Did You Know You Need to Insure the Stuff in Your Storage Unit?

by Leigh A. Morgan
Full length side view at handsome bearded man loading cart with cardboard boxes into self storage unit, copy space

Whether you have a collection of antique cookie jars or just need a place to store some furniture before a big move, a storage unit may be the answer.

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Once you secure a unit, it's important to protect the items inside. Although storage facilities usually have cameras, alarms and other types of security, there's always a chance someone will break in. Items may also be damaged due to heavy winds and other environmental problems. Learn how storage insurance protects you against devastating losses.

What Is Storage Insurance?

Storage unit insurance is a type of insurance policy designed to protect you from financial losses associated with theft, vandalism and certain types of accidents. If you experience a covered loss, your insurance company will pay to repair or replace the affected items.

Each policy has a coverage limit, which is the maximum amount of money your insurer is willing to pay after a covered loss. Your policy may also have item limits, which limit the amount of money you receive for items in certain categories. For example, a policy may cover no more than $1,500 worth of jewelry or $1,000 in original artwork.

Note that this type of insurance only covers the items you keep in your storage unit. If someone steals something from your business, you'll have to file a commercial property insurance claim. Damage that occurs in an auto accident may be covered by your auto insurance policy.

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What Does It Cover?

Storage insurance covers vandalism, theft and several types of accidental damage. Here are a few examples:

  • Fires: No matter how careful you are, there's a chance that some of your belongings could be damaged by a fire at the storage facility. For example, if there's a faulty wire, it could spark, causing clothing or area rugs to catch fire. It's also possible for lightning to strike the facility, causing nearby trees to go up in flames. If the fire spreads to your unit, some of your belongings may be damaged beyond repair.
  • Falling objects: Imagine that your storage unit sits next to a tall building. One day, the building owner decides to cut down a rotting tree branch. Unfortunately, they try to do it themselves instead of hiring an experienced professional. The tree branch falls through the roof of your storage unit, damaging some of the items inside. Your insurance company may pay to repair or replace those items.
  • Wind damage: Strong winds can wreak havoc on sheds, storage units and other structures. If heavy winds blow through your area, your storage insurance policy may cover any damage that occurs.
  • Heavy snow/ice: If snow and ice build up on the top of your storage unit, they may cause the roof to buckle, causing major damage to the items inside. Your storage insurance policy protects you from this type of damage.

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Do You Need to Have Storage Insurance for a Storage Unit?

Many storage facilities require their customers to maintain storage insurance. If you don't have your own policy, you may be able to buy coverage from a storage provider.

Does Homeowners or Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?

Yes, homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover storage units. If you have homeowners insurance, the "off-premises" portion of your policy should cover stored items. Renters insurance should provide the same type of protection. Keep in mind that the limits on storage coverage may be different than the limits on your homeowners or renters policy. If you're not absolutely sure what's covered, contact your insurance agent and ask them to review the policy with you.

How Much Storage Insurance Do I Need?

It all depends on the value of the items in your storage unit. If you have a few pieces of outdated furniture, you may only need a few hundred dollars of coverage. You'll need additional coverage if you're using the unit to store jewelry, artwork, designer clothing or other expensive items.

Remember that your policy may limit the amount of money paid out for claims related to certain types of property. Even if you have $10,000 in coverage or more, you may not be able to recover enough to make up for a major loss.

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