Many storage facilities are equipped with features like gated access, security cameras and locked units to ensure your belongings are safe. But with these measures in place, is paying for storage unit insurance still necessary or worth the investment? In this article, we’ll answer this question by exploring the benefits of insuring your storage unit, the different types of insurance available and tips for choosing the policy that best suits your needs.
1. Do You Need Insurance for Your Storage Unit?
Storage units, though secure, aren’t immune to unpredictable events like natural disasters (e.g., fires, floods and earthquakes), vandalism or even theft. Though circumstances like these are rare, losing your stored items for any reason can take a toll an emotional and financial toll, especially if these items are one-of-a-kind or have sentimental value.
This is where insurance comes in. Insurance offers financial coverage for your storage unit contents, which can help replace lost items or cover the cost of repair for items that have been damaged. Like other kinds of insurance, you’ll pay a low monthly or annual premium that can secure thousands of dollars worth of coverage for your belongings.
Many people assume that the storage facility’s insurance will cover their stored items, but this isn’t necessarily true. Typically, a storage facility’s insurance only covers the physical building itself, not the contents within individual units. It’s still crucial for unit renters to get their own insurance to protect their items.
|Note: Some storage facilities require renters to have insurance as part of the rental agreement. This is to ensure that both the renter and the facility are protected from potential liabilities. Double-check the terms of your agreement or ask a manager at the storage facility you’re interested in about insurance requirements.
2. What Is Covered (and Not Covered) by Storage Insurance
It’s important to remember that storage unit insurance doesn’t cover every instance of damage to your items. While your coverage may vary depending on your provider and the specific policy, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.
What’s Typically Covered:
- Theft: Most policies cover losses due to burglary or theft. However, proof of forced entry is often required for the claim to be valid.
- Fire Damage: Damage caused by fire, whether originating inside or outside the storage unit, is generally covered. This includes losses due to smoke damage. However, if the fire is the result of any illegally stored flammables in your unit (such as fireworks, gasoline or propane tanks), you won’t be covered.
- Vandalism: Acts of vandalism that result in damage to stored items are usually covered under storage insurance policies.
- Water Damage: This typically includes water damage from leaks or broken pipes within the storage facility, but doesn’t necessarily include flood damage (see below).
- Building Collapse: If the storage facility collapses due to structural issues or covered events like a storm, the insurance might cover the loss of stored items.
What’s Typically Not Covered:
- Flood Damage: Damage caused by flooding isn’t usually covered under standard storage insurance policies. You may need to purchase special flood insurance for this type of coverage.
- Earthquake Damage: Like flood damage, losses due to earthquakes are typically not included in standard policies and require additional coverage.
- Mold and Mildew Damage: If any of your items are damaged by mold or mildew that’s linked to poor ventilation or packing, your insurance policy might not cover it.
- Damage From Poor Packing or Maintenance: Improper packing or neglect that leads to damage isn’t usually covered by insurance.
- Rodent or Vermin Infestations: While some policies may offer coverage for rodent or pest damage, it’s often limited and not a standard feature. This is especially true if you violate storage facility policies and keep perishable foods in your unit.
- High-Value Items: High-value belongings like jewelry, art, antiques or collectibles often require additional coverage. Storage facilities may also request that you not store items over a certain amount unless you have written permission from the facility manager.
3. Types of Insurance for Storage Units
If you already pay for homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, it may cover the contents of your storage unit. Your first step should be to double-check the policy, specifically “off-premises coverage.” If you’re covered, congratulations — you can start moving items into storage! If not, the best next step is to chat with a representative at your insurance company to see how much it would cost to extend storage unit coverage to your existing policy. Sticking with your current provider and simply extending coverage is often more cost-effective than starting a new policy.
On the other hand, if you need to buy self-storage unit insurance, you have two options: insurance provided by a third-party insurance company or insurance provided by the storage facility.
Third-party insurance can give you a wider range of monthly premiums and total coverage amounts, allowing you to find one that suits your specific needs. However, make sure you carefully read the fine print of every policy you vet so you fully understand what’s covered and what’s not.
Some companies, such as SmartStop Self Storage, have select facilities that provide storage unit protection for an additional monthly fee that’s added to your unit rental cost. Ask a manager at your local facility to get more details and explore your options.
|Disclaimer: Tenant protection in the U.S. is equivalent to insurance in Canada.
Tips for Choosing the Right Policy
When you’re selecting an insurance policy for your storage unit, ask the following questions so you understand exactly what kind of coverage you’re getting:
- What’s the value of the items I’m placing in my storage unit?
- What’s the maximum coverage amount of this policy?
- What’s the coverage scope — i.e., what exactly is covered and what isn’t?
- Are there limitations or exclusions in the policy?
- What’s the deductible amount? A higher deductible can lower your premium, but it also means paying more out-of-pocket in the event of a claim.
- Do I need special coverage for valuables like antiques, art or collectibles? If so, have I gotten permission from the storage facility manager to store such items in my unit?
4. Final Thoughts on Storage Insurance
Insurance for storage units can provide a safety net and peace of mind against unexpected loss or damage to your items. Even though natural disasters, theft and vandalism are rare, the cost of insurance is often a small price to pay for the protection and security it offers. As you evaluate your options, remember to thoroughly read and understand the terms of any insurance policy before you commit. If you have any questions or aren’t sure where to start, don’t hesitate to ask the manager at your local SmartStop facility to learn more.