Renters insurance is financial protection for your personal property if it’s damaged or lost due to a named peril in your renters insurance policy. A typical renters insurance policy will cover perils like fire, smoke damage, windstorms and hail, theft, vandalism, short-circuit damage, and more.
With some exceptions, if you have renters insurance, your belongings are covered anywhere in the world. That means not only in your home, but also whenever your personal belongings are with you or with another member of your family who’s insured under your policy. For example, if your suitcase gets stolen while you are traveling, your renters insurance will cover it. If your laptop gets stolen out of the gym locker room, your renters insurance will still consider it a covered theft.
This also means your personal property is covered even when it’s in a storage unit. However, renters insurance policies usually limit how much you can get reimbursed for a claim if the property is located somewhere other than your home.
When does renters insurance cover my personal belongings in a storage unit?
Your renters insurance reimburses you for your property that is damaged or lost when it is almost anywhere in the world, including in a storage unit.
Renters insurance named perils
Whether you’re eligible for reimbursement depends on which peril caused your belongings to become lost or damaged. There are many named perils, so make sure you check your policy for the precise details of what’s covered.
Some renters policies may also be all-risk coverage, meaning that your coverage is not limited by what’s named in the policy and it’s up to the insurer to prove that the loss wasn’t covered.
Common named perils include:
Fire, lightning, smoke
Windstorm or hail
Riot or civil commotion
Damage by aircraft
Damage by vehicles (not your own)
Vandalism or malicious mischief
Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
Water or steam that escapes from pipes or air conditions, fire sprinklers, a household appliance like a dishwasher
If a named peril damages or destroys your personal belongings inside your storage unit, you should be able to file a claim with your renters insurance company and receive a reimbursement for the loss.
Some of the named perils have caveats attached to them. For example, the water or steam coverage doesn’t cover damage caused by water that backed up or overflowed from a sump pump or sewer, or water damage caused by flooding.
Some perils are also explicitly excluded. In addition to floods, earthquakes and other types of earth movements are generally not covered, unless you purchase additional coverage, which is known as an endorsement. A Policygenius expert can help you find renters insurance that fits your geographic needs and contains the coverage you need for your property.
Coverage limits for personal property in self-storage units
There are sublimits for personal property located in a storage unit. Your sublimit is the maximum amount of money your insurance company will reimburse you for specific belongings, circumstances, or perils.
Any property stored away from your home is subject to a sublimit. In most cases, a renters policy sublimit for your personal property away from home is 10% of the coverage you’d receive had the property been at your home, or $1,000, whichever is greater.
This limitation has some exclusions, meaning that you can still benefit from the full limit of liability if your property is away from home under these circumstances:
It’s in your child’s college dorm. Any of your own children or children whom you care for are still considered part of your household up to a certain age. When they move out to go to school full time, their personal property is still insured under your renters insurance policy up to the full amount provided that the student has been enrolled for a certain number of days.
Your home is being repaired, renovated, or rebuilt. If you have to move your property to a self-storage unit or some other off-premises location because your home is uninhabitable, the property will be covered without a special limit of liability.
In addition to reduced coverage for property stored away from the rental premises, certain individual personal property also has its own sublimits, as defined by your policy. This usually pertains to high-value items like guns, jewelry, coin collections, and electronics.
Each item’s sublimits vary. For example, the sublimit for firearms tends to be around $2,000 to $2,500. That means if your guns are damaged or stolen in a storage unit, your insurance company is going to factor in the firearms sublimit as well as the off-premises sublimit into your overall reimbursement.
Depending on your policy, if guns worth $2,500 in your storage unit are destroyed by a covered loss, you may receive either 10% back, which is $250, or $1,000, because it’s greater than the 10% limit.
How to add additional coverage
It’s possible to purchase additional coverage that increases your sublimits, thereby protecting greater amounts of your personal belongings. This is called adding an endorsement to your policy. Depending on your insurance company, it may be possible to increase the sublimits on individual items, the sublimits on your possessions in your storage unit or another off-premises location, or both.
Below are common renters insurance endorsements to add to your insurance policy to extend protection to the belongings in your storage unit.
Scheduled property endorsement: You can schedule an endorsement to your policy for specific items (usually those of high-value) that exceed your policy’s sublimit. Scheduled property endorsements are a type of endorsement that pertains to belongings that may otherwise not be covered by your policy, or which are covered at very low amounts. Make sure your schedule includes coverage for those items in a storage unit.
Replacement cost rider: There are two types of renters insurance policies you can buy — actual cash value policies and replacement cost policies. If you have an actual cash value policy, you should consider adding a replacement cost endorsement to your insurance policy. Doing so will cost you a little bit more, but it will also ensure that you get enough money from your insurance company to replace your belongings as if they were new.
Storage unit insurance
While not every self-storage company offers insurance for the contents stored in their storage units, most will still require your belongings to be already insured, so make sure you bring a copy of your renters insurance coverage when you go to pay for your storage unit. Homeowners insurance also covers personal property in a storage unit in the same way that renters insurance does.
Self-storage companies that do offer property insurance will outsource it to an insurance carrier, so you may have to pay your premiums and file claims with that carrier instead of the storage company.
Check with the storage company about rates, how losses are covered, what types of personal property are eligible for coverage, and any limitations that might apply. You may find that your renters or homeowners insurance policy provides adequate coverage.