Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones: Is your storage unit covered for rodent damage?

SEATTLE — Just weeks away from her delivery date, Michaela Otero was looking forward to getting her baby clothes, crib and other items out of a Public Storage facility in Seattle.

“I got up here – rat droppings everywhere, rat traps, strong scent of urine coming from the unit,” Michaela said. “I was pretty much blindsided.”

According to Michaela, rodents had run rampant through the unit. Michaela said she purchased insurance with Public Storage and it had a $5,000 limit.

However, for vermin damage, there’s a sub-limit.

“It’s $250 for the damages,” Michaela said. “And with a $100 deductible… that’s not helping at all. $150 for all that damage. I’m going to have to buy all new baby things. I’m also going to have to get a new bed frame, new mattress.”

Jesse showed the policy to Andrew Davis, an analyst with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, and asked if people that get this insurance expect it will cover everything.

“There are going to be a number of exclusions that apply,” Davis said. “There are some limits or special coverage limits that apply.”

But a check on Yelp of Public Storage’s own location shows people talking about the building having a rodent problem for years.

But what if you want to sue Public Storage?

“What stuck out right away was there is a binding arbitration clause and binding arbitration clause is enforced in Washington State,” said consumer lawyer Gregory Albert. “You can bring a claim for gross negligence, but it was capped at $5,000 and those were all a part of the contract.”

A consumer would be better suited to finding a stand-alone policy that has better vermin coverage.

And always check online to see if other customers have complained about a problem at the facility.

Finally, take a look to see if your renters’ or homeowners’ insurance policy covers the damage.

Remember, Public Storage owns the insurance company providing their policies.