Are your belongings insured while they’re stored in a storage unit? (image via google)

Being able to rent storage space can be a godsend in certain situations.  You might be downsizing to a smaller home but want to keep family heirlooms for your children.  You may be moving from one place to another and need a temporary place to keep your stuff safe and secure.  You might have outgrown the house you have now and need the extra room while you search for a house that better meets your needs.  No matter the reason you need it, having the option to store your things in a rented space can be the difference between keeping things you love and being forced to sell, giveaway, or toss things you would really rather keep.

When it comes to solving these problems, self-storage units and even those storage solutions that offer amenities like climate control and added security provide an easy solution.  This is why so many of us, nearly 1 in 10 according to the Self Storage Association, have rented storage space separate from our primary housing.  When looking for the right storage space, many of us consider things like location, cost, security, and the reputation of the company managing the storage units.  We often go to great lengths to ensure we are storing our belongings in a safe, secure location without ever asking the most obvious security-related question: “If there is a fire and the items I store in my storage unit are damaged, will my loss be covered by insurance?”

The answer is… it depends.

1.     Storage Company

Start with the storage company where you are planning to store your possessions.  It is important to ask the right questions because the answers provided may be true but may lead you to believe you are protected when you are not.  First, ask about if the company is insured.  You are trying to determine if the company is covered by basic insurance policies any business should have like liability and property.  Once you have established that they are insured, ask if their policy provides any protection for your property in the event that fire, nature, or theft damages or destroys your property.  If the answer is yes, verify how much coverage your personal property is provided under their policy and check that against what you plan to store to ensure it is enough to cover any potential losses.

2.     Homeowner’s and Renter’s Policies

If the storage company does not have insurance that covers your property, this is your next stop.  Any items that you store off your property may be covered by your homeowner/renter policy which makes that a good starting point.  Talk to your agent to find out if offsite storage is covered by your policy.  If it isn’t, you will need to secure this coverage somewhere else.  If it is, you aren’t out of the woods yet.  Some insurance companies limit the value of property that can be stored offsite and still covered.  In order to determine if you have the insurance protection you need, you will need to know if your policy includes this provision and what that maximum value is.  You also want to make sure that there aren’t any other provisions in your policy specific to stored property like higher deductibles.

It isn’t difficult to protect all of your property, regardless of where it is kept.  You just need to make sure you have proper coverage or take the steps to get the coverage you need.

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Apartment

Do you know what mistakes to avoid when renting? Image via AugustRode on Flickr

Moving out on your own for the first time can mean freedom, but it also mean financial responsibility.  While living at home, you likely had a little leeway in covering your expenses, a leeway that will no longer be there once you sign that first lease and settle into your first place.  Make this process as painless as possible by not making these common mistakes.

1.     Not Purchasing Renter’s Insurance

The number one mistake first time renters make is not understanding the importance of purchasing renter’s insurance.  Many believe that the loss of their property in a fire or theft would be covered by any insurance policy the landlord has on the property.  However, most homeowner’s insurance policies relating to investment or rental property specifically exclude property owned by tenants.  In the event of a loss, not having a renter’s insurance policy means you won’t have any help replacing the personal items that are lost or damaged.

2.     Not Knowing How Much You Need

For those moving out on their own for the first time, there are lots of unexpected expenses that can creep up and bite you if you aren’t prepared.  In order to determine how much rent you can afford, you will need to create a budget that shows all the money coming in and going out.  The consequences of breaking a lease can be expensive and breaking a lease can make it difficult to get another lease in the future.  Before you sign a lease, make sure you can afford the rent and all other expenses relating to the property.

3.     Not Paying Attention to How Much You Have

Now that you are going to have a financial obligation, you need to pay attention to where your money is going.  It is great to have a budget, but you also need a way to track that budget and make sure you are spending your money where it matters most.   Living on your own means you will need money for things you haven’t likely been responsible for before like toilet paper, groceries, and gas.

4.     Not Reading the Lease

Just like with any other legal document that you must sign, you need to read the lease in full before signing.  This is important advice for all renters, not just those who are renting for the first time.  The lease is the contract between you and the landlord and outlines all the conditions and exclusions associated with the rental agreement.  In order to be sure you know what you are responsible for and what the landlord expects from you, you must read the lease prior to signing it.

5.     Not Completing a Formal Move-In Inspection

Prior to moving into your apartment, it is critical that you perform a walk-though with the landlord that results in a documented list of any defects in the property.   You need to take this step to protect yourself before you take possession of the property.  Documenting any flaws or damage before you move in ensures you won’t be held accountable for those damages when you move out.

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