Do You Need Insurance for a Storage Unit?

Yes, at nearly every storage facility across the country, you’ll need “tenant insurance” before signing a contract and moving in.

That said, it’s a common industry tactic to postpone telling customers about this requirement until late in the process.

Take it from me; it’s maddening to discover that the total cost of your storage unit (including the required insurance) will be significantly higher than the price they told you.

And not surprisingly, storage companies almost always sell the very insurance you need through their “in-house” insurance provider.

You may be able to opt for additional coverage through a third-party insurer, but it’s a lot of extra work, which is why most customers settle for the company’s plan.

Is it a scam?

Kind of, but there’s really no way around it.

If you’re considering storage, here are some other links that might be helpful:

  • Top Moving Container Companies: If you need storage for a longer period of time or want to transport your items, consider a moving container.
  • Storage Units vs. Moving Containers: Unsure if you need a storage unit or container? Learn the difference between the two.
  • Moving Cost Calculator: If you’re moving soon and want to find out the best options for moving, storing or transporting your items, get a free cost breakdown of your options based on the date of your move.

How much does self-storage insurance cost?

Storage unit insurance is relatively inexpensive, but coverage is often iffy, and costs add up fast with long-term storage.

Most storage company policies cost between $1 and $2 for each $100 of purchased coverage.

In other words –

  • $2,000 policies generally cost between $20 and $40 per month
  • $5,000 policies generally cost between $50 and $100 per month

Insider’s Tip

Storage insurance policies are chockfull of restrictions, exclusions, and limitations, so read the fine print carefully before signing a contract.

Why is self-storage unit insurance mandatory?

Storage insurance is important for the same reasons homeowners insurance and renter’s insurance policies are.

They protect you if your items are damaged, destroyed, or stolen while being stored.

Each year self-storage companies pay huge insurance premiums, and as a whole, the industry passes those costs along to their customers.

In many cases, it’s not just company policies that mandate tenant insurance, but state and federal laws too, particularly in areas prone to storms and natural disasters.

Though insurance may sound like just another unnecessary expense, remember…you can’t rent a storage unit without it.

If you opt to buy your storage coverage elsewhere, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance in writing.

What kind of insurance do you need for a storage unit?

Storage policies purchased directly from the company generally have insurance coverage limits between $2,500 and $5,000.

But for most families, these numbers are far less than the actual value of their household goods and personal items, in which case purchasing supplemental coverage is a good idea.

Plans from independent insurers are often cheaper and range between $10,000 and $20,000, though you can purchase higher levels of coverage.

Insider’s Tip

Always check with your existing renter’s insurance or homeowners policy provider first, as they may cover your personal property during storage. If not, you can probably purchase an inexpensive “rider” to include storage for a set term.

What does a storage insurance policy cover?

Coverage varies between companies and geographic regions, so getting a written copy of the policy from prospective companies is imperative.

Generally, most storage policies cover customer’s personal belongings from multiple kinds of loss or damage, including –

  • Fire and smoke
  • Explosions
  • Tornados, hurricanes, and other extreme weather
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Hail
  • Lightning strikes
  • Leaking water damage

Did You Know?

Most storage insurance policies don’t specifically cover floods, though you can always purchase additional flood insurance. Likewise, many don’t cover loss or damage caused by unforeseen social upheavals like riots and looting.

What doesn’t storage unit insurance cover?

Most standard storage policies don’t cover your items in the event of –

  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Mudslides
  • Riots, looting, wars, and other civil unrest

Consider purchasing additional insurance for natural disasters if you live in an area where these things are more likely to happen.

It is also worth noting that certain items such as furs, jewelry, artwork, antiques, bonds, and securities may not be covered.

They’re generally considered “specialty” or high-value items and more expensive (or impossible) to replace.

Understanding Self-Storage Insurance Policies – Read the Fine Print

If you opt to buy tenant insurance from a self-storage facility, they will add additional charges to your monthly bill.

However, it’s ultimately your responsibility to understand the policy’s terms and conditions, so take the time to read it thoroughly and ask for clarification if you have any questions.

When reviewing the company’s policy, consider –

1. Coverage limit

Your coverage limit is the maximum amount the policy will pay out after a claim.

If your items are more valuable than your coverage limit, you should consider purchasing additional insurance coverage.

2. Cash value

Most storage insurance policies cover the cash value of losses, which are usually based on your property’s present or depreciated value.

