Renters insurance for storage units

If you have renters insurance, your belongings are covered anywhere in the world, including in a self-storage unit. However, off-premises coverage may be limited.

Zack Sigel

Zack Sigel

Published August 10, 2018

Renters insurance insures your property when it’s damaged or lost by a risk described in your renters insurance policy. These risks are called named perils. They encompass a range of human actions like vandalism and theft, weather incidents like windstorms or hail, and elemental causes like fire and freezing.

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 the items are on your person or with another member of your family who’s insured under your policy, or located in a different structure other than your home.

That 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.

Read on to learn more about renters insurance for storage units:

Does my renters insurance insure my stuff inside 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.

Named perils

Whether you’re eligible for reimbursement depends on which peril caused the item 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.

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Common named perils include:

  • Fire, lightning, smoke
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Theft
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles, which usually means impact with a vehicle
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Falling objects
  • 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 the contents of your storage unit, you should be able to file a claim with your renters insurance company and receive either a reimbursement for the loss or a replacement of the lost items.

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 caused by flooding.

Similarly, the theft coverage excludes thefts of expensive items like trailers, campers, or watercraft, or from dwellings that are under construction or rented out by you to someone not insured by your policy.

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 a rider. Policygenius can help you find renters insurance that fits your geographic needs and contains the coverage you need for your property.

Neither are war and some governmental actions covered, and while fire, explosions, and smoke are named perils, if any of those perils were caused by a nuclear bomb, they are not covered. That means don’t put your stuff in a storage unit along a major fault line or a nuclear testing site if you want to make sure it’s insured.

Maximum coverage for personal property in self-storage units

Every renters insurance policy has an overall limit of liability, meaning the carrier’s liability to you when you file a claim. If you purchase $10,000 in personal property coverage, the insurer’s limit of liability is $10,000, and you will have to cover any dollar in losses after that out of pocket. (There are different, often higher, limits of liability for your renters insurance policy’s personal liability coverage, which covers your liability when someone gets injured in or around your home.)

Special limits of liability

However, there are special limits of liability for property located in a storage unit. In fact, any property stored away from your home is subject to this limit of liability. In most cases, the special limit of liability 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 kid’s college dorm. Any of your own children or children of extended family 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 kid 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.

Special limits of liability for individual items

In addition to reduced coverage for property stored away from the residence premises, certain individual items also have their own limits of liability, as defined by your policy. These tend to be high-value items like guns, jewelry, coin collections, and watercraft.

Each item’s limits vary; for example, the limit of liability for firearms tends to be around $2,000 to $2,500. That means if your guns are stored in a storage limit, they’re first subject to the individual-item limit of liability – let’s settle on $2,500 – and then further limited for coverage by the rule for off-premises limits of liability.

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.

Riders to increase limits of liability

It’s possible to purchase additional coverage that increases your limits of liability, thereby protecting greater amounts of your stuff. This is called adding a rider or endorsement to your policy. Depending on your insurer, it may be possible to increase the limits of liability on individual items, the limits of liability on stuff in your storage unit or another off-premises location, or both.

Additionally, you may schedule some high-value items with relatively low limits of liability to make sure you get full coverage for them. Schedules are a type of rider that pertains to valuables that may otherwise not be covered by your policy, or which are covered at very low amounts. Make sure your schedule includes coverage for items in a storage unit.

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 to 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 property are eligible for coverage, and any limitations that might apply. You may find that your renters or homeowners insurance policy provides adequate coverage.