Self-storage facilities in Toronto, like many other businesses, often carry insurance to protect themselves against costs brought about by any kind of damage to the property, whether caused by tenants, intruders, or natural events. For instance, in the event of an accidental fire, the storage facility insurance policy covers repairs for any structural damage (walls, roof, floor, individual units, etc). But neither the insurer nor the storage company is obligated to provide compensation for the losses incurred by the renters.
Does this mean that renters need self-storage insurance cover? Not necessarily.
Limits of Homeowners’ Insurance
While it’s important to ensure that your valuables are safe and secure in your storage unit, there are some instances where homeowners insurance, which provides coverage for all personal items, provides some degree of coverage for belongings kept in storage units.
A standard homeowners, business, or renters insurance policy provides you with protection for all your personal possessions (anything you own) located anywhere in the world. So if you’re renting a self-storage unit for business purposes, like to store documents or inventory, then your business policy will probably cover you in the event of any loss or damage. But the coverage is somewhat different from items that you’d store in a closet, garage, or basement.
You should be aware of coverage limits—the limitations on storage unit coverage—where items won’t be covered if they’re in your home or premises. The limitations usually amount to a maximum of 10% of the amount of coverage in the policy. So renters with a $200,000 limit will have items in their storage unit covered to a maximum of $20,000.
You should check your comprehensive home inventory to identify the coverage limits that will safeguard your possessions, whether on your own property or in a self-storage unit.
Homeowners, business, or renters insurance doesn’t cover all your belongings kept in a storage unit. For instance:
- All kinds of automobiles, including cars, motorcycles, and ATVs, are not covered by those policies. As such, they should be insured separately. That said, there are some exceptions, like any machinery used to service your property such as vehicles for disabled persons or a lawn mower, which also have a coverage limit of 10%.
- Any collectibles, like antiques, arts, paintings, or record collections, whether kept in your home, premises, or storage unit, also require a separate insurance policy. Consider getting a personal umbrella policy for the additional coverage.
Getting a Separate Policy for Property in Storage
If the 10% cover provided for items in self-storage via homeowners insurance is not enough, or if your items in storage don’t qualify for the cover, then you should consider:
- Getting an add-on policy for homeowners/renters/business insurance policy.
- Purchasing an insurance policy via your self-storage company.
- Getting a separate personal policy for users without homeowners or renters insurance.
The items in your storage unit are exposed to different kinds of risks. To begin with, the units are not constructed with the same standards as your home, which makes them easier to breach. Second, you don’t know who your neighbours are, yet it’s not unusual for renters to steal from other renters. Third, anything worth putting in storage and spending the extra cash is certainly worth keeping, whether it’s appliances, electronics, furniture, or heirlooms.
So it’s important to get storage insurance to protect your valuables against common risks such as theft, fire, water damage, vandalism, mold, mildew, and even wind damage in the event of hurricanes or tornadoes.
Generally, you should insure your items if:
- You’re storing valuable items in the unit, such as expensive attire/costumes, antique furniture, furs, and other items whose value exceeds the limits of your homeowners’ policy, making it worthwhile to get additional cover.
- The storage facility is situated in an area prone to extreme temperatures, such as intense heat or high humidity. Although thermostatic climate control can help to ensure favourable storage conditions, there are some instances when those conditions actually attract mold and mildew, and expose your valuables to heat damage. Your insurance cover should specify these types of damages.
- Your current insurance policy excludes possessions kept in self-storage units, or is inadequate for the value of items in storage. So you need to increase your insurance coverage to meet your exact needs.
- You’re travelling across borders or overseas and won’t be in a position to visit your storage unit to inspect your possessions regularly. Prolonged absence of owners can make your storage unit an easy target for burglars and vandals.
There are some types of property that are not covered by self-storage insurance policies, such as currency, deeds, financial records, jewelry, watches, precious stones, securities, furs, antiques, and motorized vehicles. Some companies also don’t provide cover for theft (whose signs are not as obvious as those of a burglary), but cover burglary. So make sure to review your storage company’s insurance policy before purchasing it, in case you need more comprehensive cover.
Do Proper Research to Ensure Adequate Cover
When getting a separate insurance policy for your possessions in storage, you should always check for any restrictions imposed by the facility with regard to permitted and prohibited items. Most storage facilities prohibit the storage of:
- Chemicals such as solvents and cleaners
- Gasoline or motor oil
- Any combustibles
If any of these items lead to a fire, you can be in serious trouble. That said, your homeowners, renters, or business insurance should provide coverage in the event that you’re found to be responsible for property damage or injury. But it’s best to get additional cover if you plan on long-term use of the storage unit.
Keep in mind that some self-storage facilities in Toronto require renters to provide proof of insurance before signing the rental agreement. For users without homeowners insurance, they can sell you storage insurance cover or ask you to get the necessary cover from an insurance provider of your choice.
Even if you’re not required to carry insurance coverage, it’s still important to get it for your peace of mind. Remember that the self-storage company carries insurance only to protect its property, not the contents of their clients’ units. So make sure to protect your possessions by getting the right insurance cover, and visit your unit regularly to ensure that everything is intact.
Jiffy Self-Storage provides the top self-storage units in North Toronto. Call us at (416) 745-4339 or contact us here.