How to Protect Items in a Storage Unit

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Protect what you pack away.
Protect what you pack away. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Storage units provide an easy, cost-effective solution to the problem of having excess household items and not enough room to put them. However, most people do not think about how to protect and insure these items from damage or theft once they're outside the home. Before you rent a self-storage unit, think about what you need to do in order to keep your possessions safe.

Read the rental agreement carefully and determine if losses are covered by the self-storage unit facility and, if so, what the dollar amount is. Rental agreements usually do not cover any losses, so you need to know this in advance. If you have any questions, ask the storage unit manager before signing an agreement.

Talk to your homeowners' insurance company and ask if personal items kept in storage units outside your residence are covered under your existing policy.

Insure your possessions, whether expanding your homeowners policy or getting a new policy. Antique furniture or other high-dollar items in a storage unit usually are covered under a homeowners insurance policy rider. However, make sure the dollar amount of coverage is high enough to cover any losses. Whatever type of insurance you get for your valuables, determine whether reimbursement is for the replacement cost of the items or a depreciated cash value.

Create an itemized list of every item you put in the storage unit, and take pictures of the items. You will need to provide this documentation to your insurance company in case the items are stolen or damaged.

Determine whether you need additional flood insurance. Most storage units are not water-tight, and heavy rains or flooding can penetrate them. Take out additional flood insurance if there is any doubt, because homeowners insurance policies do not always cover flood damage.

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