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About a month ago, I found out my storage unit flooded due to rain together with 3 other units that were empty. Damaged was assessed at around 2K. A visual inspection of the unit lead me to believe that the water came in from the roof, due to rain.

This well-known storage unit denied my claim on the basis that I failed to opt in for their optional insurance coverage. When I rented the unit, I was asked the approximate value of all my items but was never offered one.

Do I have any recourse against the storage company? I mean, aren't they suppose to provide a unit in good structural condition and aren't they suppose to have their own insurance against situations like the one I am facing? If I am at fault, I guess it will be lesson learned. I wonder if anyone else has had the same problem in the past.

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Pretty standard scenario - renter is responsible for insuring property, rental agreement usually has multiple overlappin... (more)

Revike (Nov. 05, 2012 @ 6:36p) |

What is up with number of people suggesting going to home owners insurance for what is such a small claim, it hardly see... (more)

chimeer (Nov. 05, 2012 @ 8:33p) |

I think the OP needs to provide a little bit more detail to see if the storage company was liable or not. How long was h... (more)

henry33 (Nov. 05, 2012 @ 11:43p) |

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Would your renter's or homeowner's insurance cover this? Might want to call them to see.

What's the amount we're talking about? $5,000 worth of stuff or $50 worth?

What does your rental agreement say?

I would ask them to produce a copy of your rental agreement. In most cases, there is a place for you to sign or initial to decline insurance. Chances are, they put the paper in front of you and said "inital here, here and here. Sign here." and you did... not realizing what you were agreeing to.

Stubtify said:   Would your renter's or homeowner's insurance cover this? Might want to call them to see.

What's the amount we're talking about? $5,000 worth of stuff or $50 worth?


<$2,000

Stubtify said:   What's the amount we're talking about? $5,000 worth of stuff or $50 worth?He said it was 2k of damage.

adamc said:   I would ask them to produce a copy of your rental agreement. In most cases, there is a place for you to sign or initial to decline insurance. Chances are, they put the paper in front of you and said "inital here, here and here. Sign here." and you did... not realizing what you were agreeing to.

It appears that is correct. I checked the copy I got and they checked the no-insurance option where I hold the rental co. not responsible for even their own negligence

The thing is it appears they were aware of an existing roof issue and did not disclose it beforehand. I kind of feel it was my own fault for not being careful during the initial transaction but at the same time I feel they are taking advantage of the situation.

Sounds like Stubtify's idea of homeowners/renters may be your best option then.

You generally cannot relieve yourself of your own negligence through a contractual clause. Just like the trucks that have signs that say they are not responsible for rocks they kick up. It's not necessarily true just because it says so on a sign or in a contract.

Small claims.

How do you plan on proving negligence? They aren't dumb, they will just say that its an act of god or something of that matter.

I think there's a good chance that you're SOL. I remember hearing about this years ago where they had sob stories on TV where a storage locker was damaged in a storm and there was no coverage for people's belongings. It's just like when you rent a place, the landlord's insurance policy only covers the building, nothing of the tenant and the tenant is supposed to get renter's insurance just like you were supposed to buy coverage on your items.

This wasn't in an area hit by Hurricane Sandy was it?...because they might be able to claim it was a natural disaster.

If you can take pictures and prove in small claims that it was negligence on their part to maintain the property...I'd think you'd win.

Homeowner's insurance usually doesn't cover personal items kept in storage units, but you should read through your HO policy to make sure. One normally has the option to purchase a separate rider for this coverage, which I assume you didn't purchase; however, if the units were flooded, coverage might be excluded anyway. Household goods are normally only covered under HO when they're in transit (like your car). Look at your storage unit rental contract. If you either declined the optional insurance coverage or failed to opt-in and pay for the coverage, you more than likely have no recourse against the company.

Al3xK said:   This wasn't in an area hit by Hurricane Sandy was it?...because they might be able to claim it was a natural disaster.Beginning of OP ... About a month ago.

Op says the facility knew of poor roof condition and didn't disclose or repair- they may be liable

That's a very different situation than a sound structure sustaining storm damage .

Much like if your healthy tree falls on your neightBor in a storm , it's their insurance that pays. But if it was a decayed tree and you didn't properly maintain it , they'll make a liability claim against you

Op if you can gather evidence the facility was aware of poor roof condition , make a claim against their liability insurance

Insurance merely transfers liability to a third party. Without that transfer of liability, the liability is not absent. The storage company potentially caused damage to your goods while in their care, so the liability may be on the storage company itself (not necessarily their insurer).

Big companies generally refuse to pay anything, no matter how much in the wrong they are because most people are not motivated enough to sue and their business model exploits this. File a small claim. Once the court summons is in their hands, they may change their tune.

