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To insure or not to insure

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Essentially, if something is worth storing, it is worth insuring, and low cost insurance is available. This article outlines the need for and wisdom of insuring your unit contents, just like it is wise to insure your home and its contents, or your car, or your business.

An incident a while ago in British Columbia and which was on local news was the burglary of a self storage unit, with reported losses of about $10,000. The theme of the story centered on the quality of security in self storage.

Like other reputable owner/operators, Abacus is concerned with having a high degree of security on its property. Our self storage security systems cover the property and are well maintained, and include closed circuit TV, coded access gates and doors, movement and intrusion alarms, etc. Of equal importance are diligent on site personnel who take care to notice what is happening on the property. However, the old adage applies: if there is a will there is way. It is probably impossible to design a security system that will always be totally effective, as it seems there will always be people with criminal intent who will attempt to get around any system.

Perhaps the best examples are high priced automobiles. There are all kinds of sophisticated car alarm and theft prevention systems, yet cars are stolen with ease and regularity. State of the art security systems are available and used for residences, yet burglaries are not uncommon. As a result, readily available insurance is used to cover possible losses related to cars, homes, businesses, etc.

So it is at Abacus – specialized low cost insurance for the contents of a self storage unit is readily available. (There may be homeowner policies that cover the contents of a self storage unit, but this is not common.) Self storage unit contents coverage is available up to $25,000 per unit (deductible is $500), and the cost is not excessive – just a few dollars per month. (A note on this matter is that it is highly desirable to have an up to date list of everything in the storage unit, and the more detailed the better. It is also desirable to have documentation available supporting the value of items in the storage unit, as it is of assistance in supporting proof of loss if and when a claim is made.)

The benefit of self storage insurance is that it covers more than just the risk of theft. Coverage is available for fire, water damage from burst pipes, etc. Some of these events can be catastrophic (typical policies usually have exclusions so it is important to review the policy at the time of purchase).

For instance, a few years ago a damage incident at Abacus occurred when someone moving into a unit accidentally hit a sprinkler head and caused it to release a great deal of water before the leak was stopped. Serious damage occurred to the building and to the contents of about 25 units.

Totally unrelated to Abacus, a fire broke out in a self storage property some years ago in Toronto and the building and all of the contents of all of the units were totally destroyed.

If there is a power failure in mid winter and heat is unavailable for hours or even days (as occurred in eastern Ontario and Quebec a number of years ago during a severe ice storm), fire prevention sprinkler systems could freeze, and losses could be catastrophic. (The risk of freeze up is minimal at Abacus, as Abacus has an emergency electrical generator powered by natural gas. This generator has kept the lights and heat on at Abacus even in the major ice storms over the last few years, and probably prevented catastrophic losses.)

In summary, and despite precautions, losses can occur at any time from a number of causes. Of course, and as is typical in the self storage industry, unit content losses are not covered by Abacus or its insurers. For this reason, it is highly advisable for unit holders to have insurance for their unit contents.

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