SEATTLE – Renting a storage unit can be a practical solution if you have extra household or business items to store, but don’t make the mistake of assuming a storage unit facility will automatically insure your belongings.
Few self-storage companies offer full and comprehensive item insurance. Some may provide basic coverage, for theft and fire, but it may not be enough to fully protect your stored items. Also, standard Homeowners, Renters or Business Owners Insurance policies may or may not cover items that are stored away from home and nearly all have limitations on the coverage amount.
"A storage unit is a great solution for getting affordable extra space, said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "We encourage checking to make sure you have enough insurance coverage to protect you and your belongings from a loss."
Policies that include off-premise protection usually cover theft and damage from fires, windstorms and other disasters listed in the policy, while damage from flooding, earthquakes, landslides, mold, mildew, vermin or poor maintenance are excluded. To find out if you are adequately protected, check your current Homeowners or Renters Insurance policy or contact your insurance company.
If your possessions are valuable enough to pay for storage, the NW Insurance Council encourages you to protect those possessions financially by making sure you’re properly insured.
Consider taking these steps to protect and insure your possessions in a storage unit:
- Check your policy and/or talk to your Homeowners Insurance company or agent and ask if items stored in storage units are covered under your current policy.
- Read the storage unit rental agreement carefully to determine if your items will be adequately covered or if additional coverage is necessary.
- Determine the type of insurance you need for your valuables. Personal possessions can be covered on either a replacement cost or depreciated cash value basis.
- If storing high-value items, such as jewelry or antique furniture, make sure the dollar amount of coverage is high enough to cover potential losses.
- Decide if you need additional Flood Insurance. Although your home may not be located on a flood plain, find out if flood waters could affect the storage unit’s location.
- Create an itemized list and take pictures of every item you are storing in the storage unit. You can access free, downloadable Home Inventory Software from NW Insurance Council’s website for convenient documentation of valuables in both your home and storage unit.
In addition, NW Insurance Council and Insurance Information Institute offer the following tips for choosing a storage company:
- Make sure the facility is constructed using fire-resistant materials.
- Find out what security measures are being taken by the storage company. Well run facilities provide electronic gates with coded access, an on-site manager, monitored video surveillance, adequate lighting, individual door alarms and personal locks available for purchase.
- Use a facility that offers climate-controlled space. Climate-controlled units maintain a temperature of 55 to 85 degrees. This feature helps protect stored belongings from extreme temperatures as well as mold and mildew.
- The unit should have roll-up doors that properly close and lock.
- Check that the roof is in good repair with no sign of interior leaks.
- Make sure the facility prohibits the storage of hazardous material.
For more information on Homeowners and Renters Insurance, visit www.nwinsurance.org or call (800) 664-4942.
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.