Most storage facilities require insurance. If you have renters insurance, you already have some coverage for your belongings. This may be all you need, but it’s not your only choice. Here’s how renters insurance works for storage units, and how it compares to other common options.

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How does renters insurance cover property in storage units?

While renters insurance typically offers worldwide coverage for your belongings, it usually caps the coverage on property you keep in a storage unit at 10% of your overall personal property limit.

In other words, if your renters policy has a $50,000 personal property limit, you usually have up to $5,000 in coverage for items kept in a storage unit, though you should check to see if any restrictions apply.

The actual amount you receive from the insurance company depends on whether your policy offers actual cash value or replacement cost coverage. Actual cash value is the depreciated value of your property. Replacement cost coverage, which is more expensive, replaces stolen or destroyed items with new ones.

Insurance companies also require you to document any losses, which is why you should create an inventory of the items you place in storage.

Here are the other key renters insurance limitations to consider for property kept in a storage unit:

  • Your renters policy protects your property from the same perils in storage as it does at home, including fire, theft and wind damage. Since renters insurance normally excludes damage from flood, rodents and most mold and fungus outbreaks, it usually does not protect your property from these risks in storage, either.
  • Renters insurance also places coverage limits on certain valuables, whether in your home, storage or anywhere else. For example, most policies limit the coverage on stolen jewelry, watches and furs to $1,500, sometimes less. If you want to increase your coverage on these or other valuables, you can usually purchase a special rider for them.

Are there alternatives to renters insurance for stored property?

When it comes to insuring stored property, the most common alternatives to renters insurance (or homeowners insurance) are protection plans and self-storage insurance.

Protection plans: Many facilities offer low-cost protection plans that cover theft or damage. These plans are similar to insurance, but they don’t offer as many consumer protections as policies issued by regulated insurance companies.

Self-storage insurance: True self-storage insurance is issued by licensed insurance companies, which are subject to oversight by state regulators.

How is self-storage insurance different from renter’s insurance?

Renters insurance offers multiple benefits that include limited coverage for stored property, while self-storage insurance policies focus solely on stored property.

Self-storage policies often allow you to select higher coverage limits and/or lower deductibles than renters insurance. Some policies include coverage for flood, rodent, mold and/or fungus damage.

Key differences between renters insurance and self-storage insurance for storage units
Policy feature Renters insurance Self-storage insurance
Cost No additional cost to an existing renters policy. Premiums often range from $20 to $50 a month.
Coverage limit Usually 10% of your policy’s personal property limit. Choices can range from $2,000 to $25,000, depending on the company.
Deductible Your policy’s existing deductible, often $500 or $1,000. Usually $100 to $500, depending on the company and your coverage limit.
Flood, rodent, mold and fungus coverage Usually excluded. Available from some companies.

The cost of self-storage insurance is usually reasonable and varies by company and the coverage limit you choose. SnapNsure, for example, offers rates between $15 a month for a $5,000 policy to $60 a month for $25,000 in coverage.

Self-storage policies come with their own sets of limitations, which vary by company. Here are a few examples:

  • SnapNsure limits coverage to $2,000 per item and won’t cover jewelry, furs, firearms and certain other valuables.
  • Storage Protectors’ coverage excludes flood damage.
  • Orange Door provides full coverage for flood damage but limits coverage for vermin or fungus damage to $250. Orange Door is affiliated with Public Storage, which operates thousands of storage facilities across the nation.

Is storage insurance mandatory?

A storage facility can require insurance, and many do.

You usually need to provide proof of insurance when you sign the agreement for your storage unit. The declarations page from your renters or self-storage insurance policy normally does the trick. If you don’t have a printed copy, you can usually find one online by logging on to your account page on your insurance company’s website.

Your facility may provide referrals or even pressure you to purchase their protection plan. However, a staff member at a storage facility can only sell you a self-storage insurance policy if they are a licensed insurance agent.

If you find yourself shopping for self-storage insurance, look for companies with strong financial strength ratings from AM Best and favorable customer service scores from the Better Business Bureau and/or Trustpilot.

Who is responsible if someone breaks into your storage unit?

Ultimately, you are responsible for the property in your storage unit if someone breaks in and steals from it, or if your property is damaged or destroyed in any way.

The agreement you sign for the unit usually states that the facility is not responsible for your property. Though storage facilities carry insurance, their policies usually protect them from things such as damage to their buildings and their own liability.

Purchasing insurance allows you to transfer a good chunk of the financial responsibility for your property to the insurance company. However, you can potentially reduce the risk of bad things happening to your property by choosing a responsibly managed facility.

Here are key things that experts including the Insurance Information Institute recommend that you look for when choosing a storage facility:

  • Security. Perimeter fencing is good, but facilities should also offer around-the-clock video surveillance and controlled access.
  • Climate control. Extreme heat and humidity can damage certain items. In addition to checking on the facility’s temperature and humidity control system, find out if the facility has plans to protect storage units if water levels rise after extreme rain or snowmelt.
  • Cleanliness. A poorly maintained facility is usually more susceptible to pest infestations or mold outbreaks than one that is routinely cleaned and monitored. In addition to inspecting the site, find out if the facility has an ongoing pest-management contract in place.

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