Please note that cash value isn’t the same as replacement cost, which would reimburse you for the actual cost of replacing your items with identical or similar new ones.

3. Exclusions

Exclusions are items or specific events that the tenant insurance policy won’t cover.

Read carefully, because you’ll probably be surprised to discover what isn’t covered.

4. Liability coverage

Liability insurance covers you or others if there’s an accident and someone gets hurt inside your unit.

Storage Company Insurance vs. Third-Party Insurance

For ease and convenience, there’s no beating insurance from the storage company.

However, there’s much to think about before deciding which option makes the most sense for you.

Consider –

Is it required?

We’ve already established that storage insurance is almost always mandatory.

But remember, it should be a huge red flag if the company makes it difficult to use outside insurance.

If that’s the case, chances are you’ll pay too much and get lousy service, especially if you need to file a claim later on.

Which option has better coverage and better prices?

Storage companies know that most customers will use their insurance, and as such, they don’t have much incentive to make it particularly affordable or comprehensive.

In other words, outside insurance is often a better option for several reasons.

Always start by calling your current insurance company, explaining your situation, and seeing what they suggest.

Is it adequate?

There’s no way to know what’s actually in a storage policy until you read it.

Don’t fall for the old line, “don’t worry, you’re covered.”

The truth is, insurance policies only cover things that they list in the fine print, and in many cases, the coverage is much less than what people assume it is.

Sometimes storage insurance policies leave out important aspects of coverage, like when items mysteriously disappear or are damaged by rodents.

If the details of your plan seem less than adequate, they probably are.

If so, you won’t find out until it’s too late, so spend ample time reviewing policies on the front end.

What else should I know about storage unit insurance?

Even though you’ve paid good money for it, the last thing you want is actually to have to use your insurance policy.

In fact, top-notch storage facilities bend over backward to make sure their customers never have to file insurance claims.

Besides considering location, price, and available insurance options, take some time to visit each prospective storage facility in person.

When you do, look out for –

Security

Modern storage facilities should have –

  • Tall fences
  • Ample security cameras
  • Staff onsite around the clock
  • Keypad (keyless) entry
  • Well-lit parking spaces near the office away from dark areas

Another scam that some storage facilities run requires customers to use (buy) one of the locks they sell.

Of course, they’re not cheap, and in many cases, aren’t as strong as the ones you can find at local hardware stores.

Climate control

Many storage customers don’t need climate-controlled units, but extreme temperatures and big swings in humidity can damage everything from furniture and mattresses to electronics and appliances.

For some, the additional cost for a climate-controlled unit is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Cleanliness

Every storage company puts great pictures up on its website, but things may look very different in reality.

That’s why it’s so important to visit each prospective storage facility in person.

It’s usually evident within the first few minutes whether the staff takes pride in cleanliness and neatness.

If things look shabby, dirty, and infested with pests and vermin, it’s wise to cross that facility off your list and move on to greener pastures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you have to have insurance at Public Storage?

According to their website, they require insurance before storing your items at Public Storage. In addition, they offer customized insurance policies through their Orange Door Storage Insurance Program.

Should I insure my storage unit?

Yes, not only should you, but you’ll probably have to.

What happens if I don’t have insurance for a storage unit?

If you don’t have or aren’t willing to buy the insurance, you probably won’t be able to rent a storage unit. In addition, if you’ve purchased a storage policy from a third-party insurer and it lapses, you’re required to inform storage facility management.

What is the best insurance for storage units?

The insurance offered by storage companies is often the most convenient, but it may not be the cheapest or provide the best coverage, in which cases private insurance may be better.

What is the average price for storage insurance?

Depending on what level of coverage you purchase, the monthly cost for storage insurance generally ranges between $20 and $100.

Will my self-storage facility cover collectibles?

Since each self-storage policies vary, it’s a good idea to ask specifically. Better yet, contact your insurance agent and ask if your current policy covers high-value items like collectibles.

Do storage insurance policies have deductibles?

Many do, and you may be able to choose from multiple deductible options to reduce your monthly premium.

Will my storage rental agreement list the insurance terms?

The company’s policy terms may either be listed on the rental agreement or on a separate form.

Will my storage insurance cover me for things like mildew and insect and vermin infestation?

Generally, these types of damage aren’t covered, but it’s a question worth asking during the vetting process.

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