You’ve packed your things and labeled the boxes, found the right storage facility, and rented a storage unit. Everything is neat and orderly—everything except you, that is. You’re spent! It’s been a long day and you’re ready to hop on a plane, check out your new neighborhood, or just get dinner. And then you realize you need a lock for that unit. And this is the part that, if you’re not careful, you’ll wish you could do over.
Save yourself a lot of heartache, my friend. Get a good lock. Double-check that you’ve locked the unit correctly (some of those storage unit doors are tricky!). And be sure to put the keys or combination in a safe place. Those are the most obvious tips to preventing storage unit theft, and here are a few less obvious tips…
The Good News: Storage Unit Theft is Rare
According to Jonathan Stein, a consumer law attorney and former insurance adjuster, “Storage unit theft is not as prevalent as one might think.” Mr. Stein handled theft claims for a large storage company. He explained, “When I was handling claims, about 80% of what we received as a theft claim was denied for no proof of theft. So, if I had 20 claims a month, we paid about four. That means in my four years doing this, we paid about 50 thefts for a six-county area of northern California. There just aren’t a ton of thefts.”
Insurance: Is it worth it?
There are various types of insurance to consider when you rent a unit: your own homeowner’s policy (and some renter’s insurance, too), a policy offered by the storage facility, and specialized storage insurance.
If your storage unit is robbed, the losses may be covered under your homeowner’s insurance. Of course, it’s best to find that out sooner rather than later—usually all it takes is a quick call to your provider. Be sure to ask if there are limits and exclusions—for example, fine art or jewelry may be covered in your home, but not in a storage unit.
Some storage facilities offer insurance. Before you buy it, take the time to read the fine print and ask as many questions as you need to ask (if the facility manager cannot answer the questions, what does that tell you?).
Finally, you can find insurance that is storage-specific. For as low as $10 a month, the contents of your unit are insured for up to an amount specified by your policy. Be sure to note any exceptions: the “missing item” exception on some policies means that you will be reimbursed only if the unit has been plundered, but not if a few items are somehow “missing.”
And a final tip from the expert
Mr. Stein pointed out that, in addition to using a really good lock, it’s a good idea to check on your unit monthly. If you’re going to be out of town, have a friend or neighbor check on the unit periodically.
For your peace of mind: get a great lock, check on the unit regularly, and consider insurance for the items you have stored. After all, you put them there for safe keeping. Self storage theft? Don’t be a victim!
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