When you rent a unit from a storage facility, you should have some sort of coverage to protect your belongings. In some cases, you're even required to have it. If you already have a renters insurance policy, you can use that to provide some limited coverage of your stored possessions. There are, however, other options. A popular one is self-storage insurance. We'll explain how they both work.
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Does renters insurance cover storage units?
Renters insurance provides coverage for your belongings kept in a storage facility. However, there are limits. Most renters insurance policies have a maximum limit, usually 10% of your policy's personal property coverage. This means that if your renters insurance policy has a limit of $50,000 for personal property, you'll probably only get $5,000 of coverage for your belongings in a storage unit. Homeowners insurance policies have similar limitations for self-storage coverage.
Under your renters insurance policy, your belongings will be covered against the same perils your stuff in your rental home are insured against, such as fire and theft. By the same token, damage exclusions such as mold, flood and vermin are not covered in your storage unit as well.
The actual payout you get after a claim filed for damaged or destroyed personal property in your storage unit depends on whether your policy pays out at replacement cost or actual cash value.
Replacement cost policies replace damaged or destroyed items regardless of the cost to do so. Actual cash value, or "ACV," policies pay out what the item is worth after depreciation due to age is calculated in.
To make the claim process go smoothly, you should create an inventory list of the belongings you have in storage. Include the make, model and cost of each item when you can. This will make filing a claim easier, as well as possibly speeding up the payout.
Options for covering belongings in a self-storage unit
A common alternative to renters insurance coverage for a storage unit are protection plans and self-storage insurance. Storage facilities often offer inexpensive protection plans against theft or damage to your belongings stored in the unit. However, these plans usually do not cover as much or as well as insurance offered by regulated insurance companies.
Self-storage insurance is often the better option if you don't want to rely on your renters insurance coverage. You can get a self-storage insurance policy through a licensed insurance company that provides them.
Here is an overview of the usual policy point differences between a renters insurance policy and a self-storage insurance policy:
Getting belongings in a storage unit covered with renters insurance comes at no extra cost. It's part of your renters insurance policy. Self-storage insurance typically costs between $15 and $60 a month.
A renters insurance policy usually covers personal property in a storage unit at 10% of your policy's personal property limit. Self-storage insurance policies have more flexible coverage limits, usually ranging from $2,000 to $25,000.
With renters insurance, the deductible you pay when filing a storage unit claim is the same as when you file a claim for your rental unit, most commonly $500 or $1,000 as noted in your policy. Self-storage insurance deductibles usually range from $100 to $500 depending on the company you use and your coverage limit.
Renters insurance often excludes perils such as flood, mold and rodent damage. Some companies offering self-storage insurance also provide coverage for these and similar perils.
Is storage insurance required?
Many self-storage facilities require you to have insurance of some sort as part of their rental agreement. They may request to see the declarations page from your renters or self-storage insurance policy before renting you a unit. They normally allow for both hardcopy or digital proof of coverage.
If you do not currently have coverage, storage facilities will often provide the option to buy their protection plan, as self-storage insurance can only be offered by a licensed insurance provider.
When looking for self-storage insurance, look for an insurer with good financial strength from AM Best and excellent customer satisfaction trends from the Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot.
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Who is responsible if someone breaks into my storage unit?
You bear the ultimate responsibility if your belongings are stolen or damaged in your storage unit. Rental unit facility agreements commonly state that they are not in any way responsible for your property. These facilities carry insurance, but it's limited to damage to the building itself and their liability.
While having storage unit insurance of some sort is an excellent form of protection, picking the right storage facility should be a focus as well. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following when choosing a storage facility:
- Find out about facility security: Make sure the facility has a fenced perimeter. Also, look for constant video surveillance and controlled access.
- Is there climate control?: Extreme high temperatures and humidity can damage some items, as well as lead to mold or fungus that may be excluded from your coverage. Also find out how the facility protects units if it's someplace prone to flooding.
- Cleanliness matters: A poorly maintained storage complex is attractive to vermin. Give the place a walk around before renting a unit to make sure it's well kept and free of rodents. Also, find out if they have ongoing pest management.
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