no backup key.
  • The safe (when exposed to fire) does not protect computer floppy disks, ink cartridges, videotapes, audio/video cassette tapes, or photo negatives, according to the manufacturer. This is normal for this class of safes, but still unfortunate.
  • Although the safe becomes more secured when being drilled to the floor, drilling can potentially compromise the water protection provided by the safe.
  • Delivery and installation requires at least two people to carry and move due to the product’s weight of being over 100 pounds.
  • Despite the accessibility of the trays, some customers report they are not made with very good material and cannot fit easily into the slots.
  • You must “air out” the safe at least once a month.

Overall, the SentrySafe SFW205CWB is a solid (pun intended) entry from a well known, reputable manufacturer. It is quite capable of providing reliable protection for your important valuables and documents against fire, water, and theft. Beyond the obvious reassuring heft of the safe, the manufacturer’s warranty should make this an easy purchase.

You can purchase it here on Amazon.

Comments welcome! Do you have experience with this model? What are your thoughts? Share below!

Are Safe Deposit Boxes FDIC-Insured?

Safe Lock

As you probably know, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (more commonly known as the FDIC) automatically provides insurance for up to $250,000 (per person, per financial institution / bank) of money deposited into a bank. That means that in the event of a natural disaster or bank collapse, your money is safe. Since the insurance is from the government, it’s not backed by a private corporation, so it will be there no matter what, unless the government were to fail (in which case you probably have bigger issues to worry about).

So bank accounts are FDIC insured. But what about safe deposit boxes in a bank’s vault?

Are safe deposit boxes insured by the FDIC?

Gold Combination Lock

The short answer is no. Safe deposit boxes are NOT FDIC insured. That means that in the event of a disaster, the contents of your safe deposit box may not actually be as safe as you think. The contract you signed when you leased the box likely says the bank is not liable if the contents are ruined, perhaps by something like a hurricane or flood. Hurricane Katrina destroyed at least 8,000 safe deposit boxes in 2005, so it can happen. (Source)

Even though there’s no FDIC insurance, the bank itself may have some limited insurance. Check your contract, because they might at least refund the charge of the box’s lease to you. (Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to keep your contract in the deposit box!)

However, if a bank fails, they are legally obligated to return the contents of your safe deposit box to you.  According to the FDIC website, in the event of a bank’s collapse, your possessions from the safe deposit box ought to be available for you to pick up from the bank on the next business day. (Source)

Some Euros on a table

Image via PicJumbo

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid safe deposit boxes. In most ways, keeping valuable papers or other items secure in a bank vault will be safer than keeping them at home, especially if you don’t have a good home safe in your house. You may also be able to get a rider on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to cover safety deposit box contents. Your standard policy may or may not cover it, but if it does, there’s likely a $1,000 limit.

If you’re considering keeping money in a vault, don’t do it. By putting it into an actual bank account, you’ll not only gain FDIC insurance coverage on it, you’ll also receive interest. Also, don’t keep your will in the bank. Although it seems to make sense, it will require a court order to open your vault to get at the will after your death.

Documents to Keep in a Home Safe

Piggy Bank SafeWe’re well into the 21st century, so you have an entirely paperless life, right? No? Well, it’s good to have goals to aspire too 🙂

In the mean time while we’re waiting for the legendary paper-free office, we’re all accumulating more and more documents with each passing month. Of course, some of these are more important than others and need to be kept safe. But which ones?

Here are some tips to help you decide which documents need to be kept in a safe and which will be ok on a desk, in a drawer, or in a normal file cabinet.

Irreplaceable Heirlooms

If you can’t replace it, you need to protect it. Any irreplaceable antique documents related to your heritage should be kept somewhere fire and waterproof. If you have family relics like old love letters, charters, or ancient deeds, you’ll want to store them somewhere other than a cardboard box in the basement.

For documents with primarily sentimental value, you don’t need to worry about theft as much as natural disaster. What would happen if your house flooded? If there was a fire? Keep the dangers in mind when you’re choosing how to protect your heirloom papers.

Life Documents

Passport

Documents related to your life might technically be replaceable, but it’s a huge nuisance to get copies from the government. Also, losing these can likely allow someone to steal your identity. Again, these can be replaced, but keeping them secure in the first place is far easier!

This category includes things like passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, vaccination records, and social security cards. The safest place for these is of course a safety deposit box at your bank, but you will occasionally need access to them. A fireproof home safe is an excellent alternative to a bank safe deposit box, and it’s much more convenient. Keeping them in a safe also guarantees they will not be misplaced, but will be ready when you need them.

Financial Information

Some Euros on a table

Image via PicJumbo

Information regarding current debts, investment contracts, or retirement plans should be kept securely in your house. You never know when you’ll need them, so you want them accessible, but these again could be stolen if kept in the open.

It’s not a bad idea to keep some cash on hand as well. Perhaps a portion of your emergency fund should stay in your safe – although not too much, since an emergency fund works best if you can pretend you don’t have it!

Just In Case: Wills and Insurance Information

Locked Gate

Image via PicJumbo 

If something were to happen to you, your property, your house, or your loved ones, certain documents would need to be readily available. Insurance contracts and policies should be kept somewhere secure, yet accessible. In the event of  a crisis, you don’t want to have to search for insurance policy information in order to take advantage of the coverage you’ve been paying for.

Make sure someone besides you knows where your documents are and how to get at them. In the event of your unexpected incapacitation or death, someone else will need to be able to get at your will, so be sure to store it in your safe and let your family know how to get it.

What Else?

Now you have a better idea of what documents to keep in your home safe. I’m not a lawyer, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but hopefully this gives you some ideas. If you’re wondering what’s the best home safe for your needs, check out my list on the front page.

Other images via Flickr here and here.

What else do you keep in your safe?