On New Year’s Eve, 2018, there was a fire in Croydon, London, that destroyed 1,198 rented self-storage units. Many people lost everything in the blaze, including precious family heirlooms.
Among the victims of the fire was Giacomo Malvermi. Giacomo had been using a self-storage unit to keep newly-restored pinball machines, ready to sell onto customers. Giacomo had more than a dozen pinball machines in storage with a total value of £20,000. When the fire raged through the self-storage site, all his hard work was destroyed, causing him to lose money as well as rare items with unique histories.
The fire at the self-storage depot in Croydon brought to the fore the critical issue of insurance. Although the self-storage market is booming and people find the service helpful, some operators do not offer customers coverage to protect their items in the event of a disaster.
There’s an incentive for self-storage companies to avoid insuring the contents of their containers. The self-storage market is highly competitive, and customers are sensitive to prices. Insurance adds to the cost of storage, which could make a particular company appear uncompetitive. However, as the Croydon fire highlights, protection is essential to prevent the financial fallout from a worst-case scenario. Although the safety of stored goods is excellent at most self-storage firms is good, things can and do still go wrong.
Remember, self-storage units do not necessarily have automatic insurance. Although self-storage companies will do their best to protect your property, some things are out of their control.
Self-Storage Insurance Coverage
Many people choose self-storage insurance coverage to protect themselves from the kind of disaster that Giacomo Malvermi experienced. There are several places you can go to get self-storage insurance. The first, and most obvious, is to apply for coverage through the self-storage company itself. Sometimes the storage firm will offer an in-house product, but the majority of the time it will outsource insurance to a third-party partner. The second option is to get separate coverage on your unit from an external provider.
Insurance companies will pay out for a range of disasters that could befall a self-storage unit. Ideally, you want to choose insurance packages that cover as many circumstances as possible. Most self-storage insurance covers fire and explosions, natural disasters, like earthquakes, floods and snow, theft, falling tree damage, and impact by aircraft or other vehicles. More comprehensive insurance will also cover damage as a result of civil unrest or labour strikes.
When choosing insurance, check that it meets your needs. Insurance companies will usually limit the amount of money that they are willing to pay out for particular items, like pedal cycles. For instance, an insurance company may only cover bicycles in storage up to a value of £1,000, even if the purchase value is higher than that. Other insurance firms may place a limit on the value of valuables (like jewellery) that they will cover. Many companies will also refuse to insure things like coins, bullion and lottery tickets. Although you can get tailored insurance, it’s worth checking with your provider ahead of time what they are prepared to cover and what they’re not.
Most Self-Storage Is Very Safe
Although the Croydon self-storage fire made headline news, it should be pointed out that it was an extremely rare event. Self-storage is a much safer way of keeping your possessions compared to storing them at home or in a garage.
Self-storage companies offer a high level of security to prevent theft.
- Perimeter fencing. Self-storage companies use perimeter fencing to prevent criminals from gaining access to their premises.
- Security cameras. Self-storage companies employ security cameras to detect intruders and alert the authorities.
- Security personnel. Many self-storage companies hire full-time, around-the-clock security personnel to protect items in storage.
- Sensor lighting. These lights switch on when they detect movement, alerting security staff to the presence of intruders.
Self-storage firms also take measures to prevent the spread of fire.
- Public areas are free from flammable material. Self-storage depots keep public spaces free from combustible materials, reducing the risk of fire.
- Self-storage companies use sprinklers. Unlike garages or lofts, self-storage companies use sprinklers to help control and put out a fire before it spreads.
- Self-Storage Companies Use Compartmentalisation. Many self-storage companies break up their space into separate zones to slow the rate at which fire spreads.
Finally, self-storage companies only grant access only to customers.
High-quality self-storage units provide customers with a unique PIN or personal identification number. Nobody else knows the PIN, not even staff. All of this combines to make self-storage an exceptionally safe option.