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   Op says the facility knew of poor roof condition and didn't disclose or repair- they may be liable

My take was that he's just assuming they are trying to screw him.

I'm not a lawyer, but I recall reading about the difference between flooding vs. water damage. Be sure to refer to the correct term and the area of contract, and not use a term, like flood,if it is not accurate, and might only add towards confusing matters.

bigdaddycincinnati said:   You generally cannot relieve yourself of your own negligence through a contractual clause. Just like the trucks that have signs that say they are not responsible for rocks they kick up. It's not necessarily true just because it says so on a sign or in a contract.

Exactly. Take the storage company to small claims court. If OP can show that the water leak was caused by negligence in roof maintenance and upkeep, the court will most likely rule in favor of OP. I don't know how OP can find evidence for that but it is probably the only recourse.

Maybe OP would have better luck trying to win back his past rental fees in small claims court? He has a contract for an enclosed and presumably weather-tight storage area - the storage company failed to provide that.

Or go after both claims and hope that one or both stick?

turtlebug said:   Homeowner's insurance usually doesn't cover personal items kept in storage units, but you should read through your HO policy to make sure. One normally has the option to purchase a separate rider for this coverage, which I assume you didn't purchase; however, if the units were flooded, coverage might be excluded anyway. Household goods are normally only covered under HO when they're in transit (like your car). Look at your storage unit rental contract. If you either declined the optional insurance coverage or failed to opt-in and pay for the coverage, you more than likely have no recourse against the company.

I'd advise the OP to contact his insurance company and make sure. I had State Farm homeowner's (really renter's insurance) and it did cover in a similar scenario. Had a storage unit and an expensive table got wet. There is however a really strange clause - if you mention that it was flooding, e.g. it came in under the door or through the floor, there is NO coverage. If it came through the roof (which we had pictures that showed water tracks down the table) then it is covered.

The storage company snowed us, tried everything to get us out of there, claiming they'd take care of it, but stonewalled once we had moved our stuff away. Thank goodness for State Farm.

Pretty standard scenario - renter is responsible for insuring property, rental agreement usually has multiple overlapping clauses to eliminate any liability. Decent homeowner or renter policy may cover loss of personal property. Could try to prove negligence, although that's difficult unless the unit leaked the previous winter and was supposed to be fixed, or an adjacent customer can offer supporting evidence of negligence.

The facility is supposed to make a reasonable effort to provide leak-free units, but if there is no obvious damage and the unit did not leak the previous year, the facility should theoretically not be liable.

The facility employee should have either explained the insurance options properly or said nothing at all and let you read it yourself. If the employee said something like "just sign here and here" it gives you an opening if you take the case to court. In some cases, an attorney will send someone to the facility to rent a space and record or witness how the employee conducts the rental. The attorney may then try to argue that the rental procedure typically conducted at the facility misleads the customer by speeding them through the insurance section.

Sometimes, just trying small claims court is enough. There are some not-top-of-their-class judges who simply ignore the contract terms and make decisions off the top of their head in favor of the customer ...

What is up with number of people suggesting going to home owners insurance for what is such a small claim, it hardly seems worth it once OP pays the deductible.

Regardless of what the (illegal?) contract says the OP has a reasonable expectation that the storage unit will stay dry. If the storage company was negligent and it sounds like there is a chance they were they should be replacing his stuff. If I felt like I had a decent chance at recovering more than my time I would take them to court.

chimeer said:   What is up with number of people suggesting going to home owners insurance for what is such a small claim, it hardly seems worth it once OP pays the deductible.

Regardless of what the (illegal?) contract says the OP has a reasonable expectation that the storage unit will stay dry. If the storage company was negligent and it sounds like there is a chance they were they should be replacing his stuff. If I felt like I had a decent chance at recovering more than my time I would take them to court.


I think the OP needs to provide a little bit more detail to see if the storage company was liable or not. How long was his stuff in storage before the roof leaked? How did he know that the storage company should have known that the roof was leaking? Was it leaking when he first put his items into storage? Because he didn't get insurance, I think the only way he wins is if he can somehow prove that the storage company knew it was leaking. And I think it's very easy for the storage company to say that they didn't know it was leaking or that they fixed a leak and then it just started to leak again. To me, it's sorta common knowledge or should be that stuff in storage is not insured by the storage company unless you buy insurance. When roofs fail, they leak. I just find it hard to believe how the OP is going to prove that storage company knew when it was going to leak or that the storage company somehow caused it to leak.

Basically a few here say that if you can prove it, you will win, however how do you go about proving it?



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