The last thing an insurance broker should admit to the self storage industry is that they are “Storage Wars” junkie.  It is not the found Picasso or never before seen antique that someone forgot they had in a storage unit, it is the way the characters interact.  From Jarrod & Brandi fighting, to Barry’s bone gloves, and even Dave with his irritating yells.   For me it is purely entertainment, the same way every comedian makes fun of the insurance industry.  But the appearance of this program and the inevitable spin offs and copy cat programs have most likely lead to a shift in unit renter’s view of their belongings.

Insuring storage facilities for over fifteen years, we have seen an increase in the number of Sale & Disposal Claims.   An argument can be made that the show’s popularity has drawn more people to the auctions.  One thing is certain, as more people watch others make money buying auctioned units; they begin to think that their auctioned unit was full of priceless items.

This article is not about the Sale & Disposal exposure which is at the forefront of most self storage facilities; rather it is about the employees of the storage facilities.  In watching the show, I notice:

  • When cutting locks with bolt cutters – no gloves, no goggles/glasses.
  • When cutting locks with electric saws – no gloves, no goggles/glasses, no arm protection (on the show they wear short sleeve shirts and in some cases wearing shorts).
  • When opening metal gates – no gloves.

We offer a reminder to our clients in the self storage industry to remember “SELF” with respects to their employees:

S – Safety.  When removing locks, use goggles/glasses to protect the eyes and gloves to protect the hands when safe to do so.  While California is warmer on average than my home state of Massachusetts, long sleeve shirts and pants can minimize employee injuries to their arms and legs from sparks and flying metal.  Barry is always wearing gloves and glasses, and even Jarrod dons gloves before going through the unit he purchased.

E – Enforcement.  It is not always ease to enforce safety rules, especially when time is of the essence with some auctions.  Continuous reminding and training will make safety part of the auction process and will become seamless.  However, the enforcement of safety, for a facility owner, leads to the next two topics.

L – Liability.  As the owner and employer, you have a duty to protect your employees and minimize the exposure.  Murphy’s Law says that the injured employee will be your best employee.  Even a loyal employee could bring suit as result of their injury.   The smallest piece of metal can cause irreparable harm to an employee.

F – Financial.  Lose of a key employee, even for a short time, can cause additional expense in the form of payroll for additional employees to cover sifts, training replacement, your time addressing the claim with the insurance company.  From the insurance aspect, an injury can also increase the Workers’ Compensation rates for up to three (3) years.

All four points are fluid with each other.   The final point is reminding you to protect your reputation as a business owner.   You want unit buyers and visitors to remember the facility for the right reasons, not remember how they witnessed one of your employees being injured by cutting a lock.  The financial impact to a damaged reputation is difficult to measure and not directly insurable.

David W. D. Haynes

Business Development Coordinator

Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates, Inc.

36 Washington Street

Wellesley Hills, MA 02481

Direct Line: 781-239-7638

E-mail: dhaynes@delandgibson.com