Should I get insurance for my storage unit?

For valuable items, buying insurance beyond what the storage facility might cover can be a good idea.

Question

I am currently storing a lot of my stuff in a storage facility. While some of the items are not very valuable (clothes, old shoes, posters, and so forth), some of it is (e.g. furniture and family heirlooms). The storage unit is already a little pricey. Is it worth it to buy separate insurance, in case something happens?

Answer

You are paying a storage facility to keep your items safe. Imagine how you would feel if a fire or floor destroyed everything in your unit. You could lose items of significant emotional value (family heirlooms) or financial value (jewelry, furniture, and the like).

Many storage facility renters wrongly assume that the facility itself has insurance to cover the losses for any damage. This is sometimes true, but is not always true. Check your agreement with the facility for the fine print on this.

If you aren't already covered, you may be able to buy coverage directly from the storage facility. Many of them offer insurance as an add-on, which each individual renter can opt into. Depending on your specific facility and market, you might be able to purchase insurance of up to $10,000 for only $10 to $30 per month.

Whether or not this type of cost is worth your while depends on a number of factors. If a certain nominal amount of insurance is included within your existing contract (e.g., $1,000), that might be enough to make you feel comfortable.

Also check your homeowners' insurance policy. Many homeowner policies actually include a certain amount of recovery funds for “off-site” storage units. In other words, your home policy might already provide you with a certain amount to potentially recover.

If neither the storage facility nor your home policy give you coverage, consider whether or not the items you are storing are financially valuable. Family heirlooms and photographs are emotionally significant, but might not reap insurance proceeds in the event they are destroyed. If you are storing expensive paintings or collections of jewelry, however, some additional coverage might be well worth it.

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