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Emergency Preparedness and Self-Storage Insurance

Kay Schaefer Comments
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The Flood Zone

A substantial number of buildings are constructed in flood areas and owners are not always aware of it. The fact that a flood hasn’t been recorded does not mean one hasn’t happened or won’t happen. Flood history is only one element used in determining flood risk. More critical determinations are made by evaluating your community’s rainfall and river flow data, topography, wind velocity, tidal surge, flood control measures and building development (existing and planned).

Floods can occur in any area, to varying degrees. If you live on a hill or in an area that has never been flooded, your risk may be significantly reduced, but it is not eliminated. Flooding can be caused by heavy rains, melting snow, inadequate drainage systems, failed protective devices such as levees and dams, as well as by tropical storms and hurricanes.

Most standard insurance policies exclude coverage for flood. If that is the case with your provider, you’ll need to purchase a separate policy for this protection. Most flood insurance is sold through the National Flood Insurance Program and will carry a high deductible. Make an informed decision about the flood risks you face before deciding whether to purchase coverage by talking it over thoroughly with your agent.

The Big One

If you live in earthquake country, then buying earthquake insurance may make financial and logical sense. You may need to purchase a separate policy for this coverage. Ask your agent and find out what options are available. And, as with other catastrophe insurance, you’ll probably have a higher deductible to meet. You can also reduce loss yourself by retrofitting your buildings with earthquake bracing.

Having adequate replacement cost coverage is always important but never more so than when a catastrophe occurs. If a disaster of great magnitude strikes, your ability to rebuild quickly can be impaired due to lack of materials and competent contractors available to perform the work. Both can create a larger loss of income than you may have expected.

Another important part of your loss of income coverage is the extended period of indemnity. This coverage allows additional time after the repairs are made to return to business as usual. In the case of self-storage, it allows the management time to recover, renting units to tenants and reaching typical occupancy levels. You don’t want to find out after you have a loss that you did not purchase limits high enough to replace your buildings and get your facility back into operation.

There are many tools available to help you determine the actual replacement cost of your facility. Start by talking to your insurance agent. Along with adequate property coverage, loss of income coverage is also vitally important. Review both the coverage amount and the time period for this coverage.

When thinking about catastrophe, remember to review your insurance coverage as well as take action to minimize your potential losses. No one wants to face disaster. Moreover, no self-storage facility wants to face catastrophe without ample insurance coverage.

Kay Schaefer, an underwriter for Deans & Homer, is a certified insurance counselor. Deans & Homer was established in 1856 and has specialized in the self-storage industry for more than 30 years, offering facility and tenant-insurance programs. For more information, call 866.753.2228; e-mail; visit

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