When you place items in a third-party storage unit, your expectation is that those items will be kept safe.
Certainly, there are steps that storage facilities can take to safeguard your items. For example, they can put appropriate security measures in place, and do their part to mediate problems such as moisture, mold, and pests.
And, there are steps you can take to prevent damage to your belongings. You can be careful about what you store, and how you pack different items into your storage unit.
Even so, accidents can happen, and it’s possible that your belongings get damaged or stolen, even in the safest and most secure of storage units.
This raises an important question: Does homeowners insurance cover items that you store off premises? That is, does your insurance policy cover belongings in a storage unit?
That’s the question that’s before us today.
Understanding Your Insurance Policy
Of course, it’s important to preface all of this by noting that every insurance policy is created different. What’s true with one insurance company, or with one policy, may not be true for others. So, while we can make some general points here, it’s always best to double check with your own homeowners insurance coverage.
With that caveat out of the way, here’s a general point about homeowners insurance: Most policies include what’s known as personal property coverage. This coverage is designed to protect your belongings, which might encompass electronics, appliances, home furnishings, clothing, and more. Personal property coverage protects these items from certain risks, up to the coverage limits of the policy. Most of the time, personal property coverage will protect items even when they are stored somewhere other than your home… including in external storage units.
In other words, if you store belongings in a storage unit, and if those items are damaged for any reason, you may have cause to reach out to your insurance company for help… but wait! There are a few complexities of homeowners insurance that are important to note.
A Closer Look at Your Off Premises Coverage
Here’s what homeowners should know: The insurance coverage that protects your belongings in a storage unit is usually considered to be “off premises” coverage. This coverage will offer you some protections, but there are also limits. Off premises coverage will usually protect your items against such perils as vandalism, theft, lightning, and fire. For a complete list of what is and what isn’t included in your off premises coverage, it’s best to review the details of your policy. Reach out to your insurance company if you have questions.
Also take note that personal property coverage usually has a limit. This limit represents the maximum amount that your insurance company is willing to pay in order to help you repair or replace an item that’s covered under the policy. Most of the time, the coverage limit here is about 50 percent of the total dwelling coverage… though once again, you’ll want to make sure to check the fine print of your homeowners insurance policy.
Complicating all of this is the fact that a typical homeowners insurance plan will lower the coverage limit for items that are stored outside of your home. So, your policy may cover items up to a certain amount when they are stored at home, but it will only cover them for a fraction of that amount if you’re using a storage facility.
Additional Points About Storage Insurance
As you consider these different dimensions of storage unit insurance, here are a few additional things to keep in mind:
- Often, you can pay extra to increase your coverage limits, including for belongings that you keep in an external storage facility. This is something you may want to ask your insurance company about.
- You can also specify additional coverage for high-value items, like fine pieces of jewelry or rare works of art. If you keep items like this in a storage unit, increasing your insurance coverage is a really good idea.
- Finally, note that your storage unit company may offer their own storage insurance coverage. This will usually take the form of a very small premium, added onto your month-to-month fees. This additional storage unit policy may be a wise investment, but make sure you verify what is and isn’t included in the coverage. These policies can vary wildly between different storage facilities.
What About Renters Insurance?
If you don’t own your own home but instead rent a home or apartment, you may have a renters insurance plan. As such, you may have questions about coverage for storage units. How do renters policies stack up against more traditional homeowners coverage?
The short answer is that they generally work in much the same way. That is to say, if you keep belongings in a storage unit and those items are damaged, lost, or stolen, then your renters insurance plan may help you recoup some of your losses. However, your insurance probably won’t offer as much coverage for things in a storage unit as they would for things you keep at home.
General Tips for Keeping Your Items Safe and Secure
The bottom line: Homeowners and renters insurance plans can definitely offer some protection, including for items you keep in storage. However, it’s still very much recommended that you do everything in your power to keep your belongings safe and secure.
Some general tips include:
- Before you choose a storage company, ask them what steps they take to keep their premises safe and secure. Specifically ask about locks, security cameras, and other means of preventing property damage and theft.
- Remember that, in storing any item away from home, you’re always taking on some small level of risk… so, for highly valuable items, you may want to consider other storage options.
- One way you can keep your stuff safe is to ensure there is nothing in your unit that is flammable or explosive. Don’t keep gasoline or other fuels in your facility. And, if you keep a vehicle in storage, be certain you don’t leave it with a tank full of gas.
- Along similar lines, it’s a bad idea to store guns or other kinds of weapons on a facility. Most storage companies expressly prohibit these things anyway.
- Avoid storing anything that could lead to mold, mildew, or pests. Specifically, if you store any appliances, take care to drain any water. This is especially important with refrigerators and washing machines.
- Be fastidious in keeping your unit properly locked up at all times.
- Verify the details of your homeowners or renters insurance. Know what your insurance plan does and doesn’t cover, and how much help you can expect for belongings that are kept in a third-party storage area.
- Ask your storage company about any insurance options they offer to their customers.
With these tips, you can hopefully avoid any need for filing a claim with your insurance company.
Learn More About Insurance for Your Stored Belongings
If you have any additional questions about how homeowners insurance or renters insurance will cover the things you keep in storage, or if you want to know about the best practices for safeguarding your possessions, we welcome you to give us a call.
At Smith Valley Storage in Greenwood, Indiana, we’re more than happy to chat with you about the different ways for keeping your things safe.