Whether you need a place to safeguard valuable artwork, stash
your stuff while living with Mom and Dad or store unneeded items
when you move into a smaller home, obtaining the proper amount of
insurance for belongings in storage is a necessity.
If an item is important enough that you're willing to pay for
its storage, it should be insured, advises the Insurance
Information Institute (III).
Check your homeowners or renters insurance
Before you buy storage insurance, check your homeowners or
policy to find out how much protection for stored items you may
already have. When it comes to home insurance, "many insurers
typically limit the off-premises coverage for possessions to 10
[percent] to 15 percent of the overall amount of coverage that they
have, so it's wise to double-check with your insurance company,"
says Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders in San
"Homeowner policies also have internal caps," Bach adds. "They
might have a cap of $1,000 on jewelry or $200 on comic books and
trading cards. If one of the items you're storing in the unit has
this cap, you have to think about this."
If you don't have renters or
"you may be able to buy a special policy that covers items in a
storage unit, and you want to make sure that the coverage is broad
enough to cover what might happen, like theft or weather-related
events," Bach explains. "Most of these facilities will make you
sign a waiver acknowledging they won't be responsible if your stuff
Don't forget to make a list of what you put in your storage
unit, she adds. That way, you won't have to rely on your memory. A
list will help you determine the value of stored items. "It will
also help you make sure that you have enough insurance on your
The III offers free Web-based
"Know Your Stuff"
home inventory software. It will help save important data, such as
the purchase price of your belongings and serial numbers. You also
can upload photos, scanned receipts and appraisal forms.
Buying storage insurance
If you're buying a policy just for your items in storage, shop
for the best value by getting
from several companies.
"It's an important purchase and you want to protect yourself and
your valuables and make sure that your needs are being met," says
Jim Whittle, assistant general counsel and chief claims counsel of
the American Insurance Association. "You have to shop around for
coverage. There is insurance you can buy for stored items and you
want to ask for that. The amount of coverage depends on the
individual and how much you want to pay and what you have in your
storage unit. There may also be coverage that the storage facility
has, so you'll want to explore that. Some facilities might offer
that as an extra charge."
If you're young and have few possessions, you may not need an
expensive policy, "but you need something," says Eric Cutler,
director of personal lines at Oregon Mutual Insurance in
McMinnville, Ore. "As you become an adult and get out on your own,
you need to know what's covered and not covered."
Storage at Mom and Dad's house
What if your stuff is stored in your parents' driveway in a
storage pod? How about if your belongings are at your mother's
house? Are they fully insured? To be sure, read the insurance
policy that protects the home.
"A lot of carriers cover this, and we do as well," says Cutler.
"We cover personal property, whether it's in a storage pod in the
driveway, in your house or in your backyard. It just can't be on
the street or across the street from your house."