You can amass many belongings over the course of a lifetime. And unless you are completely alone, you will probably collect enough property for more than one lifetime as you share your life with your spouse and your children, and you take on the property of deceased relatives. Sometimes, it’s easier to keep all the property you have in both home and off-site storage rather than go through it and resign yourself to donating it, selling it, or throwing it away. If you have property in storage, it's important that you know what questions to ask in order to discover how your property is protected against damage, theft, vandalism and other incidents when it’s not under your care and supervision.
Does Your Home Insurance Policy Protect Property Stored Off-Premises?
Your home insurance policy may include limited protection for items stored outside of your home. Read your policy so you can identify the conditions, exclusions, limits, and deductibles applied to property stored off-site. If your insurance policy provides no protection, talk to your insurance agent about the possibility of adding this coverage.
What Does the Storage Facility Protect?
The storage facility in which you keep your property will likely have some insurance protection for customers. The facility should have liability coverage to protect itself and it may also provide insurance that its customers can purchase separately. Find out what incidents your storage facility’s policy covers and evaluate their individual policies to determine whether they are worth investing in. Make sure that you are not duplicating coverage already offered by your existing home insurance policy.
Do You Need the Stuff?
One way to minimize the insurance concerns you have over property stored away from your home is to minimize it altogether. This is sometimes more difficult than just paying for insurance and storage fees as it means you must go through the items you’re storing and decide whether to keep them, take them home, or give them away. But once this is done you can reduce your insurance coverage appropriately, you may be able to reduce or get rid of the cost of storage, and you won't have to make the decision again until you acquire new property.
Can You Take Preventative Measures?
There are many preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of insurable incident in your off-site property. Talk to the owner of the storage facility to find out what they do to prevent theft, flood, fire, vandalism, and other insurable incidents. Also, take a look around your units and determine what steps you can take. You might consider adding a smoke detector and simple alarm system to your unit, but make sure that you aren't violating your terms of service in doing so. You can also make sure that none of the items kept in storage are of a very high value; instead, keep the high-end and collectible items at home where you have the most control over their environment and safety. Since the value of much of your stored property could be emotional, and no insurance company can reimburse you for emotional losses, you might keep your more sentimentally precious items at home as well.
What Can’t Be Covered?
Whether you use your Houston home insurance company's policy, storage facility’s policy, individual insurance sold by the storage facility, or a combination of three, there will likely still be some gaps in your coverage. Make note of these gaps and decide whether it's worth it to self-insure them.
It’s not easy to get rid of family heirlooms and old furniture from your treasured college days, but it may be more practical than trying to find an affordable solution for keeping and insuring it. If you’ve got important items stored in an off-site facility, give us a call. To help you understand your current coverage, current exposure, and how you can protect the value of your property whether it’s in your garage or a locked facility down the road call us today at 713-349-0400.