If it seems like you've noticed more self-storage facilities under construction while driving around town, you aren't imagining things. The self-storage industry is on the rise in Canada.
Thanks to a stable economy, steady population growth and rising disposable incomes, demand for self-storage space is increasing. Also, Canadians are more mobile than ever, moving with increased frequency to different parts of the country.
Inside Canada's Storage Boom
Now operators are rushing to meet that demand by building new facilities. Traditionally, the Canada self-storage market has been undersupplied with between two to three square feet of self-storage space per person, according to The Global and Mail. The United States, by comparison, has about 5.4 square feet of storage space per person.
Investors, developers and storage operators are moving fast to build more storage in Canada's top metros, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area. For example, Ottawa-based Dymon Storage said recently that they plan to build up to 80 new facilities in the GTA over the next decade.
With more storage being built, more Canadians are poised to become first-time self-storage users. That begs the question, are your belongings safe in storage? Are they insured?
Self-Storage Risks and Hazards
By and large, most self-storage facilities are very secure and well-maintained. That said, break-ins, fires, floods and other calamities do occur, just as they happen to apartments and residential neighbourhoods.
Perhaps one of the greatest risks is managing moisture and preventing mould and mildew from damaging your items. Choosing a climate-controlled facility, which regulates air temperature and humidity, is a good way to prevent this from happening.
You might think that in the event of some unforeseen catastrophe that the self-storage facility would be liable to compensate you for damage to your belongings. However, that is rarely, if ever, the case. Generally speaking, self-storage operators will take no responsibility for your possessions, putting the responsibility on you to properly insure your belongings.
Self-Storage Insurance Options in Canada
Many self-storage providers in Canada will require that you either show proof of insurance or purchase an insurance policy from them before you can rent a unit.
The good news is that in most circumstances your homeowners or renter's policy generally protects your personal belongings, even if stored outside of the home. There may be certain limitations and deductibles to consider, so it is a good idea to confirm with your insurer exactly what is covered.
However, procuring a supplemental insurance policy from the self-storage facility might still be a good idea, even if you have some coverage through your existing homeowner's or renter's policy. For one, if something does happen to your goods in storage you won't have to make a claim on your homeowner's policy and risk future rate increases. In addition, storage insurance policies often have no deductibles.
You can expect to pay around 10% to 20% of the monthly storage rent in insurance premiums.
If the terms offered in the policy sold by the storage operator you are renting from aren't great, you can shop around for other specialty insurance providers elsewhere that will cover your goods. Look for an all-risk, replacement cost policy to make sure your items are fully protected. Most insurers will offer various tiers of coverage amounts, typically starting at $5,000 and up.
While you are at it, consider shopping around for a better home policy with Rates.ca.