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If you store personal items in a self-storage unit away from your main premises, renters insurance will generally cover them--though at a lower limit. You also have the option of buying a policy from the storage unit company. In this piece we'll discuss what will be the best option for you and your items.
What Will Renters Insurance Cover in a Self-Storage Unit?
Anything your renters policy normally covers would be covered in your storage unit. Belongings such as clothing, furniture, electronics, and appliances will all be covered should a fire, tornado, or water leak damage them. Even if a robber stole your things from the unit, your renters policy will still cover you. You are out of luck, however, if damage from pests, floods, and earthquakes destroy your stored items.
There are a couple of seemingly random exceptions to this. Your insurer will also refuse claim payment if the object is not in your home because it is being repaired or refurbished. If you are restoring an instrument, and deem your own home too risky to store it, your renters insurance would not cover any damage it sustains if it is kept in a self-storage unit. You also won't be covered for items that you usually store in another residence that your renters insurance does not cover. For example, if you store your old record collection that has been at your parent's house in your storage unit, they would not be covered by your renters policy. This is a gray area, and it may be hard to prove.
There may also be some restrictions as to what you're allowed to store in the unit. Most storage facilities for example may not let you store firearms, which are covered under renters policies.
How Much Does Renters Insurance Cover For Self-Storage Units?
Renters insurance will cover items in a self-storage container up to 10% of your policy limits. If you have a policy covering $50,000, you would be insured up to $5,000 for the items in your storage unit. Coverage limits afforded to certain items would still apply in the storage unit - any electronics, jewelry, or musical instruments will be capped at their normal limits. The following table shows common restrictions for certain items:
|Personal Items||Common Limits to Coverage|
|Fraudulent Credit Card Charges||$500|
If you scheduled or got an endorsement for any of those items, you will need to read the policy language to know how much coverage you will receive for those items while in storage.
What if You are Moving to a New Apartment?
Your renters insurance will cover items stored in the unit even if you are moving to a new apartment--just be sure to change the address on your policy to the new apartment within 30 days. Your policy will cover both rental homes for a maximum of 30 days, so it is your responsibility to contact your insurer within a month of the move and have the new policy reflect the new apartment.
Should You Just Buy the Self-Storage Insurance?
We recommend you only purchase additional storage insurance from the storage company or a third-party specialty insurer if the limits of your policy cannot adequately cover at least 80% of the value of the contents in the unit. The protection given by your renters policy and an additional storage insurance policy is essentially the same in terms of what they protect you from, but the latter is not restricted by a 10% cap. A storage unit insurance policy can grant you thousands in extra coverage your renters policy won't give you.
SafeStor is one company that sells storage unit policies that can get you upwards of $15,000 worth of coverage--three times the coverage afforded to most renters policies. You can then even combine those limits with your renters policy giving you over $20,000 in coverage (assuming you are insured for $50,000).
State Farm also offers separate policy called a personal articles policy that gives you additional coverage for your belongings outside of your normal renters policy. If your insurer is State Farm, this can be a highly convenient option.
Another option is to increase the limits on your renters policy--if only for a few months. If you have $20,000 limits and increase it to $50,000, you would give yourself an extra $3,000 of coverage for your storage unit. If the limit increase is smaller than the cost of the additional policy, and the new coverage is adequate, that would be your best option. You can see typical pricing for self-storage unit insurance in the next section.
How Much Do Self-Storage Insurance Policies Cost?
These policies are generally pretty cheap, but it all depends on how much coverage you want. The cost of most renters insurance policies is usually less than $30 a month, so getting coverage for over $10,000 would essentially cost the same as having another renters policy. Below you can see prices that SafeStor offers for their three types of coverage:
|$4,000||$6 per month|
|$10,000||$18 per month|
|$15,000||$24 per month|