Storage units provide a useful solution for safeguarding extra belongings while you are transitioning from one home to another or undecided about what to keep when downsizing to a smaller home.
However, it's also important to protect your stored possessions from unexpected problems, such as theft, fire or other disasters.
According to the Self Storage Association, a not-for-profit trade organization, one in 10 U.S. households rented a self-storage unit as of 2012. In fact, the number of households utilizing self-storage units has increased 65 percent during the last 15 years. However, what many people may not realize is their possessions could be tucked away uninsured and vulnerable to any number of complications.
Making sure your stored property is insured, as well as taking the time to keep it safe, is essential to avoiding the loss of cherished goods and incurring high replacement costs.
Choose the right facility
Before deciding on a self-storage facility, take the time to inspect it. The Insurance Information Institute (III) suggests you consider the following factors when choosing a storage company:
- Facility security
- Safety of surrounding area
- Climate control options
- Facility-offered coverage
- Storage company reputation
Find out if it has any special features, such as being constructed with fireproof materials. Find out what types of losses will be covered by the storage facility in order to determine what self-storage insurance coverage you need.
While many self-storage facilities offer coverage to their customers, this type of insurance typically features far more restrictions than private insurance policies. For instance, you may be asked to sign an agreement stipulating that no possessions in your unit can exceed a certain monetary value. Additionally, this type of coverage often lacks extra liability protection from events such as natural disasters.
Analyze your coverage
Understanding what type of storage unit insurance coverage you have is vital when it comes to self-storage. While standard homeowner's and renter's insurance policies include off-premises property protection for theft, fires, and other disasters, your belongings may not be completely protected. Damage due to flooding, earthquakes, mold and mildew may not be covered.
Another matter to take into account is what kind of coverage you have. Will you receive cash value for missing or damaged items, or does your policy provide replacement-cost coverage? Make sure you fully understand how your coverage works.
If you plan on storing valuable property or collectables such as art, jewelry, or antiques it is important to determine if there are dollar restrictions in place under your current homeowner's or renter's policy. A floater or endorsement may need to be added to ensure these items are covered in full.
Even if your homeowner's or renter's policy offers some protection for off-property coverage, it may be wise to invest in supplemental self-storage insurance for your unit.
Speak with a HUB broker to find out what kind of coverage you need as well as what type of policy best suits your needs.
Keep a Detailed Inventory
It's also vital to keep a detailed inventory of all possessions in your storage unit. Not only will this help you and your HUB broker decide how much insurance coverage you need, it can greatly speed up the claims process if any of your property is stolen or damaged. There are various web-based home inventory software systems available, such as Know Your Stuff®, that make creating and updating your home inventory easy and efficient.