FAQ: What Happens If My Storage Unit Is Destroyed?

Photo Credit: Deathexit12 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Deathexit12 via Compfight cc

Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth come to mind. If you have dental implants, then maybe a little stomping, screaming and tearing your hair out instead. No hair? Dash a stack of plates on the floor. Whatever method you choose, don’t hold back your frustration; experts agree that expressing your emotions helps you heal faster. Of course, they don’t say anything about expressing these feelings with someone else’s wedding china….

Once the initial waves of shock and anger have passed, take a few deep breaths, come up with a payment plan for your friend’s china, and read this FAQ about what happens if your storage unit is destroyed.

Is there a time machine I can use to save my stuff from that self storage facility?

No. It was one unit over from yours. Next question.

My fireworks collection blew up. Can I get reimbursed?

There were several things you could have done to make sure that your prized possessions were stored safely. Number one: don’t be a moron. And number two: don’t store live fireworks in your storage unit. Stashing flammable items in a storage unit is strictly forbidden. So not only will you not get reimbursed, but the facility owner will likely make you reimburse them for damages.

My unit was flooded and everything was destroyed. What should I have done to protect it?

It’s too bad your stuff got damaged by the water, but the firemen had to put the fireworks-incited fire out somehow. Often the damage has nothing to do with what or how you packed your storage unit and everything to do with a natural disaster you couldn’t have prevented or the sheer idiocy of the guy renting the unit next to yours.To ensure the safety of your belongings next time, you should pack things in water-tight bins and stack them on shelves or at least on pallets to keep them off the floor. Keep in mind, however, that there isn’t much you can do about wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, tornadoes, the wrath of God, or your neighbor’s unscrupulously-stored dynamite. Except one thing: have your stuff insured. Which leads us to…

How could I have prevented this disaster with my storage unit?

To paraphrase an age-old saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of insurance compensation. The best way to handle any kind of damage to the contents of your storage unit is prevention. Before you sign a rental agreement, personally check their security and surveillance measures. Find out if there’s a history of flooding in that area, or whether it’s in a high-crime neighborhood. Verify references.

And according to Jay MacDonald of Bankrate.com, check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance agent about coverage for your stuff in storage. Some self storage facilities will be happy to add insurance coverage to your contract—for a fee, of course. But many storage facilities do not offer this and those that do usually provide only limited coverage. Be sure to read the fine print because not all policies will cover every disaster. So you’re on your own with the marriage to Phil Spector.

Someone broke into my storage unit, trashed it and stole stuff. What should I do first?

The first thing you should do is call the police. Then take pictures. No, not selfies of you doing your “spontaneous” surprised look. Pictures of the damage. Ensuring that everything in the storage unit was organized, photographed, and itemized makes determining what was taken so much easier. Let the storage facility manager know that a break-in occurred, and review their surveillance camera tapes, if they are available. If not, no, filming a reenactment won’t suffice. What is this, America’s Most Wanted? If your stuff was insured (and why wouldn’t it be, if you’ve been reading our informative yet entertaining blog posts?), you’ll need to call your insurance company to make a claim. Again, most insurance policies purchased through the storage facility itself are extremely limited in what they will cover, so your complete collection of Hello Kitty paraphernalia may not be protected.

What’s usually covered in a storage facility’s insurance policy?

Their asses. Seriously, what’s covered under a storage facility’s policy can vary as wildly as Lindsay Lohan’s sobriety. Some storage places cover damages–but only those that occur to the storage building itself, not to your personal belongings (huh?). Other facilities cover theft, fire, and water damage–and flood damage, but as a separate policy. Goods that are generally not covered are: money, jewelry, furs, vehicles, and debt/bills, so there goes your brilliant plan to become solvent. The bottom line is that you are responsible for insuring the items that you store in a self-storage unit.

My stuff got soaked! What on earth is the difference between water damage and flood damage?

Holy confounding insurance policies, Batman! It’s true, when it comes to insuring your stuff, how it got wet matters a great deal because “water damage” and “flood damage” are considered two different things. According to property management firm Sentry Management, flood damage is when normally dry property has been submerged by an overflowing river, stream, heavy rain, or other type of naturally-occurring rising water situation. Crying fits do not qualify as a naturally-occurring rising water situation. Water damage is when your water heater explodes, frozen pipes burst, rainstorm causes leaks, etc. Crying fits may qualify here. Either way, it behooves you to get all the details from your insurance agent.

Is there any chance of reimbursement on the stuff I lost?

We can’t stress this enough, so take notes: prevention and preparation are the key to lessening the sting of seeing the ashen remains of your wedding dress. Besides the fact that this may be an omen that you shouldn’t go for that fifth marriage, remember: always get insurance for your storage unit belongings. Otherwise, your only hope is to marry into wealth, seek a divorce, and refurnish your place with your alimony money.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If disaster hasn’t struck yet, do your homework on the security of potential storage facilities, pack smartly, take pictures, and get insurance. If you’re reading this after the disaster, all we can say is: it’s too bad about the time machine.


[1] http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/insurance-stuff-placed-in-storage.aspx

[2] http://www.extraspace.com/storage-tips/insuring-your-stored-items.aspx

[3] http://www.sentrymgt.com/newsletters/flood-vs-water-damage-what-type-coverage-do-you-have

[4] http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201311/dont-bury-your-feelings

[5] http://www.tenantone.com/self_storage_coverage.html

SSF Team

SSF Team

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