Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Storage Units?
A storage unit can be a lifesaver when you’re moving, downsizing or just decluttering your home. It’s a huge relief to have someplace to store the things you don’t need right now until you finally have the time to decide what to do with them.
You don’t want to just stow your belongings, though. You want to safeguard them.
Most standard homeowners insurance policies include personal property coverage, which pays to repair or replace the things in your home if they’re destroyed, damaged or stolen due to a covered loss. The coverage limit is usually 50% to 70% of the policy’s dwelling coverage.
Your policy may also include off-premises coverage, which offers the same protection to the stuff you have in a storage unit. Be aware, however, that many policies have lower limits for belongings located away from your home.
Both coverages include furniture, clothing, appliances, credit cards, electronics, artwork, jewelry, bikes and more – which may have their own limits.
What perils are typically covered or excluded?
Off-premises coverage means your possessions are protected against fire, theft and vandalism, wind, hurricane, tornado, water damage, hail, lightning and smoke.
On the other hand, you might not be covered for flooding, mold and mildew, rodent infestations, an earthquake or war.
Before moving anything to a self-storage unit, review your policy or check with your insurer to confirm what types of risks it covers.
How much coverage should I have to protect my belongings in a storage unit?
Off-premises coverage can be up to 10% of your personal property limit. So, if your policy provides $50,000 of personal property coverage, you would be insured up to $5,000, minus the deductible, for the items in your storage unit.
If you plan to store valuables like family heirlooms, art, antiques, jewelry or furs in an off-site unit, you should add an endorsement to your homeowners policy for these items. This way, the property isn’t subject to the 10% limit and will be covered fully up to the limit stated on the endorsement.
Try not to store irreplaceable items away from home, if possible. Sure, insurance may reimburse you for the cost of damaged items, depending on applicable limits − but it can’t cover the sentimental value.
Your first step in deciding how much coverage you need is to create an inventory of everything you plan to store, just as you would for everything in your home. This will also help you get your insurance claim settled faster if you do have a loss. List everything, and document each item with photos or video, as well as detailed descriptions that include purchase date, original price or appraised value, and serial numbers (if they exist). Update this inventory every time you add or remove something from the unit.
Does renters insurance cover storage units?
Yes. Insurance for personal property in commercial storage units is typically included in most renters insurance policies. Remember that you won’t have as much coverage for stolen or damaged items as you would if the covered loss happened at your home.
Is insurance for storage units required?
Many storage facilities require you to have some type of insurance to rent a unit, and you may need to provide a copy of your policy as proof before you sign a contract.
Storage companies also often offer customers their own policies, but this coverage usually has a lower maximum than your homeowners or renters insurance. Say your own policy has an off-premises coverage limit of $10,000, the storage facility’s insurance might cover only up to $5,000.
In addition, these policies often have a long list of exclusions. For example, they generally don’t cover motor vehicles or high-value items. Some types of water, flood, earthquake and smoke damage may also be excluded. Since these are the most common threats to your belongings, you could end up with a financial loss.
Who is responsible if a storage unit gets broken into?
That would be you. Most self-storage leases have a clause in them stating that the facility insures its own building(s) only, not your contents − which is why they require insurance. As long as the storage company provides reasonable security and it functions properly, it isn’t generally responsible for theft or vandalism by third parties.
How do I protect my belongings in storage?
Choosing the right self-storage facility is as important to protecting the things you store there as having the right insurance coverage. If you can shop around, select a facility based not just on convenience, but safety.
- Look for a well-maintained facility with climate-controlled units. If you’re able to control your unit’s temperature yourself, it may be worth paying a little more to have your own thermostat − particularly in humid areas.
- Security should include digital surveillance and unique access codes at gates and doors.
- There should be cameras strategically placed throughout the facility, not just at the entrance.
- Check the unit you’ll be using to ensure water can’t get in.
- Confirm that facility employees do daily checks to ensure your unit is properly locked, and they’ll call you when it isn’t. They shouldn’t have a key to your unit unless you authorize it.
Once you narrow down your choices, check each company’s background and history, as well as customer ratings, reviews and complaints. In addition, try to find out how they handle damages and losses, and whether any complaints have been resolved.
Finally, take these steps to protect your property while it’s in storage.
- Choose an indoor unit. A unit inside a building is generally safer than an outdoor storage unit.
- Bring your own lock. Choose a disc or cylinder lock that’s resistant to bolt cutters.
- Never give out your code or key, or tell anyone what you’re storing.
You want the peace of mind of knowing your stuff is protected whether at home or away. Amica representatives are standing by to help you with the right insurance for storage unit contents.