Last month, robbers overpowered a security guard and stole over 250 FNB safety deposit boxes from the bank’s Randburg branch. Police later found the boxes abandoned near Nasrec with some containing only documents.
Then on the 1st of January, 30 safety deposit boxes were stolen from FNB’s Parktown branch.
These incidents have brought into question just how safe bank vaults are as well as the insurance implications.
Dawie Loots, CEO of MUA Insurance Acceptances, says that most personal insurance policies will cater for items that are kept in a bank safety deposit box and will usually charge a reduced premium for these items as the risk of theft is perceived to be much lower. He adds that these latest incidents are “something that happens very seldom in South Africa, especially when compared to residential robberies or burglaries.”
“This means that the risk of storing valuables at home is still higher compared to storing items in a bank vault.”
Items kept in a bank deposit box are usually of high value (Kruger Rands, luxury watches) and the policyholder should know that as soon as these items are taken out of the bank deposit box, they could have zero or inadequate cover.
“It is vital to check with your insurance provider what the terms and conditions are should the items be taken out of the safety box. For example, what will the implications be should an expensive watch be taken out to wear to an event and the watch gets damaged or stolen.”
In addition, some banks may have a disclaimer in place to state that the bank cannot be held liable for any loss or damage to the contents of the box. Therefore Loots says that is critical that consumers have their valued items insured, even though they are safely stored in a bank deposit box as the bank can legally not be held responsible for the damages or loss if the client signed the disclaimer.
“As the FNB case is a very unusual event, each insurance provider would have dealt with the claims differently. It is advised that consumers speak to their broker for advice on how their insurance company will handle a similar situation,” concludes Loots.