Are my contents covered while in storage?

Home contents insurance is designed to cover everything you keep at home, but what about any of your possessions that you might be keeping in storage? Make sure that you’re fully informed and your belongings are properly covered with our guide.

Home contents insurance is designed to cover everything you keep at home, but what about any of your possessions that you might be keeping in storage? Make sure that you’re fully informed and your belongings are properly covered with our guide.

Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
minute read
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Last Updated 27 SEPTEMBER 2022

Does my home insurance cover contents in storage?

The answer to this question, confusingly, is – it depends.

Whether or not you’re covered will be based on your policy and your circumstances. And you might need to take a magnifying glass to your paperwork to find out.

Home insurance policies differ when it comes to cover for ‘items away from home’.

Some insurance policies, for example, include ‘house removals’ as part of their standard contents cover. This protects your items while in transit between your old and new house, but it might also include up to seven days’ cover in a temporary storage facility. If your policy does offer this type of cover, it’s worth noting that you’ll most likely only be protected if you use a professional, licensed removals company.

Some policies will also cover ‘contents temporarily away from the home’, say if you need to put your furniture in temporary storage because your house move is taking longer than planned. Just make sure you check any monetary or time limits that may apply to the cover. You might also find that valuable items classified as ‘high risk’ might not be covered. This could include items like jewellery, money or deeds and documents.

If ‘alternative accommodation cover’ is included in your contents insurance, your belongings may be covered in temporary storage if your home isn’t fit to live in following a so-called insurable event, like a fire or flood. Check your policy documents to see whether you’re covered for this and if any limits apply. For example, some providers may cover you for up to 90 days, while others might offer 180 days.

You might want to put some of your belongings in storage simply because of limited space or because you’re carrying out renovation work. If this is the case, it’s worth checking to see if your home insurance policy provides any cover, however the chances are you’ll need specialist policy.

Do my contents need to be insured if they’re in storage?

Yes. According to the UK self-storage trading body (the Self Storage Association UK): ‘If your goods are worth storing, they are worth insuring.’

Most storage and self-storage companies will insist you have insurance in place before they’ll let you leave your belongings. Their insurance only covers their liability if they’re found to have damaged your goods.

Remember, though, that storage cover isn’t always provided as standard with many home insurance policies. If you need cover for storage away from your home, choose a policy that includes it or opt for a standalone policy. You’ll likely need to look at the provider’s policy wording – check the contents section and look for headings that cover moving home, contents in transit or contents temporarily outside your home.

You can often take out contents cover via your storage firm, but it may not be the cheapest option. Shopping around gives you the opportunity to see if you can get a better deal.

Can I get specialist contents storage insurance?

If your home insurance provider doesn’t cover contents in storage, or you’re looking for long-term storage cover, there are specialist companies that offer storage insurance policies (sometimes called self-storage insurance). They’ll also cover single valuable items – typically up to £1,000 if the item hasn’t been declared separately on the policy – but limits can vary, so be sure to read the policy carefully before you buy.

What does storage insurance cover? 

Storage insurance typically includes cover for: 

  • Water damage from burst pipes or escape of water
  • Theft
  • Moth, insect and vermin damage (at some but not all locations)
  • Fire
  • Storm and lightning
  • Flooding
  • Vandalism and malicious acts
  • Riots and civil commotion
  • Sprinkler damage
  • Collapse of the premises
  • Subsidence
  • Impact from vehicles or aircraft 

If you’re using a self-storage unit, you should check whether there’s a ‘how to store your items’ stipulation in the insurance policy. For example, you may be required to lock the unit with a particular type of padlock or store your contents in plastic, damp-proof boxes, rather than cardboard. Make sure your goods are stored correctly or you might find your claim is rejected. The insurance provider might also stipulate minimum security requirements – for example, CCTV or security on the premises – so make sure to check this too.

Do I have to take out insurance with the storage company?

Storage companies will most likely recommend you buy their insurance, but it’s not compulsory. However they might insist any policy you take out offers the same level of cover as their own.

Does storage insurance cover vehicles in storage?

No, most storage insurance policies only cover household or business goods. Cars, boats, motorbikes and caravans are usually excluded.

If you need to put your car or motorbike in a storage facility, you can apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), which means your vehicle won’t need to be taxed or insured while in storage. If you want to make sure it’s protected from fire, theft, vandalism or damage while in storage, it’s a good idea to keep it insured.

Will my wine collection in storage be covered?

Most standard home insurance policies won’t cover valuable possessions in storage, such as a wine collection, but it’s best to check with your particular provider.

Some storage facilities offer wine storage insurance. Otherwise, you’ll need to look for a specialist wine insurance policy that covers your valuable collection while it’s in a dedicated storage facility.

What to look for when choosing a self-storage facility 

When choosing a suitable self-storage facility, you might want to consider the following: 

  • Does the storage facility offer temporary or long-term storage?
  • Are there restrictions on what you can store?
  • Is there an option to share a unit with family or friends?
  • What security features does the facility have? For example, CCTV, security guards, unit structure, PIN code access?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Size and suitability of the storage unit?
  • Is the unit well-ventilated? It shouldn’t be stale or stuffy, or show signs of damp or mould
  • What are the opening times?
  • Can you access your items at short notice?

Top tip

Choose a storage facility that’s a member of the Self-Storage Association UK (SSA UK). This will ensure they meet the European Standard for security and customer protection. There are more than 1,500 self-storage facilities in the UK to choose from. Use the Storage Facility Locator to find an SSA UK member in your area. 

Where can I get storage insurance?

Whether you use insurance provided by your storage facility or a standalone specialist policy, for peace of mind it’s worth knowing your belongings are protected.

And don’t forget, if you’re moving home or need temporary storage, your home insurance might already provide the cover you need.

Compare the Market doesn’t currently compare specialist self-storage insurance, but we can help you find home insurance policies that may cover your items while they’re in temporary storage.

You’ll be able to find specialist policies online. As always though, just remember to check the policy details when comparing policies to make sure you have the right cover for your needs.

Frequently asked questions

What items does storage insurance typically cover?

It depends on the policy you choose, but most storage insurance providers will typically cover personal goods including:

  • Furniture
  • Electronic equipment and computers
  • Personal documents
  • Soft furnishings
  • Home appliances
  • Stock, machinery, tools and plant
  • Valuables up to a certain limit – typically, £1,000.

What items aren’t covered?

There are certain items that won’t be covered by storage insurance. And for safety and security reasons, you won’t be allowed to store them in a storage facility. These include: 

  • Living creatures
  • Combustible or flammable substances like paint, gases, petrol or oil
  • Firearms, explosives, weapons and ammunition
  • Hazardous substances like chemicals
  • Items that emit strong smells or fumes
  • Illegal substances, items or goods
  • Any type of currency including money, credit cards, lottery tickets and deeds
  • Food or perishable goods.

Will my items be covered by my home insurance if I store them in a shed or outbuilding?

Sheds, outbuildings and their contents are usually covered by home insurance if they form part of the main property. However: 

  • Ensure your total sum insured is enough to cover the items in your outbuilding as well as your home.
  • Your home insurance might not cover valuables over a certain limit if they’re stored in outbuildings.
  • Certain high-value items like bikes and power tools may not be included under a standard home insurance policy, unless they’re individually added.
  • You’ll need to make sure that security measures are in place; for example, a proper lock. You could also consider security lights.
  • Your contents may not be covered for ‘gradual or preventable damage’ caused by things like damp, mould or vermin infestations.

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