By Melanie Wichelman
Even the most diligent and involved self-storage operator is likely to suffer damage to his facility from time to time. While it’s true that preparation and awareness will help you minimize claims, some things will be out of your control. When a property-damage incident occurs, the first step is to remain calm so you can evaluate the situation and learn how to better avoid similar scenarios in the future.
Let’s take a look at some common damage-related incidents that occur at self-storage properties, how to avoid them and how to address them after the fact.
Property claims are the most common claim type in the self-storage industry, particularly those relating to weather. Strong storms can blow with fierce strength. The best way to prepare for Mother Nature is to stay on top of your basic facility maintenance.
Make sure roofs and connecting structures are well-maintained. The good news is self-storage buildings are usually constructed of metal, which generally requires minimal upkeep over the course of its life. However, some minor issues will require your time and attention to prevent more severe problems. For example, you may think a tiny roof leak is minor, but it’ll be no match for a hurricane blowing through town. Buildings made with wood frames or other materials are even more susceptible to weather-related issues, even when in tip-top shape.
Mother Nature isn’t the only culprit that causes property damage. Sometimes it occurs from man himself.
You have many customers coming and going, and they’re often driving cars and big trucks through your aisles. More often than not, tenants borrow or rent trucks to move in or out of their units. Maneuvering an unfamiliar vehicle through narrow lanes can be a challenge, and then bam! They hit and dent a unit door or gutter while backing up. Another common offender is the tenant who wants to get home after a long day of moving and tries to trail behind another vehicle at the automatic gate.
Even with warning signs posted, customers don’t always make the best decisions. While it’s important to do everything you can to prevent accidents from occurring, there are simply too many variables outside of your control. Don’t let this discourage you. Minimizing the frequency and extent of incidents is key.
Again, stay on top of facility maintenance. Keep your facility in the best shape possible, and take care of any and all issues right away. Post proper signage to give customers some guidelines. Are the aisles meant for one-way traffic? Should only one car travel through the gate at a time? Not everyone will follow the rules, but clearly posted policies will make most people think twice.
Making a Claim
When an incident does occur, there’s no need to panic. Take a look at the damage and evaluate the situation. Is it something you can quickly repair on your own, such as some paint scratches, or will you need a professional to step in?