Whether you're moving or decluttering your house, self-storage units are becoming common for many Americans. Learn how to protect the belongings in your storage unit.
According to the Self Storage Association, one out of every 10 households in America rents a storage unit.
If you are one of the 10.8 million Americans who uses a storage facility, make sure that you’re properly protecting your belongings. After all, storage facilities do not automatically take responsibility for damages. This is where insurance comes in to play.
Companies will often make consumers get insurance before they can rent a unit. Renters generally need enough coverage to replace all of their items.
The storage facility will likely try to sell you insurance directly. But don't be fooled into thinking you have to buy it from them. You can show proof of pre-existing insurance coverage or purchase coverage from an insurance company.
So do you already have insurance? Customers who have homeowners or renters policies are usually covered for property kept off site.
Don't have home insurance? Let QuoteWizard help you find the most affordable rates.
If you are insured, bring proof of coverage to the facility. This way you can avoid buying coverage you don’t need.
A company may also limit the value of items stored. This is often determined by the size of the unit and your rent. Some businesses will allow you to store items beyond this value.
Customers should talk with their personal insurance company to find out the extent of their homeowners policy.
Your insurer may be able to help you get around buying insurance from the storage company. Your insurance company may:
To figure out the value of your possessions, try making an inventory list. This is similar to one you might have made for your home or apartment. Renters should also take photos of their belongings. It will be useful if damage does occur.
Another reason you might want a self-storage policy?
Alexander Harris, Editor in Chief of SpareFoot Blog, points out that storage insurance does not have a deductible, while home insurance does. In addition, getting separate storage coverage guarantees your home insurance rates will not go up if you do file a claim.
But, unlike homeowners insurance, self-storage coverage is not regulated by state insurance departments.
Renters will usually have up to three options when deciding where to buy insurance. They could get it from:
Coverage bought directly from the facility covers less than insurance from an independent self-storage insurer. An independent company might offer a policy for over $20,000. Meanwhile, a storage facility may only sell $5,000 worth of coverage.
Always check with your home insurer to see if they also offer self storage coverage for a lower rate.
If your possessions are worth more than 10 percent of your homeowners policy limit, look into buying self-storage insurance. It can cost as little as $6 a month.
Harris notes that most facilities offer a specific policy onsite. Keep in mind, policy coverage varies. A higher rate may mean increased protection.
For example, according to Jared Beckstead, Marketing Coordinator for Bailey's Moving & Storage, Bailey's offers customers an all-inclusive policy. Their self-storage option through SMARTBOX offers insurance for $35 a month. It covers damages for anything that could happen.
Harris suggests looking into outside insurers to find the best price.
Self-storage policies typically don't cover damages resulting from:
People who buy insurance for their storage unit will have protection from:
Again, there are always exceptions. Be sure to read over the policy carefully or talk to your agent. Separate flood insurance is another way to add more protection.
Self-storage coverage places limits on many items. For instance, renters who wish to store their car, motorcycle, or ATV will have to insure those items separately. Other things may only be covered up to a specific dollar amount, or not covered at all.
These items include:
Similarly, some belongings have limited coverage under home insurance. Jewelry is often only covered up to $1,500.
To protect these special goods, consider buying a rider or endorsement. Riders (also called floaters) will give extra coverage to protect your item's full value. You may need to get the item appraised to get a floater. This way you have proof of its value.
Self-storage insurance might be a good idea if you want to add extra protection. It may cover damages not included in your standard homeowners policy.
But in general, if someone already has home insurance—and is not storing possessions worth more than 10 percent of their policy—further insurance is unnecessary. If your items are worth more, consider getting storage unit insurance.
And if you don't have a homeowners or renter's policy?
"You should probably just buy self-storage insurance because it is specifically tailored to the hazards you might encounter while storing your items and filing a claim will be less complex," Harris said. "It is also likely cheaper than renters insurance."
Still, homeowners insurance might end up being the better deal. It may cost more, but your policy protects items inside your house as well as your storage unit. If you only want to meet the storage company's requirements though, only buying storage facility insurance is best.
There are, of course, special cases. Read your policy carefully to see if any items are not insured.
As explained, some items have a dollar limit on how much they can be insured. In this case, you may want to buy a floater.
Ultimately, whether you buy self-storage insurance or not is a personal choice based on your comfort level.
A: According to Harris, the most common problems are theft and water damage. Water damage is more likely to happen in older, neglected buildings. Harris suggests looking for a newer multi-level facility to lower the likelihood of damage.
To prevent theft, make sure the storage company provides safety features. These could include:
Beckstead notes that damages are often caused by the renter themselves. The renter may lack experience, and pack their belongings badly. According to Beckstead, vermin and fire are uncommon.
A: When looking for a storage unit, take note of the following:
A: Anything you want to give extra protection to would best be placed in a climate controlled unit. Other belongings you might want to put in a humidity controlled storage facility include:
A: Items that could start a fire are best not kept in a storage facility.
Most facilities will not let you store:
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