Do You Have Insurance...On Your Storage Unit?

The Self Storage Association notes that one out of every 10
households in the U.S. currently rents some kind of storage unit, including
portable on demand storage (PODS). If you’re one of the 10 percent, are you
insuring your unit?

Whether you are downsizing to a smaller home,
safeguarding heirlooms after a death in the family or just cannot let go of
those old mementos, storage units can provide a useful solution for dealing with
extra belongings. While storage units may be the answer to de-cluttering your
home, adequate insurance coverage is the answer to protecting your belongings,
according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

"If an item is
valuable enough that you are willing to pay for storing it, the item should be
financially protected with the proper amount and type of insurance," says
Loretta Worters, vice president for the I.I.I. "Even in the best managed storage
facilities, theft, fire and other disasters can and do occur. That's why before
signing a rental agreement, it is important to find out what types of losses
will be covered by the storage facility and whether supplemental insurance may
be needed."

Most storage facilities require that you maintain insurance
for the full replacement cost of the contents of your storage room and ask to
see a copy of your homeowners or renters policy. One way to satisfy your
insurance obligation is by purchasing insurance through the storage facility.
However, most storage facilities limit the value of property that can be stored
in a unit, basing it on the size and the amount of your rent (usually up to
about $20,000). If your property is worth more than the assigned amount, some
storage facilities will allow you to increase the assigned value of the property
in your unit. There are also exclusions including art, antiques, jewelry, furs,
watches, money, securities and other documents of value. Be sure to check your
homeowners or renters insurance policies first to determine whether your
contents may already be covered.

Standard homeowners and renters
insurance policies that include off-premises protection provide coverage for
property in storage facilities from theft and damage from fires, tornadoes and
other disasters listed in the policy. Much like storage facility insurance,
homeowners and renters policies do not cover damage caused by flooding,
earthquakes, mold and mildew, vermin or poor maintenance. Some insurers may
limit the off-premises coverage for personal possessions to 10 percent of the
overall amount of homeowners insurance you have. Other insurers may offer higher
coverage limits for personal possessions stored off-premises, so check with your
insurance agent or company representative before renting a storage unit. Also
keep in mind that insurance through your home or renters policy will be more
comprehensive than storage facility insurance and is regulated by your state
insurance department.

If you intend to store valuable property such as
art, antiques, jewelry or furs, there may be dollar restrictions under your
standard homeowners or renters insurance policy for theft. Ask your insurance
professional about adding a floater or endorsement to your policy in order to
fully cover these items. There are also specialized storage facilities available
for these types of items, as they often need to be kept at specific temperature
and humidity levels. Small items such as jewelry can also be kept in a bank safe
deposit box; insurers will generally charge less to cover an item stored at a

One of the best ways to substantiate the value of your personal
property is to create a detailed home inventory of all your possessions,
including those in storage. If your property is stolen or damaged, an inventory
can help speed the claims process and substantiate your loss. It will also help
you determine how much insurance to buy to adequately protect your

The I.I.I. offers the following tips for choosing a storage