Customers struggle for reimbursements from Public Storage policies

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UPDATE: FOX 4 Problem Solvers has recently learned that now both victims of Public Storage burglaries have received compensation from New Hampshire Insurance. Mr. Garcia notified FOX 4 on Monday that he has been reimbursed $1400. FOX 4 previously reported that Mr. Colby was reimbursed $1600 after FOX 4 started looking into his case.

ORIGINAL STORY:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- David Garcia will never forget the last time he had visited the storage unit he had been renting. As soon as he opened the door, he heard noises coming from the ceiling.

"I witnessed the insulation going up and the hole being covered," said Garcia.

Garcia was renting a storage unit from Public Storage on 31st street in Independence, Missouri.

"I could see footprints on my stuff," Garcia said.

He called police who wrote it up as a burglary. Garcia filed a claim on the insurance policy that he said Public Storage had required him to buy. But nine months later he has yet to collect a dime.

James Colby of Kansas City is also waiting. He sent in serial numbers and photos for many of the items stolen from his unit on North Oak Trafficway.

"I haven't been reimbursed on anything," he said. In fact, he said he was told his claim was now closed. That's something that really ticks him off because he also had insurance through Public Storage.

None of this surprises a former Public Storage district trainer and property manager. She didn't want to be identified, but told us she knows exactly how useless the insurance policy is.

"No one was paid out the four years I was there," she said. "Not one."

She said some customers had lost thousands of dollars in stored items from break-ins.
That's something you don't hear about when you visit a Public Storage. We sent an undercover producer to the Public Storage facility where James Colby's items had been stolen.

We were told by an employee that there had been no break-ins, even though Colby was told he was one of nine people to have his storage locker broken into in a single day. We got the same line from another Public Storage employee at 31st street in Independence where Garcia's items were stolen.

"There haven't been any break- ins since I've been here," a Public Storage employee said.

But when we pressed the employee for how long he'd been there, he said only a month. No one at Public Storage must have told him about the five reports of theft and burglary at his facility just in the last year, according to Independence Police.

And how about the insurance that customers complain never pays on their claims? The former Public Storage employee confirmed that customers are required to buy it unless they bring proof with them that they are already covered by another policy. And every Public Storage facility our undercover producer visited had someone try to sell it to him.

The insurance policy is underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance. A spokesman for the insurance company denied that it doesn't pay claims. He insisted that the company has paid hundreds of claims in Missouri alone and that no Public Storage employee would have knowledge of whether a claim is or isn't paid. AIG, the parent company for New Hampshire Insurance, sent us this statement:

"When a claim is made, our customers are... asked for documentation ...of items lost and proof that visible forced entry and burglary were the causes of loss... Coverage for a loss can only be determined when this documentation is provided."

But James Colby said he did provide proof and still never got reimbursed. Mr. Garcia said he could never get anyone at the insurance company to even tell him why his claim had been denied.

After FOX 4 contacted New Hampshire Insurance, it reopened Mr. Colby's claim and is now sending him a check for $1,600. We are still waiting to hear about Mr. Garcia's claim.

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