4/10/2013 - Storing items away from home? Make sure they're properly insured
If there's one thing that's certain in life, it's this: People have lots of stuff. So much that their home, basement, attic or garage may be filled, thus creating a need for additional space to store extra belongings - like a nearby storage facility.
Business owners have glommed on to this fact, and today, virtually every community has a local facility that people can turn to. In fact, according to the Self Storage Association, there are more than 49,000 storage facilities in the country and one in every 10 households currently rents a unit, making the industry one of the fastest-growing business sectors over the past 35 years.
Because these facilities often house precious cargo and special mementos from yesteryear, consumers place a lot of importance in what they stow away. And all too often, these items can be lost or damaged should there be a fire at the facility. Alternatively, even though storage facilities are protected from would-be thieves, there have been a number of occasions in which storage closets have been tampered with, wherein thieves are able to gain entry and steal whatever loot they find.
These scenarios make insuring storage facilities of utmost importance, according to Loretta Worters, vice president for the Insurance Information Institute.
"If an item is valuable enough that you are willing to pay for storing it, the item should be financially protected with the proper amount and type of insurance," said Worters. "That's why before signing a rental agreement, it is important to find out what types of losses will be covered by the storage facility and whether supplemental insurance may be needed."
Homeowners policy may provide protection
As a general rule, most storage facilities provide insurance protection that customers are able to obtain separately. However, homeowners and renters may be able to obtain coverage through their renters insurance or standard homeowners insurance policy, provided that the policies provide off-premises protection.
Before signing a rental agreement with a storage facility operator, it may be in policyholders' best interest to get in touch with their carrier, as there may be some special stipulations to off-premises protection. For example, III notes that some insurers may limit coverage to 10% of the overall homeowner policy. This means that if there are highly valuable pieces within the storage - such as an ancient heirloom or artist rendering - policyholders may want to carefully select what items to house at the storage site.