Out of Sight, Out of Mind: How Are You Insuring Your Stored Property?

If you’re a fan of popular television shows like “Storage Wars” or “Pawn Stars,” you’re not alone. Americans are well known for their accumulation of personal possessions, and many people have them stored at home (as evidenced on the show “Hoarders”) and others have them in off-site, self-storage facilities. Most folks store items out of a belief they have some sentimental or monetary value. However, if you have items in off-site storage, have you considered what happens if they are damaged, destroyed, or stolen?

Nationwide, more than 19 million storage units are available for rent, according to Self Storage Data Services, a company that provides statistics and data for the self-storage industry. With more than 114 million households in the U.S., that means nearly one storage unit per every six households. The chances of you using a self-storage facility at some point in your life in any state: Oklahoma, Oregon, North Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, etc. are fairly high, so you need to understand the coverages available to you.

The first place to look for coverage is your home insurance policy under the personal property coverage section. In the standard policy, personal property owned by the insured is generally covered anywhere in the world. If your policy contains this wording, you can be comfortable knowing that your property is covered while in storage.

Even though your home insurance policy provides coverage, you need to make sure that you do have the property properly included. For example, when specifying the personal property limit, do not forget about the value of the items you have in storage. It’s common for people to not include those items that they do not regularly see in their home. The value should be included in your policy, and the items should also be added to your home inventory. Also keep in mind that any special sublimits on your policy will also apply to the items in storage. Therefore, items such as high-value electronics, computers, and collectibles will all have a limit that is potentially less than their full replacement cost. If the limit is insufficient, you will still need to discuss purchasing a floater policy with your insurance company.

In certain circumstances, the self-storage facility may offer you insurance coverage for your property along with your rental agreement. Before you decide to accept or deny this coverage, you should ask to review the policy. You can review the coverage terms and compare them to your home insurance policy to see if the coverage is similar. While there may be some minor convenience in using the facility’s policy, you will lose the benefit of being a valued customer in the way you are with your home insurance company. The storage facility policy is a volume-driven business and does not generally provide individual underwriting or attention in the event of a loss. If you do decide to elect coverage from the facility, you should not pay for duplicate coverage for the same items on your home insurance policy.


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