Do you need insurance for your storage unit?

PACHECO, Calif. (KGO) -- Smoke and flames were visible for miles as fire broke out at the intersection of Highway 4 and 680. It spread to the back of the Pacheco Mini Storage facility where some of the biggest storage units were destroyed. Dozens of customers of Pacheco Mini Storage are just finding out now that their units were destroyed in last night's fast-moving grass fire. What's worse, the owner tells us almost no one had purchased insurance to cover those losses.

With that in mind, should consumers purchase extra insurance for their storage units? The storage unit business has its own insurance, but under the rental agreement customers are responsible for losses to their belongings. And the company says most opted not to buy the facility's insurance. But it doesn't mean they are totally out of luck.

RELATED: Fast-moving fire destroys 50 storage units in Pacheco

"We've had some customers come in to see if their stuff is affected. We had one come in, it was destroyed. She was devastated," said manager Kelly Van Schaik.

Today Van Schaik was busy giving those customers the sad news -- their belongings are gone. "Their lives are in there you know, their stuff, their kids' stuff. The calls are going to be really tough today," she said.

And they were. Van Schaik reached out to more than 50 customers and so far has found only one of them had purchased the company's insurance for their belongings. That policy covers up to $5,000 in losses and costs up to $20 per month

But if they don't have that coverage? Well the good news is most homeowners' and renters' insurance policies do cover storage units as well. However, as always, policies have limits.

The Insurance Information Institute says most homeowner and renter policies include so-called "off premises coverage."

However many of them will reimburse only 10 percent of the total policy coverage you have for your household belongings. Some do cover up to 50 percent. If you have expensive items in storage, you may want to ask for additional coverage. Most cover losses due to fire, hurricanes, tornadoes and theft -- but not usually for earthquakes.

RELATED: Investigators trying to determine cause of fire that destroyed part of storage facility in Pacheco

Check your homeowner and renter policies and decide if you want an extra policy -- most storage companies provide that.

An important tip: keep an inventory of everything you put in storage, including photos in case of a loss. It will help you recover at least the monetary loss -- if not the sentimental value.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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