According to the self-storage industry, 10 percent of Americans now use a self-storage facility of some kind. Portable on-demand storage units, also known as PODS, give you the ability to store and move your belongings without having to schlep them to a self-storage facility. Pods might be lockable and might be made of solid material, but there's no guarantee that they can protect your stuff against anything that might happen. For that, you need insurance -- and your renter's policy might not do the job.
Covering Your Assets
When you buy insurance, you are transferring risk. All things considered, it's not that likely that you'd lose everything in your pod. If you did, it could cost you a lot of money. What an insurance company does is to find lots of people that want to be protected against the risk that something will happen to their stuff. It charges each of them a little bit of money, called an insurance premium. The company holds onto the premiums, knowing that it'll pay a portion of them out to the few people that have a loss, and that it'll keep the rest of them either as a reserve for a bad year where there are lots of claims or as profit for itself.
Renting Some Protection
Renters insurance is a special type of coverage that protects your belongings while they're in someone else's property. Your landlord has insurance, but it only covers his building -- your stuff is your responsibility. When you're a tenant, buying this insurance provides your own pool of coverage that doesn't just apply to your stuff when it's in your apartment. For instance, your policy might cover your property if something gets stolen from you in a mugging, and many policies also cover your property when they're stored off-site.
Protecting Your Pod
Renters insurance frequently contains a clause that covers your items when they're stored outside of your apartment. The technical term for this coverage is "off-site storage." That type of coverage protects your items when they're in a pod. However, some renters policies limit your off-site storage coverage. It's possible that you might have a $25,000 policy, for instance, but have only 10 percent of its limit available for off-site storage. This means that your belongings are only covered for $2,500 when they're in a pod. While the pod is sitting in your driveway or at your property, though, it may be considered on-premises.
Another type of coverage to look for, which can cover your pod while you're moving, is "in-transit coverage." This protects your goods while they're moving from place to place. Bear in mind, though, that the coverage may have a limit for how far you can be moving the items. Your renters coverage only works while you're paying it, too. For instance, if you cancel your renters coverage on May 31 because you're moving on May 31, your belongings won't be covered while they're being moved during the first week of June.
Insuring Your Pod
The only way to be sure of what coverage you have for your pod is to read your policy carefully and to talk to your insurance agent. If you need extra coverage for your pod while you're storing belongings in it or while it's being moved, your insurer can also sell it to you. Another option is to buy additional coverage from the company that provides the pod. Some will offer insurance for your stuff, although it's always wise to read the fine print. To be safe, also document everything you put in the pod with photographs or with a video recording. That way, it's more likely that your losses will be covered.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.