A self storage unit serves you well as a place for everyday items. But say you want to keep special, more valuable items in there? You will need to be sure they are fully protected. Fortunately, the insurance options on offer help you keep your peace of mind while valuables such as antiques, collectables and even cars and jewelry are kept in storage.

If you don’t rent storage yet, determine the storage unit size and type you need for your possessions, find a local storage facility and start thinking about storage insurance. If some of your items are valuable, think about getting experts to appraise them. Then, while they are away from home, insure them for their worth. We explain which valuable items you can put in self storage and how you can insure them there, including using the policy you have on your home, one offered by the storage facility, or a specialist one from a third-party provider.

The valuable items you can (and cannot) put in storage

A self storage unit is a great place for collectables such as comic books, themed toys, vinyl recordings, antique clocks and stamp collections, and these can be worth big — and increasing — sums of money. Artworks, furniture and vintage clothes are also valuable items which may not fit in at home, especially after downsizing. Getting a storage unit with climate control is recommended for all such prized items that can be damaged by extreme temperatures or humidity.

A car — which might be a luxury or vintage vehicle and so worth a lot of money — can be kept in a 10’x20’ storage unit, preferably with climate control to preserve all the chrome, leatherwork and tires in perfect condition. The same is true for expensive RVs and motorhomes, which are often parked outside at storage facilities and so are exposed to additional hazards. There are even self storage options for boats — definitely worth considering insurance for these.

Some self storage operators allow the storage of valuable jewelry in their units but others expressly forbid it, and money and precious metals are usually not allowed in a unit — a safe deposit box or a strong home safe are recommended alternative solutions. Many facilities also do not allow furs to be stored, though some allow them in climate-controlled units. Guns, including valuable and collectable models, are often not allowed in storage units except by special arrangement and always without their ammunition.

Jewelry box with valuable items
Jewelry box with valuable items

Homeowners’ or tenants’ insurance may not have enough coverage

Whether you own your home or are renting, you will have an insurance policy on it, or you may even have small business insurance. Some of these policies also extend their coverage to your possessions outside the home. However, the rate of coverage may be reduced, perhaps to 10%, so for example a regular coverage of $50,000 in the home drops to $5,000 outside it, including in a storage facility, and that might not be enough for your most valuable items.

In-house storage insurance may not protect against all liabilities

When you sign a contract to rent a storage unit, they often suggest you take their in-house insurance as well — many providers require that you have storage insurance of some sort. While this can be convenient and relatively inexpensive, the coverage and protection you get may not be ideal for very valuable items. For example, the policy may not cover smoke damage and potential events such as floods and earthquakes — you might need more peace of mind for your precious collectables.

Third-party insurance can give you exactly what you need

There are several companies that offer insurance explicitly for storage. Their policies frequently cover a wider range of potential hazards, including natural disasters, falling objects, riots and the effects of vermin. In addition, their coverage levels are often higher, for example up to $75,000 — as payments and deductible amounts vary with the coverage, get a policy that matches the worth of your stored items. Even better, as with other forms of insurance, for a little more money you may be able to get an ‘endorsement’ to cover that diamond necklace, for example, to a value higher than the policy’s base coverage level.

Vintage old pocket watch collection
Vintage old pocket watch collection

Insuring valuable vehicles in storage — aim for reduced premiums

Any vehicle kept at a storage facility needs to be in working condition — though a non-functioning vintage car, for example, could possibly be kept there on a trailer — so you could continue with its regular insurance policy. This is useful so you can take it out for a run around now and then, but it would be costly over time. As homeowners’ or tenants’ insurance probably won’t cover it, consider a third-party provider.

For a large, expensive RV, some insurers may offer reduced premiums during off-season months. Always check the small print, however, to be sure you are content with the policy, especially if your rig will be parked outdoors at the facility and therefore affected by the weather. As regular cars are usually stored in fully enclosed units, weather conditions won’t be a threat and you might not be so concerned about a wide of range of potential hazards, letting you choose a policy with lower premiums.

Covered storage for recreational vehicles
Covered storage for recreational vehicles

Valuable items can sit in a self storage unit very safely, and you will have even less worries if you insure them properly. Make sure you get the right unit, with consideration given to the climate and potential hazards in the local area, and find out what your possessions are actually worth. Then get the insurance policy you need — always check the small print — and don’t necessarily accept what you are offered but be smart instead. Your precious possessions will thank you!


Francis Chantree is a writer and editor for Yardi, focusing on real estate and lifestyle content. He is a former programmer and researcher who exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he can be found gardening and reading.

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