Storage Unit Insurance: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Think about how much stuff you have. Now think about how much space it takes up. Whether you’re moving, renovating, or just clearing some space in your home, renting a storage unit can make it easier to hang on to sentimental or expensive items without giving up a spare bedroom, valuable garage space, or other areas in your home.

Storage unit insurance protects your items while they’re in storage. Anything can happen, and if you’ve already gone through the effort of hauling and holding on to these items, you’d likely care a lot if they were lost, vandalized, or otherwise damaged.

The best self-storage companies may offer you insurance directly, but it pays to do your research. In this article, we’ll describe what storage insurance is, how it works, when it’s necessary, and how to find the best coverage for your unique needs.

What is storage unit insurance?

Storage unit insurance is a type of coverage that protects you when your valuable items don’t have a place in your home. Homeowners and renters insurance cover many of your items and structures when damaged due to a perilous event, but they don’t offer much off-premises coverage.

We recommend checking your homeowners insurance policy terms and evaluating your personal property coverage limits. If your home insurance policy doesn’t have enough coverage to reduce the financial and emotional burden of replacing the items in storage, you should consider additional coverage.

Self-storage facilities generally require their customers to purchase self-storage insurance when you rent a storage unit so the company doesn’t have much liability if you misstep while packing your unit.

What storage unit insurance covers

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, windstorms, and other extreme weather
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Hail
  • Lightning strikes
  • Falling objects
  • Some 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 storage unit insurance doesn’t cover

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

  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Mudslides
  • Riots, looting, wars, and other civil unrest
  • Mold and mildew
  • Insufficient maintenance
  • Pest damage
  • Intentional damage

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 the typical policy may not cover certain items, such as furs, jewelry, artwork, antiques, bonds, and securities. They’re generally considered “specialty” or high-value items and more expensive (or impossible) to replace.

Where to buy storage unit insurance

Many self-storage companies will display your coverage options when you request a quote, but it’s not your only option. Let’s take a look at a few different ways you can purchase storage unit insurance.

Add it to your reservation

You can request an insurance quote when you book your reservation at your chosen storage facility. If the price and terms are right, you may end up paying just a small additional fee each month for your protection.

Add it to your renters or homeowners insurance policy

If you already have an existing insurance policy, you may be able to add off-premises coverage when you have your items in storage. If you neglect to add this endorsement and your items are damaged, you may be limited to 10% of your dwelling coverage when you file a claim.

Investigate third-party options

If you’re trying to cover all your bases before purchasing storage unit insurance, you can also look into third-party insurance. Companies like SafeStor and MiniCo specialize in storage unit insurance can allow you to cover your expensive items while they’re in storage without adding to your claim record down the line.

Storage company insurance vs. third-party insurance

There’s no beating insurance from the storage company for ease and convenience.

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

Is it required?

While you most likely need insurance using a self-storage facility, 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.

Which option has better coverage and better prices?

Storage companies know that most customers will use their insurance, so 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, but mostly, it gives you autonomy to evaluate your policy terms without the filter of the storage company.

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.” Be your own advocate.

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 people assume. To mitigate any confusion around your policy terms, make sure you read it thoroughly and compare it to other policies.

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.

Understanding storage company insurance

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 the following:

  • Coverage limit: Your coverage limit is the maximum amount the policy will pay after a claim. Consider purchasing additional insurance coverage if your items are more valuable than your coverage limit.
  • 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.
  • Exclusions: Exclusions are items or specific events the tenant insurance policy won’t cover. Read carefully, because you’ll probably be surprised to discover what isn’t covered.
  • Liability coverage: Liability insurance covers you or others if there’s an accident and someone gets hurt inside your unit. You generally only need this kind of coverage if you or your employees are often in and out of the unit.

Storage unit 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 $0.50 and $2 for each $100 of purchased coverage.

In other words:

  • $2,000 policies generally cost between $10 and $40 per month
  • $5,000 policies generally cost between $25 and $100 per month

Insider’s tip

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

How to pick the best storage unit facility

If you can, vet the actual facility. Besides considering location, price, and available insurance options, take some time to visit each prospective storage facility in person.

The last thing you want is actually to have to use your insurance policy. It should provide peace of mind if something happens, but you generally want to be thoughtful enough to minimize your risk altogether.

Choosing a top-notch storage facility safeguards your items from potential hazards. Pay extra attention to the following:

  • Security protocols: Confirm that the storage facility has ample cameras, onsite security staff, and other security features to protect your belongings when you’re not there.
  • Climate control: Climate control is non-negotiable if you live in an area with extreme temperature fluctuations. Many facilities offer climate-controlled storage for a small additional fee that’s worth the additional peace of mind that your items are safe from mildew, mold, and other elements.
  • Cleanliness: Ask to tour the facility if you can. The best storage facilities will have a janitorial staff or regular cleanings to protect against pests, vermin, and other storage hazards.

FAQs about storage unit insurance

Do all storage locations require insurance?

Most storage locations require insurance, but there are a few exceptions. Storage unit insurance requirements may vary based on the type of unit you rent. You don’t have to purchase insurance from the storage company, so don’t be afraid to look at other options.

Does storage unit insurance cover theft?

Yes, storage unit insurance covers theft. You may also want to check with your homeowners or renters insurance company. Often, personal property insurance covers items in a storage unit under off-premises coverage.

What is the risk of theft in a storage unit?

The risk of theft in a storage unit isn’t zero, but you can reduce its likelihood by visiting your storage unit often, purchasing one of the best locks for storage units, keeping an inventory of your items, avoiding valuable items, and storing them at a reputable facility that takes sufficient security measures.

What is the average cost of storage unit insurance?

The average cost of storage unit insurance ranges from $0.50–$2 per $100 of coverage. If you have a lot of expensive items, you may have to budget for higher premiums.

Do storage unit insurance policies have deductibles?

Yes, storage unit insurance policies often have deductibles when you file an insurance claim. Review your renters and homeowners insurance policies to confirm your deductible there and confirm it against your storage unit insurance’s deductible. You should file with the insurance provider that offers the most favorable terms and coverage options.

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