Self-storage unit fires in the news - yet again!

Self-storage unit fires in the news - yet again!

Another self-storage unit made the news last weekend following a large fire which took hold at the facility in Manchester.

At the height of the fire, there were as many as 125 firefighters and 25 fire engines deployed fighting the fire which had taken over the three storey building. Nearby residents had to be evacuated from their homes and the M67 motorway was closed due to the plume of smoke.

Some of the customers who were storing goods at the facility have lost everything– fortunately however, fire fighters were able to control the fire before it completely destroyed the facility meaning some customers have not been affected by the fire.

Unfortunately, reports in the local press show that there are a number of customers of the facility who did not have any storage insurance who, if affected by the fire, would have been left with no cover for their belongings at all. This is an all too familiar story and reinforces the need to make sure you cover your stored items – even if you are only planning to keep things in storage for a short period of time.

Due to the nature of self storage, any fire has the potential to spread and take hold rapidly – mainly because of the ready supply of available fuel. So, whilst storage facilities are not necessarily any more likely than any other type of business to be affected by fire, if a fire does break out, it is more likely to spread quickly and cause a lot of damage and destruction.

We sometimes get asked why storage insurance is necessary – as, surely, the storage facility itself is insured against the risks? Certainly, the storage facility itself could have its own insurance cover, however, this could be protection for the building itself and any assets or contents belonging to the business – but this might not necessarily cover the belongings of customers who were storing items within.

At the very beginning of 2019 and again at the start of 2020, we wrote on our blog about two serious fires. Both took place in storage units and both units were completely destroyed in the fires. Here again, a number of customers were potentially not adequately insured and, as a result, lost everything in the fire. Following the 2019 incident there were calls for tighter regulation with MPs raising questions in parliament about building standards and fire safety standards in relation to business of that type. There have also been questions asked about the lack of sprinklers in buildings of this type and whether they should be mandatory.

Incidents of this type serve as a reminder as to why it is so important to make sure you adequately insure your belongings whilst they are being stored in a facility away from your home. Whilst most self storage facilities will often offer their own cover to customers– this is usually set at an inadequate level to cover everything which risks leaving you under insured in the event of loss.

When looking at your storage insurance, it is important to make sure that your cover is sufficient to cover the total new replacement cost of everything you are storing. In order to make sure that you are properly insured, we always advise making a comprehensive inventory of all the items which you are storing, including the cost of replacement. As well as making it easier to determine the appropriate level of cover for your belongings. In the unfortunate event that the storage unit is involved in any kind of fire or other event causing damage or loss to your belongings, it is also useful to make sure you know exactly what you had stored for the purposes of making an insurance claim. Using a specialist storage insurance company, like Store Insure, means that you can tailor your cover to suit the insurance level and time period you require.

If you have any queries about insurance levels of an existing policy or need any further advice regarding storage insurance more generally, get in touch with a member of our team.

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Patrick Pellens

Author: Patrick Pellens

I started in the insurance industry in 2003 specialising in Personal Insurances such as Motor Bike, Car and Home Insurance.