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After the Unexpected: A Step-By-Step Guide to Filing a Self-Storage Insurance Claim

Any incident that forces a self-storage operator to submit an insurance claim can be stressful, so it’s helpful when the filing process is simple and straightforward. This step-by-step guide will help you document and report the situation as well as mitigate further damage.

Brian Bogdanoff

August 17, 2022

6 Min Read
Step-By-Step Guide to Filing a Self-Storage Insurance Claim

There are many forms of risk a self-storage business might face. These include natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, hailstorms and fires, plus the potential for slip and fall injuries and even equipment failure. All can have a substantial impact on your operation.

The past few years have been challenging, and I’m sure all business owners can agree it’s critical to have the appropriate risk-management procedures and insurance coverage in place. Though you might purchase insurance with the hope that you never have to use it, you can’t always predict the weather, and accidents do happen. When you eventually experience an incident at your self-storage property that requires you to file a claim, it’s stressful enough without having to fret about the process. The following basic steps will help ensure it goes smoothly.

Document the Incident

The first important task to complete after an unfortunate event occurs at your self-storage facility is to fill out an incident report, which provides a summary of the cause of loss. This form will include all pertinent details such as date and time of the occurrence and contact information for all witnesses. It should be saved on the office computer, but you should also have hard copies available in case the computer is offline or inaccessible. Once the form is complete, make sure it’s stored safely, as it may be needed in the future.

If someone is injured on site, include documentation on the type of injury, where it occurred and what may have caused it. Always ask if medical care is needed, and call 911 in the event of an emergency. If the person refuses medical care, document that it was offered and ask the injured party to sign a document stating that it was declined. Photo and video evidence is also important here, as it is for any incident.

Important tip: Never admit fault! Frivolous lawsuits happen all the time, and admitting fault when a person is harmed on your property can expose your business to liability. Accepting responsibility may also impair your insurer’s ability to defend you. Simply alert your insurance agent as quickly as possible, so your carrier can review, investigate and collect any additional information and represent your interest in any legal action that may result.

In the event of a property loss from a natural disaster or even vandalism, take photos and video footage to show the damage. It’ll be helpful to have these on file for an adjuster. Also, keep all physical evidence. Don’t dispose of any damaged property, as it may be used in the adjuster’s report and assessment.

Report and File

Before you submit your claim to your self-storage insurance agent, it’s imperative to gather all the facts and formal documentation that’ll be required. Timing is also critical, as you have a duty to report the incident as soon as practical. An adjuster will need to review the loss and inspect the property. They’ll also assess your insurance policy to determine how coverage may apply.

Your agent will be able to report the claim to the appropriate party while referencing the policy information. Provide them with the incident report and any supporting files (photos, video, notes). If you speak with a claims representative over the phone, send your agent a summary of the conversation via email and keep it on file.

Mitigate Damage

Mitigation means doing what you can to lessen the impact of an incident at your self-storage property. Here are some common ways you might be called upon to mitigate damage:

  • Offering an injured person medical assistance with a first-aid kit

  • Offering to call an ambulance

  • Offering to make an appointment at an urgent-care care for evaluation

  • Removing fallen branches from your premises

  • Covering damaged areas of the roof with a tarp

  • Moving tenants’ property from a compromised unit

  • Turning off the water to stop leaking

If clean-up and repairs are needed to prevent further injury, damage or expense, it’s important to act immediately. Failure to do so may reduce or void your insurance coverage. Just keep in mind that the expense of hiring restoration companies and contractors should be approved by the adjuster and insurance company. It’s critical to save all receipts and submit them directly to the claims adjuster for reimbursement.

When it comes to an onsite injury, seeking medical attention as soon as possible is the key mitigation approach. If the injured party delays this attention or disregards medical advice, it’ll help you build a defense in the event they file a lawsuit. Again, document any action you take toward mitigating loss.

Get Estimates for Repairs

Once your self-storage insurance company and adjuster approve the scope of any necessary repair work, get multiple estimates so they can approve the overall project cost. This shows them you’ve done your due diligence to select a reputable contractor and that you’ll have the repairs done responsibly and economically to recover from the loss. With the rising cost of materials and labor, you want to make sure the adjuster agrees with the total cost of repairs. There may be additional, unknown expenses associated with the claim, and it’s important that this person is involved and approves everything in writing.

The insurance adjuster will provide you with a proof-of-loss document. This is a formal record that initiates the claim process and amount of the payout. Once it’s complete, the adjuster will work with the insurance carrier to have the payment processed in a timely manner.

Lean on Your Insurance Agent

Choosing the right insurance agent will give you the peace of mind you need to run your self-storage business efficiently and successfully. This person is also your claims advocate. They’ll review any claim with the adjuster and ensure the process is moving along in a timely manner. The end goal is to have the issue resolved quickly and efficiently.

Insurance policies are complex and don’t always cover everything you expect. It’s vital to learn how your coverage fits your needs and budget, and how it can be tailored to protect your self-storage business. Review your coverage with your agent annually to get advice on policy coverages and limits. With the recent rise in material and labor costs, lacking the appropriate products could be detrimental to your operation in the event of a loss. Policy limits and coverages can be amended at any time throughout the year, not just during renewal.

When it comes time to file an insurance claim, working with an experienced and knowledgeable agent who understands self-storage is valuable. This partnership will ensure your business is well-protected and put your mind at ease.

Brian Bogdanoff is the director of property and casualty insurance for Storable, which provides self-storage insurance coverage in all 50 states. In addition to insurance, Storable offers a comprehensive suite of intuitive products that work together to increase business efficiency and profitability. For more information, call 888.525.1760 or email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Brian Bogdanoff

Vice President, Insurance Office of America

Brian Bogdanoff is a vice president with Insurance Office of America (IOA), which provide self-storage insurance (property and casualty, and tenant protection). Headquartered in Longwood, Fla., IOA operates in more than 60 locations throughout the U.S. and London. For more information on disaster plans and comprehensive self-storage business insurance, contact 800.243.6899, ext. 43130, or [email protected].

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