Many people use storage space, believing their storage company is ensuring their treasured belongings are safe. But one metro man is here to warn customers, storage companies are not always liable for your belongings.
"The first thing I saw when I walked in the back was a leather coat I bought last year, covered with mold," said Van Hicks, a former U-Haul storage user. "It was unbelievable something like that would happen."
Five years ago, Hicks rented a storage unit at an Oklahoma City U-Haul location. Unfortunately for Hicks, he did not pick the climate controlled storage unit. Hicks figured since he paid $55.00 a month, his items would be safe and U-Haul would take care of cleaning and replacing the moldy clothes he found in his storage unit. But Hicks was wrong.
"She asked, ‘Did you take the insurance?' I said ‘I don't recall.' She says ‘Well you didn't sign the agreement.' I thought, ‘Why should I buy insurance to correct one of their problems when they're responsible?'" said Van Hicks.
Hicks took pictures and documented all of his other items covered with mildew and mold.
Even with the pictures, U-Haul would not take responsibility for the moldy items. In a statement to News 9, U-Haul said Van Hicks' "claim was denied because he had chosen to self insure his storage unit." In other words, he did not take out the extra insurance which costs $6 to $24 per month, depending on coverage, so U-Haul would not replace the items. But there was no guarantee that even if Hicks had paid for the U-Haul insurance, he would have received compensation.
While the insurance covers damage from leaking water, there is a clause which says "climatic conditions such as mildew are not covered."
U-Haul said a manager was tasked to immediately check Hicks' storage space and the manager did not find any water leaks. U-Haul's president told News 9 he has scheduled a meeting with Hicks as a goodwill gesture to see what U-Haul can do to help.
News 9's Amanda Taylor offers these tips for safe storage space use:
The bottom line; when you store, you store at your own risk. Van may not be out of luck.
If there's something Amanda Taylor and the Consumer Watch team can help you with call 841-9921.
Originally aired - 11/06/2007.