Be Prepared: Protecting Your Storage Unit From Disasters

For people with more stuff than space, self-storage units provide an invaluable service. If you don't have an attic or basement (or you don't want to pack them full of stuff), you're no longer relegated to holding a yard sale to get your extra objects out of your house.

But if something is worth holding onto, it's also worth protecting; just like your home could be burglarized or damaged by a flood or fire, so could your self-storage unit. Unfortunately, many people overlook insuring their self-storage units – a risky sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Doesn't the facility's owner have insurance? Yes, he or she probably does – but that's to cover the owner's losses in a disaster. Just like a tenant in an apartment building needs renter's insurance separate from the landlord, if you want your belongings protected, you need your own insurance policy.

What about my own homeowner's or renter's insurance? It's possible that this will cover belongings stored outside your home, but make sure you check. If it does, there are still a few key questions to ask: does it cover only some of the disasters that might happen? Is the amount of coverage lower than the value of the stuff you're storing? Is the deductible so high that you'd have to pay out of pocket to replace damaged items? If the answer to any of these is yes, you might still consider supplemental insurance.

Where can I get self-storage insurance? You may be able to get it through the same company you have your homeowner's or renter's insurance. If not, or if you don't have those types of insurance, many self-storage facilities offer insurance policies as well. As with any insurance, it's a good idea to compare rates and plans from multiple places in order to find the one that fits you best.

If I do decide to get self-storage insurance, what should I consider? Many of the considerations are the same as for homeowner's or renter's insurance. Which disasters are covered? If you're in tornado alley or earthquake country, make sure the coverage reflects that. What amount of coverage do you need? Making a list of what's in your storage unit and what it's worth will help you figure out your answer (and should be done anyway in case you need to file a claim later). Will the policy pay cash value or replacement cost? Cash value means you'll get less money in a disaster because of depreciation, but your monthly premiums may also be lower. And what kind of deductible fits your budget?

Hopefully, you'll never have to use your policy – but if something does go wrong and the things you have in storage are damaged or destroyed, you'll be glad you prepared for it. Talk to people like AAA Flying Trolley Self Storage for more information.