BigSteelBox, a self storage facility in British Colombia, Canada, has recently hit the headlines due to widespread flooding in the area. The devastating events of November 2021 unfortunately affected a number of containers, destroying the possessions of around 20% of their customers (according to BoxBoxSteel).
As it stands, BigBoxSteel has not offered any compensation and has directed those affected to speak with their insurance companies and the Canadian government’s flood relief department. They have however, stated that any storage fees for affected customers were suspended immediately and free delivery was also provided to allow customers to assess the damage to their posessions.
Whilst we are not experts on Canadian law, it does appear that like the UK, many Canadian providers do require proof of insurance before renting a unit. So technically, although devastating, you could argue that the storage company (provided they saw proof of insurance purchase before issuing the agreement) does not have a legal duty to compensate customers.
It has emerged that the Canadian storage facility was located on a known floodplain, and although we cannot say whether this was disclosed or not to customers at the beginning of their lease, it is a detail worth mentioning. It is a serious question to ask when leasing storage from a provider - they may not know, however the UK Government’s Flood Risk Map will provide up to date details on areas of risk.
With flooding becoming more frequent in the UK, it is not uncommon to see most of the country issued with flood warnings ranging from mild to severe when we have wet weather. The intensity of downpours has meant that some areas which were never known to flood are now at risk. Footage from 202o documenting the terrible winter flooding in Halifax showed a large storage container being carried along by floodwater and another incident of a container wedged under a bridge in Leeds. When flooding at this level occurs it is pretty much guaranteed that all items contained within those units will be damaged beyond repair, requiring replacement, therefore it is vital to check that your Storage Insurance provides adequate cover for flood damage.
How can you protect your possessions from the risk of flooding?
Avoidance is the first step in limiting the damage of flooding - when you are choosing a storage location, take the time to do a bit of research on the area and find out whether there are any known floodplains or previous history of flooding. As mentioned before, using the UK Government’s flood risk map is a great place to start. You can search by postcode to see whether your location is in a ‘risk’ area. Not only does this handy online tool detail flooding from rivers and seas it will also check whether there have been any previous incidences of surface water and reservoir flooding nearby, detailing likely depth and speed based on previous reports.
Fortunately, the incident that occurred in Halifax is few and far between and was the result of extreme weather that no one could have predicted. Different storage containers suit different needs and whilst there is nothing wrong with using the external metal container units (strong, sturdy etc), it would be logical to say that in extreme weather, they would fare worse off than internal storage space. If you have found out that your chosen storage location has a history of flooding, research whether there are alternative internal options available. If you do decide to go for an external unit, check the storage container and surrounding environment after wet weather for any indication of potential flooding, prevention in this instance is much better than cure.
Don’t be afraid to ask your chosen storage provider questions regarding any history of flooding and the potential to flood. If they are located in a known flood risk area then they should have contingency plans should flooding occur. This will help to put your mind at ease and it is much easier to decide what to do when we have all the information.
Prepare your Possessions
Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to prevent flooding but we can perhaps lessen the damage to our items by taking some small precautions. Using plastic boxes rather than cardboard or wooden containers is always recommended. Not only will this help in the instance of smaller floods (i.e water run off which can be fairly quick to dissipate), if the containers are airtight, it will help to lessen the impact of damp and mildew, keeping those possessions clean and free of dirty water. If you are looking to store antique upholstery or art then it would be a good idea in this instance to rethink your chosen facility if there is any risk of flooding.
Unfortunately, in most cases, when flooding does occur at storage facility locations there is very little we can do to prevent the devastating consequences. Ensuring you have appropriate Storage Insurance is essential, many storage facilities only provide the most basic of cover and most likely will not cover you from natural disasters such as flooding or storm damage.
Here at Store Insure, unlike other storage insurance providers, our policy covers damage from flooding as standard, both in the storage location and whilst in transit to and from the storage location.
For instant cover use our Get a Quote & Buy Online tool, all policy documents will be instantly accessible via your account.
You can also view our policy documents online and if there is anything you can’t find then please do get in touch via our online chat or email which can be found on our website, we are always happy to help!