What’s insured if you keep personal items in a storage unit?

Courtesy of WNCN via CBS Newspath

NEW YORK — Self-storage units are a good way to keep the clutter out of a home, but what happens if that storage unit is damaged and possessions are ruined?

The Self Storage Association estimates 10 percent of households use a storage unit. It’s up to the individual to figure out if your possessions are covered. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy, it might be covered by that, depending on the kind of coverage.

“Call your agent and find out if you have off premises coverage,” said Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute.

If the policy does cover off-premises, that coverage typically includes:

  • Items lost to theft
  • Damage from fires
  • Tornadoes and other perils listed on the policy

It doesn’t cover:

  • Flooding
  • Earthquakes
  • Mold and mildew
  • Vermin or poor maintenance

Off premises coverage for things like storage units severely limits the payback amount on what’s covered.

“For instance, if you have $100,000 personal property coverage on your home, it may be that $10,000 is the limit when it comes to storing materials at a storage facility,” Barry said.

Don’t count on the storage facility’s own insurance company to cover you if their units are damaged by fire or another catastrophe. That insurance covers only the loss to its property.

However, the storage unit owners can sell supplemental insurance on a renter’s goods.

“A lot of these self-storage facilities will offer you insurance coverage and that’s something to look into,” Barry said.

There are limits on that coverage, too.

Anyone keeping valuable items in a storage unit should look into what insurance agencies call a floater or rider.

“If we’re talking about something like jewelry or furs, cover that separately from a homeowner’s insurance policy,” Barry said.

Since it’s the a start of a new year, now is probably a good time to sit down with your insurance agent and update your policies because the replacement cost of many things is going up.

The Insurance Information Institute offers a guide to self-storage insurance coverage, as well what to look for when choosing a self-storage facility.

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