So you’re filling out the lease on your new storage unit when the facility manager asks if you’re interested in self storage insurance. Do you A) Assume it’s a scam B) Sign up for it because it sounds like something a responsible adult would do or C) Make an informed decision?
If you’d like to go with option C but you haven’t quite mastered the “informed” part of informed decision, read on to find out what self storage insurance is and whether or not you need it.
What is Self Storage Insurance?
As the name implies, self storage insurance is an insurance policy that protects the stuff in your storage unit. Many storage facilities require this when you rent with them, while others simply offer it as an add-on. Some storage facilities even include very basic insurance as part of the rental agreement, but this is not very common.
What Are My Options?
If you’re a fan of cutting out the middleman, choose a storage facility that offers insurance. This type of policy is usually very basic. There’s often little to no deductible but rates are higher. This type of self storage insurance will typically cover less than $5,000 worth of stuff and may exclude certain items, like that box of diamonds you’ve been smuggling in your storage unit (Pro tip: Don’t store a box of diamonds in your storage unit.)
If you want more than a basic plan, or your storage facility doesn’t offer insurance, you can go through an insurance agency. This will cover a higher value of items (more than $10,000) at a lower rate per month with a higher deductible. If you’d prefer to go this route, you can try to defray costs by adding self storage insurance to an existing homeowner’s insurance policy rather than purchasing a new one.
How Much Does it Cost?
The cost of your policy will depend on the value of the items you’re insuring. If you’re trying to figure out whether or not you can afford self storage insurance, plan on factoring in $1-$2 per month for every $100 worth of stuff you’re insuring. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $25 a month, but if you decide to splurge for the Cadillac of insurance plans, you’ll be spending more.
What Should I Ask Before Signing?
Don’t cross those t’s and dot those i’s without asking the right questions. Inquire about specific items in your storage unit to make sure they’re covered. Some of your belongings, like that vintage fur coat you’ve been hanging onto, might not be. You should also inquire about specific risks that the policy covers. Think about natural and manmade calamities that happen in the area you’re storing in. Live in an area where earthquakes occur? Make sure your policy covers against earthquake damage. Storing in Tornado Alley? Ask about how your insurance policy handles twisters. Most self storage insurance policies will cover events like fire, pest damage and water damage but may exclude certain natural disasters like floods. Get the information you need regarding your specific concerns before signing.
What Should I Do On My End?
Filing an insurance claim isn’t fun. You’re stressed, you’re dealing with the loss of your belongings and you just want to fast forward to the part where you’re getting a check in the mail from the insurance company.
Should you find yourself in this situation, you’ll be glad that you took the following steps:
Make an inventory of everything in your storage unit. Include photos, description and the value of the item.
Store your stuff the right way. This means choosing climate control if you need it and taking the time to stack boxes with care. Insurance can’t help you if you stored a wedding dress that requires climate control in a non-climate controlled unit or if your wine glasses are broken because you stacked those boxes too high.
Choose a storage facility that’s safe and spotless. While cleanliness and excellent security practices don’t always prevent fires and burglaries, they can prevent them from occurring on a regular basis. This will give you peace of mind for the future.
Do I Need It?
You might be thinking, Wait, I already have homeowner’s insurance! Do I really need another insurance policy?
The answer depends on you. Here’s why: Your homeowner’s insurance policy should include personal property coverage, which protects the actual items inside your home. This plan often protects these same items when they’re outside of your home, but it might not protect all of them and it might not protect them against every kind or risk.
For example, your insurance policy might cover furniture that gets stolen from your storage unit but it might not cover artwork that suffers water damage in that same storage unit. It’s also worth noting that your current amount of personal property insurance (say, $100,000) won’t apply to those same items—even the super valuable ones—when they’re in your storage unit.
So do you need self storage insurance? If your homeowner’s insurance offers enough off-premise coverage and you’re confident that you’ve chosen the right storage unit with the right features in an outstanding facility, or you just don’t value the junk in your storage unit enough to justify the cost, you might not need self storage insurance. But if the value of the items in your storage unit outweighs what your personal property coverage can handle, you’re storing in an area prone to bad weather and crime or you just really, really believe in the words “better safe than sorry,” self storage insurance is for you.
Just remember, while the best insurance is the kind you never have to use, be sure to choose a plan that covers your belongings and your unique needs, just in case.